Administration at the Australian Parliament House are pleading for any witnesses to come forward following the disappearance of the ‘Australian National Knife’ (pictured) which has been stored under glass in the House’s public gallery since 1991. Reports state that the knife was last sighted by staff on Thursday evening, during cleaning of the cabinet, and was first reported missing when exhibitionists came to collect the knife for its display at the Australian of the Year Awards early Sunday morning.
Presented as a gift from the wealthy Fairfax family to the Australian people during the Bicentenary of 1988, the iconic knife dates back to Australia’s founding, being brought to Australia in 1770 by explorer Captain James Cook. Left in a tree to mark the Endeavour’s landing spot, the very same knife was recovered eighteen years later by Governor Philip when he arrived on the First Fleet. The small blade soon became a feared symbol of the regular executions carried out by the Governor, though historical records only recount two instances where ‘Cook’s knife’ was directly involved in the dispensation of capital punishment.
Specialists say the knife is considered a priceless relic of Australia’s colonial past, and estimates state it could fetch anywhere up to $50 on the black market. Tourism officials say that visitors who were planning a trip to the House to see the relic should not be deterred, as a temporary substitute has been loaned by the Melbourne Museum, which will be displayed until the original is recovered.
Anyone who has any information about the whereabouts of the knife is encouraged to contact Australian Parliament House in Canberra on (02) 6277 7111, and ask for Tony.