Join Date: May 2006
Yes Barry, it has changed.
Enormously so during the last 10 to 15 years.
During the 1950's and 1960's I worked in the Sydney CBD. During my lunch break I would cruise a number of shops that sold weaponry --- modern, antique, ethnographic---within ten minutes walk of where I worked. Once weekly there was an auction just around the corner from my office that about 50% of the time had weaponry that I would leave bids on.
Genuine aboriginal artifacts are very, very expensive, and are prohibited exports. Plenty of tourist stuff that looks OK, but it is likely to be made by a Bosnian refugee working for a Koori entrepreneur. The Aboriginal art, especially the stuff around the Rocks and tourist traps is done to order by whole families who work for whitefeller dealers. Nothing much that's fair dinkum---not that you can find without knowledge of the art form and the industry it supports.
My wife and I do the weekend markets, and the permanent markets very regularly. I have not bought any kind of ethnic weaponry from these places in years. You do occasionally see something, but normally it is junk grade, and the prices are off there in La-La Land.
There is still decent opal and gemstones around. Private dealers are a much better bet than the retail outlets.