Controversial Captain Cook statue removed from Cairns after being sold for $1
Controversial Captain Cook statue removed from Queensland street after being sold for just $1
- It’s the end of an era for Cairns’ iconic landmark that stood for half a century.
- The removal of the statue of Captain Cook required a delicate operation on Tuesday
- Far North Queensland community divided by statue, to be restored
Fifty years of history and controversy have come to a dramatic end as an iconic statue of Captain James Cook begins his next voyage.
Standing 10 meters tall, the statue of the British explorer has been a landmark in Cairns since 1972.
The giant monument has sparked outrage over the years for the statue’s infamous Nazi salute and because it was a “symbol of colonialism and genocide” for indigenous Australians.
Dozens gathered at the site on Tuesday to witness history when the statue of Captain Cook was pulled down in a delicate operation to be relocated to private property in the nearby Atherton Tablelands.
Demolition contractor Martin Anton reportedly purchased the statue for $1 with plans to repaint and restore the monument.
Tuesday marked the end of an era for one of Cairns’ most iconic landmarks (pictured)
“He’s going to get a well-deserved rest, he can lie down after being on his feet for 50 years,” he told Seven News.
No one can stay upright that long.
Anton hopes that the restored statue will eventually be erected elsewhere.
“It will simply sit on the site for storage purposes until structural engineers have had a chance to review it and make sure it’s as good now as it was 50 years ago,” he told ABC.
‘You get better with age, don’t you?’
It was the third lucky time for the removal, which had previously been postponed twice due to recent wet weather.
The giant statue was suspended in the air by a crane before being carefully placed on the back of a truck.
Cairns’ historic moment sparked a divided community reaction.
The removal of the 10 meter statue of Captain Cook required a careful and delicate operation
“Destroy it, take it away, it just opens wounds,” said Cheryl Creed, a First Nations resident.
Nearly 20,000 people signed a petition filed by Indigenous artist Emma Hollingsworth to have the statue removed during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘Since 1972, the James Cook statue on Sheridan Street has been a symbol of colonialism and genocide. It is a slap in the face to all indigenous peoples,’ the petition said.
‘For us, it represents dispossession, forced eviction, slavery, genocide, land theft and loss of culture, among many other things.’
The Captain Cook statue will be moved to private property in the nearby Atherton Tablelands for restoration.
But some were sad to see the monument disappear.
“A lot of Cairns is being taken down, so it’s about trying to catch what you can,” one woman told Seven News.
Some people online suggested that the statue be re-erected 200 miles to the north in Cooktown, a seaside town where the explorer beached his ship Endeavor for repairs in 1770.
James Cook University will develop a hospital on the Sheridan Street site where the statue stood for half a century.
Police were present to ensure that the statue removal operation proceeded as planned.