Controversial statue of Captain Cook removed from Queensland street after being sold for just $1
- It’s the end of an era for iconic Cairns landmark which stood for half a century
- Removal of Captain Cook statue required a delicate operation on Tuesday
- Far north Queensland community divided over the statue, which will be restored
Fifty years of history and controversy has come to a dramatic end as an iconic statue of Captain James Cook begins its next voyage.
Standing 10 metres tall, the statue of the British explorer has been a Cairns landmark since 1972.
The giant monument has sparked outrage over the years for the infamous statue’s Nazi-like salute and because it stood as a ‘symbol of colonialism and genocide’ for indigenous Australians.
Dozens gathered at the site on Tuesday to witness history as the Captain Cook statue was brought down in a delicate operation to be relocated to a private property in the nearby Atherton Tablelands.
Demolition contractor Martin Anton reportedly bought 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 have a well-earned rest, he can lay down after standing for 50 years,’ he told Seven News.
‘No one can stand erect that long.’
Mr Anton hopes the restored statue will eventually be erected elsewhere.
‘He’s just going to be located on-site for storage purposes until the structural engineers have had a chance to go right over him and make sure he’s as good now as he was 50 years ago,’ he told the ABC.
‘You get better with age, don’t you?’
It was the third time lucky for the removal, which was previously postponed twice due to recent wet weather.
The giant statue was suspended mid-air by a crane before being carefully placed onto the back of a truck.
The historical moment for Cairns sparked a divided community reaction.
The removal of the 10 metre statue of Captain Cook required a careful and delicate operation
‘Destroy it, take it away, it just opens up wounds,’ First Nations resident Cheryl Creed said.
Almost 20,000 people signed a petition set up by indigenous artist Emma Hollingsworth for the statue to be removed during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘Since 1972, the James Cook statue on Sheridan Street has stood as a symbol of colonialism and genocide. It’s a slap in the face to all Indigenous people,’ the petition stated.
‘For us, it represents dispossession, forced removal, slavery, genocide, stolen land, and loss of culture – among many other things.’
The Captain Cook statue will be relocated to a private property in the nearby Atherton Tablelands to be restored
But some were sad to see the monument go.
‘So much of Cairns is being knocked down so it’s a question of trying to capture what you can,’ one woman told Seven News.
Some online suggested the statue be re-erected 325km north in Cooktown, a coastal town where the explorer beached his ship the Endeavour, for repairs in 1770.
James Cook University will develop a hospital at the Sheridan Street site where the statue stood for half a century.
Police were on hand to ensure the statue removal operation went according to plan