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Huge Captain Cook Statue Will Finally Be Removed After Decades Of Complaints

Rachel Lang

| Last updated 

Huge Captain Cook Statue Will Finally Be Removed After Decades Of Complaints

A statue of Captain Cook with his arm raised is finally being removed from the side of the highway named after him following decades of complaints.

After the land on which it stands was purchased by James Cook University in Queensland, it has since been purchased by Martin Anton, who owns a demolition company in the state's far north.

He told the ABC that he didn't want to see the divisive colossus in Cairns 'bulldozed by somebody'.

"Whilst the statue itself might be a very polarising figure, it's all the same iconic," Mr Anton said.

Why? Just why? Credit: Jon Arnold Images Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo
Why? Just why? Credit: Jon Arnold Images Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

"For every one person you find that says they don't like it or what it represents, you'll find another nine that say they do like it.

"I respect everyone's opinions and I just hope that everyone respects mine."

The massive Cook statue was erected in 1972, and once heralded the entrance to a highway motel, which is now long-gone.


"All the kids that I knew that lived in Mareeba and in all the outlying areas, they always knew they were in Cairns when they saw Captain Cook waving at them," Mr Anton said, reliving the more innocent days of the statue.

While he wouldn't reveal how much the massive captain cost, he did say the terms of sale were crystal clear - if it falls to bits when he removes it, there is no refund.

"We hope we don't end up with just his head at the end of it," he said. "It's caveat emptor — let the buyer beware."


Mr Anton will let the old fella have a lie down for a while, as he's 'been standing very resolutely for the last 50 years'.

"It's about time he had a bit of a rest so we're going to lie him down for a little while until we can take his pulse, so to speak," he said.

Mr Anton has not revealed any plans of returning the roadside icon to public viewing.

The eight-metre-tall monument has stood alongside the highway for decades, and has been subject of criticism for just as long.


In 2020, a petition was launched to take down the enormous figure and it managed to rack up more than 19,000 signatures.

Three years earlier on Australia Day, protesters placed a banner over the saluting statue emblazoned with the 'sorry' across the front.

The navigator is a symbol of colonialism and a sore point for indigenous groups, but many have also asked why Captainn Cook is raising his arm like a Nazi salute?

Well, Cairns Historical Society vice-president and history lecturer at James Cook University Jan Wegner has the answer.


"The reason why Captain Cook has his hand outstretched is that in the illustration he is trying to stop some Aboriginals throwing spears at him," she told the ABC.

So, not great on all fronts then.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Australia, News, Racism

Rachel Lang
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