Home » News » Majority of public submissions oppose reinstatement of Bruny Island’s Captain Cook monument

Majority of public submissions oppose reinstatement of Bruny Island’s Captain Cook monument

Callan Morse – June 7, 2024

Out of 14 public submissions to Tasmania’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, only one was in favour of the reinstatement of Bruny Island’s Captain Cook memorial. (Image: Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania).

A Tasmanian statue celebrating Captain James Cook’s inaugural voyage may be taken down permanently after strong public opposition to the monument’s reinstatement.

The memorial, located at Blackfellows Point on Bruny Island, south-east of mainland Tasmania, was taken down in January 2022 amid concerns about the condition of the site, with Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service finding structural deterioration and associated safety risks.

The memorial was erected through a collaboration between the Tasmanian government and the Swedish American Line in 1970 to recognise the 200th anniversary of Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific region on the HMS Endeavour.

Following its removal, numerous representations had reportedly been made for the memorial’s reinstatement, leading to PWS conducting public consultation throughout February and March to determine the statue’s future.

14 submissions were received by the Tasmania’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, with a spokesperson confirming the vast majority were in opposition to the memorial’s reinstatement.

“Out of 14, one submission advocated for the reinstatement of the original monument,” the spokesperson said, The Mercury reports.

“PWS are currently investigating options for the future of the Captain Cook monument.”

According to the spokesperson, common themes in the submissions opposing the monument’s reinstatement were Blackfellows Point being an “insensitive” location and the monument’s “associated symbolism”.

Nala Mansell is a strong advocate for the removal of colonial-era monuments. (Image: Peter Mathew)

Following the consultation period, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre campaign coordinator, Nala Mansell, commended community support to have the memorial permanently removed.

“Captain Cook’s image and him as a person have been used against Aboriginal people right across the country as a way of claiming that we never existed and that we never owned our own lands,” she told The Mercury.

“And it’s disgraceful to see that Bruny Island still has… monuments celebrating such a horrible man.”

Ms Mansell called for further colonial monument removals a recently as last month.

“Tasmania is doing an amazing job at finally being able to look at the actions of different people and delve deep into whether or not those people deserve to be celebrated,” Ms Mansell said.

Contention surrounding the future of Bruny Island’s Captain Cook monument comes after the May vandalism and subsequent toppling of another Tasmanian colonial monument, Hobart’s William Crowther statue.

It is believed Crowther, a former Tasmanian premier and colonial-era surgeon, mutilated the body of Tasmanian Aboriginal man, William Lanne, to steal his skull, replacing it with another in a Hobart morgue before sending it to the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

In 2022, the Hobart City Council voted to remove the statue from the city’s Franklin Square, a decision appealed to and dismissed by the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TASCAT).

However the statue was cut down with phrases “WHAT GOES AROUND” and “DECOLONIZE” spray painted in red on its plinth the night before TASCAT were set to hand down their decision.