Is the Stuart statue next?


p2132-Stuart-statue-1LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – Will the world’s latest colour revolution now being coaxed into a nation-destroying blaze across the USA find incendiary copycats here in Australia?
I hope I’m wrong, but almost as if on cue we may see another history-denying effort to remove Stuart’s statue from Stuart Park.
Why? By all accounts Stuart was an inoffensive but intrepid explorer who was the first European to travel from south to north and back again through the middle of Australia. Surely that was a journey worth commemorating.
And, of course he carried a gun.
It’s not hard to see the link between any renewed effort to remove Stuart’s statue in Alice Springs and the controversy over Captain Cook’s statue in Sydney.
We all now know Cook did not “discover” Australia. He was, however, the first European navigator to explore the eastern coastline, and his voyage did herald the birth of modern Austrlia. A more accurate plaque would be corrective enough, and not before time.
The same could apply to statues of the great American general, Robert E Lee. He was foremost a states’ rights defender, not a defender of slavery.
There is a possible way around this local issue that could be satisfactory to all. Those objecting to the statue could choose a subject, commission a statue and lobby Council to have it installed in the same park where Stuart’s statue now stands. I imagine Council would embrace the chance to balance the story being told there.
Hal Duell
Alice Springs


  1. To me the statue looks a monument to terra nullius. It tells only one side if a big story. The council that accepted this donation should put up some bucks for another statue that will help tell the whole story.

  2. The statue is a celebration of the incredible feats of an individual in a foreign land. His achievements are based on well documented, verifiable facts. In every race, in every culture there are individuals whose exploratory achievements are equally worthy of recognition.
    These achievements first and foremost must be recognised for what they are. Individual brilliance.
    They should not be seen primarily through the racially stereotyped prism. All that does is promote the petty politics of different cultures as though it is some sort of cultural competition.
    Fairminded people of all races and cultures genuinely recognise these individuals of whatever race. Historians, elders and all interested students of Aboriginal and TI cultures should do their due diligence research of any individual they think deserves recognition, and then lobby to get a statue erected, as with Stuart and Cook. Advocating to tear down existing statues to these blokes just looks petty and meanspirited.

  3. An incredible feat for Stuart to be able to travel across a harsh and unknown, to him, environment.
    If you recognise that and agree that it should be honored with a public artwork surely you would agree that it is also an amazing achievement for Arrernte people to have lived in that very same environment for countless generations.
    Arrernte did it first and also deserve recognition.

  4. Changing / removing a statue won’t change a damn thing.
    We can’t change history – we can only learn from our mistakes.

  5. Guns aside, so many loaded sentences in this letter Hal.
    Why are so many contributers to the discussions about this artwork so quick to recast the narrative (past and present) so simplisticly?
    Contemporary Central Australia should hold the line and continue to aspire to better story telling about this matter.
    Undoubtedly, the Stuart Statue remains arguably one of the most important pieces of public art to be installed in our region – and it is important to remember that those in the community who spoke out in varying degrees of disappointment about the 2010 installation (i.e. originally planned for the town council lawns), were from many different backgrounds and perspectives, and contributed to the public debate about this artwork intelligently and in a dignified manner.
    As regards the relevant international developments to which you refer (and Stan Grant’s local contextualization), all I have heard “on cue” are lightweight puff pieces in mainstream media (looking at you NT News) and the usual conservative hyperventilators who more often than not, are missing the point.

  6. I agree with Hal’s comments and endorse the fact that Stuart was a passive explorer and achieved a remarkable feat by crossing that vast distance safely.
    Note that although he had a rifle it would have been used 99% of the time to hunt for food, no different to hunting with a spear.
    Also there are many statues of Truganini in Tasmania so nothing to stop a statue of any prominent Aboriginal pioneer big erecated in the same way.

  7. Number 19 sounds very familiar to more and more people who want something to suit their opinion.
    The first thing out of their mouths is the government or someone else should do it or provide the monies to have it done.
    You have the benefits of today’s society simply because people like Stuart got off their ass and put a bit of personal effort into things.

  8. Also the council spent quite a bit of our money installing and moving this statue several times.
    I believe the council is here for all the citizens and should be careful not to hide or obscure our history just to honor an obscure religious group.

  9. @ Number 19: When Stuart first explored the continent it was “Terra Nullus”.
    He obliviously did not find any signs or plaques saying this was Arrernte country? There was a choice for our first peoples to stay in the desert or adopt a better way of life and numerous choices of health services, modern transport and housing etc.
    Also how bigoted is Stan Grant (ref: Edan Baxter’s 11/9/17 article), as he chooses to live 100% white man’s way and take all the benefits that come with it, but deny that this only happened because of Capt. Cook’s discoveries (yes discoveries because they were mapped, circulated and declared into records and claimed by Great Britain).
    Let him stand in peace and be a great tourist landmark for this town.

  10. Ironic that tourists and their dollars travel the Stuart Highway predominently to experience the Northern Territory’s Aboriginal culture.

  11. No obvious signs written in English saying it was Arrernte country. But obviously the people who lived here and he encountered on his way lived here – der.
    I don’t think the early settlers gave people many choices. They weren’t offering a ticket to Adelaide and a house and health care. It was a bit more like work for me for no wages or get off my land. And these bullets are my title deed.


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