Quigley Down Under?


p2134-JMS-statue-AboriginesBy KIERAN FINNANE
“I like it. I see he’s got a long rifle. He looks like Quigley Down Under,” says Natalie Madrill. She’s taking photos of her children, Ethan and Keithan Reiff, who have climbed onto the base of  in the park on Stuart Terrace.
Quigley, played by Tom Selleck, is the sharpshooting hero of a 1990 movie set in the Outback. His weapon of choice is a rifle with an exceptionally long barrel.
Does she know who the statue actually represents?
The Alice Springs News Online asked the Town Council about its plans for signage for the statue representing the explorer John McDouall Stuart.
They are coming along, says Director of Technical Services Greg Buxton. A council officer is in negotiation with the Freemasons over a plaque acknowledging them.
What? After council had to come up with $70,000 plus to install the statue?
The plaque will recognise the Freemasons’ “donation” of the statue itself, says Mr Buxton. There will be no plaque naming all the local Freemasons, as originally proposed.
Other plaques will tell viewers who the statue represents, what Stuart did, and a final plaque will acknowledge council and the community, with wording in progress.
And, why is there protective fencing between the statue and the road?
That’s there until works are undertaken to install a low fence and hedge, similar to that fronting the Royal Flying Doctor Service premises at the other side of the park. The fence will prevent people stepping onto the road as they step back to take photos.
The works are awaiting heritage approvals. There are also plans to define the space around the statue, similar to the curtilage around the stone cairn honouring the explorer, further to the east in the same park.
Meanwhile, the possibility of “collaboration” on a statue of an Aboriginal icon has been discussed in a meeting of the  partnership committee of the Town Council with native title corporation Lhere Artepe.
Michael Liddle was the only Lhere Artepe representative to attend. For council Mayor Damien Ryan, Councillors Jade Kudrenko and Eli Melky (apology from Cr Chansey Paech) and CEO Rex Mooney attended, with minutes recorded by council’s Jess Hackett.
The minute referring to the statue continues: “A suggestion that Stuart Park be made a type of Reconciliation Park with various statues from the history of Alice Springs has been mentioned to the CEO. This could be a joint venture between ASTC and LAAC.”
Readers may remember a suggestion along these lines being made by native title holder Betty Pearce at the temporary unveiling of the Stuart statue. See ‘Stuart statue comes and goes’ in our foundation archive (scroll down to find the report).
KIERAN FINNANE’S ‘Icons, living and dead’, gives a detailed account of the process around the ‘gifting’ of the  Stuart statue in contrast to the processes undertaken in the revitalisation of Todd Mall. Published in Griffith Review 44, the full text is now available online.


  1. The statue failed the original committee process which recommended council hand it back to the Masons, this action was ignored by council and it has been shopped around the committees until the sympathetic heritage committee passed it.
    If the Masons wanted to promote this controversial figure then I say stand him up on your own property out the front of your secret society hall.
    A precedent has now been set whereby any group can gift a statue to our council who is then obligated to spend $70,000 plus or look biased. Poor process and very poor result.

  2. Will the plaque acknowledging the community also acknowledge those members of it who resent the glorifying of this stranger who came into their country with no invitation and whose actions ultimately led to them losing their long held rights to live on their own lands.
    Not to mention all the other pain and discrimination that continues to this day.
    Will the plaque acknowledging Stuart and what he did tell both sides of the story or just the whitewashed version of history that the statue seems to represent?

  3. I have to say well done and I enjoy seeing it. The statue would be better facing the Flying Doctors were there is more parking. The people of Alice Springs need to have a more positive attitude as there are people in this town who are trying to promote this town.

  4. All for promotion of this lovely town.
    But when your spending other peoples money on it its best to invest it wisely and with minimum risk.
    Council had plenty of warning that this statue was controversial, to many offensive and both times he was stood up the process was questionable.
    The question is why did the CEO and Mayor take such a risk, it would have been easier and more cost effective to just hand it back? Why did they choose to spend $70K (and most likely more) for what appears to be zero return. What message are they sending, what symbolism is in this statue?
    Council may have been wiser to consult widely with the community (not just amongst themselves)as well as listening to the recommendations of the Public Art Advisory Committee.
    In regard to promotion of the town for tourism purposes it appears the majority of tourists nowadays come from around the world to engage with our Indigenous Culture and Art as well as to see and explore and tour Uluru, MacDonnell Ranges and other natural landmarks.
    I really doubt hoards are arriving to in Alice to look at expensively mounted masonic statues of obscure figures holding a guns.
    Its hard to watch so much money be wasted on this statue which brings so much unhappiness to so many people. Bring him down ASAP and park him at the Masonic Hall where those that are really interested can search him out.

  5. Obscure figures holding guns? Obscure figures? JMcD-S walked from Adelaide to the northern coast of Australia once, and nearly twice – three attempts. He was followed shortly after by Todd and the Overland Telegraph joining this continent to the rest of the world.
    Obscure? I suppose the writer has never heard of John Eyre, Ludwig Leichardt or William Dampier either.
    History is what happened in the 1800s for the majority of the modern population.
    Many of us are related to the explorers who opened up this land for you. If you are ashamed of them then leave – just go away.

  6. The statue is awesome and very welcomed by the great majority of Alice folk.
    Again we hear the same dribble from the regressive lefties that want to denigrate anything and everything sensible.
    Well done to the Freemasons for their gift and to Mark Egan for his art work.
    This is a great addition to Stuart Park and the heritage precinct.
    To all those detractors, go back to where you came from!

  7. I really like the story of Stuart and it is befitting to have such a wonderful statue in his honour.
    I’m actually surprised that the NT does not have many statues commemorating the achievements of so many great people. I also can’t believe that there is controversy around Stuart.
    If you have read his diary you will realise he was actually quite a progressive man for his time. He is a great symbol for tolerance which during his day was not considered a priority in getting a job done.
    Instead of shooting his way through as many others would have or did he actually turned back to avoid confrontation even when he had the firepower to do so.
    Those who attempt to distort history need to educate themselves a little. A very worthy statue for a very worthy man!

  8. Captain Cook was the first to discovery Australia, rubbish. Australia was not populated prior, more lies, this bloke is a legend, not a chance.
    Comically he is so significant that we stick him in the corner of park and further obscure him with trees and power poles.
    Masonic Hall is a much better resting place for him. I’m confident that he isn’t settled yet and once the dead wood is cleared from council he will be moved again.


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