Tasmanian authorities have seized more than 150 alleged Aboriginal artefacts being offered for sale online from Sydney.
Last Thursday, a raid was conducted on a Sydney property by officers from Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) and their New South Wales and federal counterparts.
The officers found 158 stone tools of various sizes, all alleged to be of Tasmanian Aboriginal origin.
Chief enforcement officer Luke Bond said the scale of the haul shocked the officers involved.
The objects were sourced from all over Tasmania, according to labels made to promote their worth. (ABC News: Gregor Salmon)
The age of the possible relics — mostly scraping, chopping and cutting tools — has yet to be determined but they were apparently sourced from various locations in Tasmania.
Many of the items had paper tags indicating their origin, which enhanced their appeal as genuine relics, Mr Bond said.
“[Some] items have been labelled to give them a greater degree of authenticity, and hence value,” he said.
While a total estimated value was not given, the asking price for some items was in the hundreds.
Two blades with the seller’s labels, one ostensibly sourced from the east coast and one from the north-west. (ABC News: Gregor Salmon)
“Some pieces were offered for sale in the hundreds of dollars,” Mr Bond said.
An expert with the team during the raid assessed the items and helped confirm they were from Tasmania.
Mr Bond said planning for the raid commenced weeks ago after DPIWE received a tip-off from a member of the public.
But he would not draw a link between the Sydney raid and the raid of a Hobart residence two months ago which recovered about 40 stone artefacts also being offered for sale online.
No arrests had been made yet but investigations were continuing, Mr Bond said.
He appealed to the public to offer any relevant information they might have.
“We’re seeking the public to come forward if they have any information in relation to people taking, possessing, trading or exporting artefacts from the state. it is a very serious offence,” he said.
The items will be held as evidence but ultimately are likely to be surrendered to the Crown and then returned to Aboriginal custodians.