Home at last?

Two years after the debacle over the erection of a giant statue depicting explorer John McDouall Stuart, the Alice Springs Town Council and McDouall-Stuart Lodge no.219 announced this morning that they have agreed to locate the statue “which was gifted to Council by the Lodge” at the western end of Stuart Park on Stuart Terrace.

Further, council has made an an application to the Heritage Committee for approval of the placement, required because Stuart Park is part of the town’s Heritage Precinct. That committee will next meet in October.

In August 2010 Stuart Park was chosen as an alternative location to the Civic Centre lawns following controversy over the statue – its size and character and the fact that the explorer is depicted carrying a gun. Its creator, folk sculptor Mark Egan, is perhaps best known for his giant Anmatjere man, woman and child located at the Aileron Roadhouse.

The Stuart statue’s placement in Stuart Park was deferred when council realised it needed heritage approval for the site. The statue has been stored at an undisclosed location ever since.

Pictured: Masonic Grand Master for SA and NT, Brother Ray Clark together with Mayor Damien Ryan at the statue’s unveiling in August 2010. From the Alice Springs News archive.

 

From our archive:

 

Volume 17, Issue 28. August 12, 2010.

 

Stuart statue comes and goes 

 

By KIERAN FINNANE.

 

The veiled statue of John McDouall Stuart, explorer and Mason, was last Friday afternoon lowered by a crane into a temporary pedestal on the Town Council lawns, speeches were made, the statue duly unveiled and then it was taken away again.

A cheerful atmosphere prevailed even if the controversy over this gift to the community of Alice Springs occasionally rose to the surface.

Everyone played their part.

A phalanx of local Freemasons, in dark suits and Masonic regalia, stood at the edge of the gathering.

Brother Les Pilton, of the McDouall Stuart Lodge Number 219, introduced Mrs Betty Pearce, with an elevated reference as “the senior native title member of the Arrernte people”, who had “graciously offered to present a ‘welcome to country’”. (Mr Pilton is pictured below left, with Mrs Pearce standing behind him, together with Mayor Ryan and Mr Clark. From the Alice Springs News archive.)

Mrs Pearce spoke of the “pioneer spirit, the spirit of Alice Springs and how we need to be looking at our future … in the spirit of being together, advancing together”.

Her ideas in that direction were to have dual street names – “Central Arrernte names as well as white man, non-Aboriginal names so we can have an absolutely unique town”.

She also wanted to see an “Alice Springs Garden of History” created at Stuart Park with “busts and statues of all the other pioneers, the Aboriginal ones, the cameleers, the miners”.

“It would be our history and McDouall Stuart would be the first one to start that history off,” said Mrs Pearce, before she accompanied Mr Pilton to touch the still veiled statue with her walking stick.

Mrs Pearce also commented on the concerns expressed over the statue carrying a gun: “Well let’s face it, back in the old days and even in today’s days when people want to go out bush, hunting or looking for food, they carry guns.

And I know lots of Aboriginal people with licenses to go shooting and they get kangaroo and stuff like that. So really speaking, let’s forget about that gun and let it die.”

Brother Ron Ross played a Robbie Burns song on the bag pipes, “A man’s a man for all that”.

Mr Pilton described the gifting of the statue as “a risk taken by members of McDouall Stuart Lodge … just a group of people holding a belief that this explorer should be recognised. We got support in our belief by the townspeople we spoke to”.

He warned anyone considering building a statue that “the road is long and tough”.

“It seemed that the only opportunity to keep fit these last few weeks was to continually jump hurdles placed in the way.”

He thanked Mayor Damien Ryan and the council for the opportunity of presenting the statue, suppliers who had supported the cause, the SA and NT Grand Master who was here to do the unveiling and finally “our sculptor Mark Egan, a local lad, Territory born and bred”.

“To work with and alongside his creative genius is awe-inspiring. He has done us proud to have come this far and stick to the task when it appeared alas our labour was lost.”

Barry Skipsey sang a song composed by himself and Dave Evans about Stuart, called “What drives a man”.

“What a wonderful day, a beautiful day,” he said as he thanked the crowd for their applause.

Mayor Damien Ryan acknowledged, as he always does, “the Central Arrernte people who are the traditional owners and custodians of Alice Springs”.

He said the statue and ceremony will “help us mark the 150th anniversary of Stuart’s expedition through the Centre of Australia”.

He commented on a replica of “a stunning 19th century oil painting of John McDouall Stuart [that] was presented to the people of Alice Springs fittingly by Australia’s very first local government which was the City of Adelaide”, seeming to make a link between this uncontroversial gift and the one “being presented to our town by the Freemasons”, which he accepted “on behalf of the Alice Springs community”.

He spoke of the reasons why we remember Stuart – “his sense of determination and his explorer spirit … his commitment to Central Australia … I mean this is part of our heritage here in Central Australia”.

Ted Egan sang his song about Stuart, “Rider in the mirage” which will feature on his forthcoming album, but spoke first about Stuart and about his son, Mark, who had borne the brunt  of some of the criticism of the statue.

He said Mark had researched his subject and would not have undertaken the commission had there been evidence of aggression by Stuart towards Aboriginals.

“On the contrary,” said Mr Egan, “when confronted by the Waramungu at Attack Creek, he graciousy turned around and went back to Adelaide.

He did not want any confrontation.

“So the gun does not represent invasion, people who are using ‘invasion’ are using it very ill-advisedly.

“The gun represents the man who is struggling against the harsh interior and living off the land to try to cross this country.”

(For a different reading of what happened at Attack Creek, see Dick Kimber in Issue 1709 – search our foundation archive.)

It was almost time for the unveiling, done jointly by the Masonic Grand Master for SA and NT, Brother Ray Clark, together with the Mayor.

Mr Clark made his thankyous including to “the community of Alice Springs for allowing Freemasons to be involved in celebrations”.

PRIDE

He expressed pride in the fact “that many of our early pioneers such as Sir Charles Todd and John McDouall Stuart and other leading citizens of Alice Springs … were all Freemasons” and talked about the work in the community that Freemasonry does today.

He noted that it took Stuart, this “go-getter explorer”, five attempts to cross the continent and made a light-hearted reference to the controversy around the statue: “It will take a few attempts too for this statue to find its final destination.”

Until the actual unveiling all reference to the controversy came from those officially taking part in the ceremony.

Several people who had expressed concern over council’s processes around the gifting observed the ceremony without making their presence felt.

Another small group had held up a banner throughout the proceedings, reading “No room for racism”. Some of them, if not all, are associated with the Intervention Rollback Action Group, including activist Barbara Shaw who is standing for the Greens in Lingiari.

As the statue was unveiled to cheers and applause from the crowd there was some booing from this group and cries of “Shame on you!”.

As this persisted, Barry Skipsey urged the assembly to give three cheers for McDouall Stuart, which many did.

Proceedings over and a cold breeze blowing, the crowd soon dispersed and the crane moved back into place to take the statue away until the issues around its final location are resolved.

 

Below: Local Freemasons at the unveiling in August 2010. From the Alice Springs News archive.

 

Volume 17, Issue 28. August 12, 2010.

 

Stuart statue: Where to from here?

 

How confident can we be that the fiasco surrounding the yet-to-be-finalised erection of the statue of John McDouall Stuart will not be repeated?

There will be a review of the public art policy.

CEO Rex Mooney says this has been called for for some time by the Public Art Advisory Committee.

It will become a priority once the committee has finished dealing with the public art that is to be installed in the Aquatic and Leisure Centre, says Mr Mooney.

He mentions as an area of concern the clause relevant to the current controversy, dealing with gifting, saying that the intention behind the clause was to deal with gifting to the Public Art Collection and that statues are not mentioned.

He says statues are clearly public art, but there is a grey area in the policy concerning dealing with them.

Is council intending to remove this area from the purview of the committee or is it approaching the review with an open mind?

Mayor Damien Ryan says the intention is “trying to get something that everyone’s happy with”, commenting that council has reviewed a lot of things, such as the public places by-laws, and the subdivision and development guidelines.

Who’ll be contributing to the review?

The advisory committee and council, says Mr Mooney.

“If you’re asking if there are going to be any parameters set at the outset, there won’t be.”

It is both the council’s and the Freemasons’ intention that the Stuart statue finds its final home at the heritage-protected Stuart Park.

The Freemasons will be making the requisite application to the Heritage Minister, Gerry McCarthy, as part of the gifting process.

Once they have heritage approval “we’ll have to sign off on it as controllers of the land”, says Mr Ryan.

And what if they don’t gain approval?

“I’m not going down that track,” says Mr Ryan.

If there were any doubt, it became absolutely clear last Friday that the statue is not only in honour of Stuart the explorer, who was a Mason, but honours Freemasonry itself.

Three out of the four plaques to be affixed to the pedestal refer in some way to Freemasonry.

One understandably acknowledges the gift of the McDouall Stuart Lodge and the unveiling if it by the SA and NT Grand Master, Brother Ray Clark.

The one that gives Stuart’s life dates – 7th September 1815 to 5th June 1866 – does so under a Masonic symbol, even though Stuart was only inducted into Freemasonry a year before the 1860 expedition, as the crowd were informed by Brother Les Pilton last Friday.

A further plaque lists past members of the McDouall Stuart Lodge, 146 of them, many well-known names.

A question to Mr Ryan about whether council is concerned about this earns a lecture on Australian civic values.

“I find it really interesting that maybe some people who are born Australian don’t actually understand what [this] is about,” he says.

He then reads from information he refers to during citizenship ceremonies: “All Australians have a commitment to various values and institutions and these include parliamentary democracy, equality before the law, freedom of the individual, freedom of speech and religion, equality between men and women, equality of opportunity for all.”

“People who become citizens have to look into that before they do it,” says Mr Ryan.

“It seems that there are others out there who may not really understand that’s really a part of life. We live in a  multi-cultural town. A gift was made by somebody this year in relation to the 150th Anniversary.”

So how would council respond to a request to construct a monument from other groups?

Mr Ryan retorts: “I thought you were here to report the news, not to make the news. And when that happens, let’s discuss that issue.”

Mr Ryan clearly mistakes concerns about perceived special treatment by council for a particular interest group for an attack on freedom of speech and religion.

The Alice News attempts to move on to a question about potential conflict of interest.

Mr Ryan heads off any elaboration about the legitimacy of this question:

“That is what is so disappointing to me by the people reporting on this issue.

“There was no conflict of interest stated by any member of council.

“Now we do things in council every month and I accept that the people in there understand conflict of interest.

“That there’s been this driving point by certain journalists actually undermines the integrity of all the elected members.

“You’re saying they don’t understand conflict of interest and that is a disappointment to me.”

Actually not saying it, asking a question. Again he cuts the News off.

“No, no. They’d never ask that question on rubbish or something else.

“It’s been a driven point and I’ve not answered it up to this point because I’ve been so disillusioned that people who report on council wouldn’t actually see the integrity of the elected members who have the opportunity to issue their conflict of interest on any issue that goes to council. That’s the most disappointing fact.”

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19 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Russell Guy
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:25 am

    There have been some interesting comments posted over this statue of Stuart, including the use of land, which at the time of British Settlement became Crown Land.
    Since then, Government Reserves have become Christian Missions and they in turn have become Aboriginal communities and various forms of Land Rights have ceded title to what were once, and are today, Traditional Owners, according to Dreaming apportioned parcels of land, contributing to a cultural schema which enriches our country beyond measure.
    Stuart’s journey of exploration brought pastoralists, miners and others into central Australia, including the Overland Telegraph Line, linking to the rest of the world, the railway and transport.
    It has been so in the history of colonisation of Indigenous peoples and the post-colonial process is on-going, but in the postmodern deconstruction, we need to understand how the past has contributed to the present intergenerational inheritance of Indigenous people. Stuart’s story, as told by John Bailey, gives some insight into the man and his, sometimes dubious supporters who set the modern period in train.
    There is a debate about further division of land titles, well-reported by the AS News Online, allowing Aboriginal interests to trade in lease and freehold title and this will require a change of legislation, but if it helps us to achieve productivity, hopefully, learning by the example of other states where the mining industry is monolithic in its take-over of land that is and can be used for other purposes, e.g., tourism, agriculture and living without mining, then bring it on.
    The Freemasons did not anticipate the public art scuffle when they commissioned Mark Egan, nor did the sculptor imagine that his statue of Stuart would incur such debate and I wonder what went through Stuart’s mind as he lay dying, penniless, in England.
    I hope that all heads will cooperate and, even in losing face if that be the case, that Stuart will be given the respect he deserves. It seems to me that an historical reserve would be best, given the controversy over a public place and that in the future, those who view this statue can be reminded of Stuart’s towering place in the history of central Australia and how the present owes his trail-blazing, notwithstanding those Indigenous cultures who observed the movement through their lands, including the events at Attack Creek, where he recoiled.
    I find historicity to be a fascinating thing and one of the reasons why Australian history is more than just a personal hobby. Wisdom in hindsight owes its existence to it.

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  2. Bob Durnan
    Posted August 28, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Erwin, your Editor’s note on Russell Guy’s post (Russell Guy, Posted August 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm) states “It’s land rights, not native title, which created inalienable Aboriginal freehold”. You make reference to “inalienable Aboriginal freehold”, but this is not what Guy was writing about. I think you may be misinterpreting what Guy was saying, as it appears to me that he was referring to the distinction between claiming whatever residual Native Title rights you might continue to hold in relation to any land (whether it be leasehold, freehold, alienated Crown land or vacant Crown land), and claiming actual full legal title to unalienated land. (The NTA does not permit Native Title claimants to claim full legal title over alienated land).
    Although the Native Title Act enables claimants to claim some rights over alienated land, it is not capable of interfering with the freehold or leasehold title to land – i.e. a successful Native Title claim cannot cause it to be “alienated”, although it may gain recognition of the Native Title holders’ residual rights to enter onto, camp, hunt and gather, and conduct ceremonies on it. These are not rights to ownership of the land, but simply rights to make use of the land in certain ways and under certain circumstances.
    [ED – Thanks, Bob. Further to this Russell has provided the following explanation: I spoke to Noel Pearson about this and read his book in which he details his involvement in, and the outcome of the post-Mabo, Native Title legislation.
    The point that I wish to make is this: In the present wash-up to the 1976 NT Land Rights law, the Mabo-inspired dismantling of the Terra Nullius doctrine and the subsequent Native Title
    legislation, Indigenous claimants still have to prove that they have maintained an attachment to the land under claim and in many cases, e.g., where freehold has been granted to non-Indigenous interests, that land is no longer able to be claimed.
    Our recent story “Native Title to become national path to indigenous land acquisition?” deals with these issues.]

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  3. Hal Duell
    Posted August 28, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Bob (Posted August 27, 2012 at 11:02 am),
    There are few aspects of our modern life that I abhor more than the ever present and growing gun culture. It taints our life from the assassination orders documented as coming from the Obama White House to Mexican drug cartels to random acts in alleyways and on street corners. Look at the Middle East! Mozambique has a Kalashnikov of its flag. Video games seem to be all about killing.
    As depressing as all that is, I think it’s drawing a long bow to equate the Stuart statue with any of it.
    I do agree with you that the statue would be better placed elsewhere, and to that end I hope the Heritage Minister does not allow it onto Stuart Park. A far better place for it, in my opinion, would be on top of the rocky hill that separates the car park from the lawns at the Old Telegraph Station. If put there facing north it would be in its correct historical setting, and a background of blue sky would suit it well.
    Every tourist that visits Alice is directed to the Telegraph Station. They could walk up the hill and read a bit about our history.
    But I’m not holding my breath. I think it will probably go in Stuart Park on Stuart Terrace in a town that was originally named Stuart.
    I only hope Council has budgeted for maintenance. Paint bombs might be the least of it.

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  4. Leigh Childs
    Posted August 28, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Looking at the statue’s photo, it looks more like just an excuse to display a bunch of blokes names on a plaque, who belong to an outdated and outmoded clubby club. In the article’s description no mention is made that the huge plinth carries a map of Stuart’s explorations [maybe it does]. I would have thought this had much more relevance to the “story” of Stuart than lists of blokes who had nothing or very little, to do with either Stuart or this statue.
    If I remember correctly, the Freemasons had a chat with the Mayor [in private, I believe] in March and he gave his OK without consulting the Council’s own Public Art Committee and it wasn’t till August that this donation was made public. The Mayor had lots of time to consult with his own committee, but seemed to choose not to. The Mayor and other holders of public office need to understand that just because someone wishes to donate a piece of “art” this does not mean that it has to be accepted or that it is appropriate to the town or time.
    PS.: I have thoroughly enjoyed 12 out of the 13 comments made. Keep up the good dialogue, people.

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  5. Posted August 27, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    I am totally with Hal on this one. Not a word has been said about Anmatjere Man’s spear at Aileron yet as soon as a statue is unveiled which includes a rifle all hell breaks loose? Let this issue rest.
    However, I am in favor of moving it off Stuart Park. And Bob, when could you last describe Stuart Park as a “beautiful area”? Every day it is covered with rubbish which we ratepayers have to foot the bill to have cleaned up. It would be a “beautiful area” if this were not the never ending case. When the statue was first discussed I proposed that it be erected on the corner of Stuart Terrace and Bath Street right next to the Reptile Centre on that awful piece of vacant land. I would happily welcome it there, rifle and all.

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  6. David Chewings
    Posted August 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    @ Hal Duell Posted August 19 2012 at 4:08 pm
    @ Hal Duell Posted August 27 2012 at 12: 30 am
    You have posted here, regarding the John McDouall Stuart statue, that you reckon it’s OK wherever they put it … and let’s get it up.
    Not good enough Hal.
    In another Territory publication, a member of the Alice Springs Public Art Advisory Committee, Lisa Stefanoff, states clearly that the committee was not consulted two years ago or this year either. Will the town council get away with such an obvious lack of consultation?
    D. R. Chewings aka THE lone dingo

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  7. Bob Durnan
    Posted August 27, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Hal (Posted August 27, 2012 at 12:30 am), I fully realise that the rifle is historically accurate, and that it has a stabilising role in the statue’s construction. However, in the local context, it also makes a very big contemporary social and political statement, echoing not just the events and style of old colonial and settler history, but also the general aura surrounding guns and easy killing and intimidating in our society (celebrated and normalised in much gaming culture, as well as in much of the international film culture, war culture, law enforcement ideology, military culture, the strong hunting sub-culture, not to mention television epics such as Underbelly, The Straits and Breaking Bad, and a multitude of web sites).
    In local terms, we have had a lengthy series of murders, homicides, suicides, rapes and other assaults and robberies involving guns in recent decades (including the deaths of a number of my acquaintances, one of them a close friend who was shot at the Barrow Creek roadhouse), and it is this which I believe makes the presence of the rifle entirely inappropriate. Whilst I also accept that this resonance was completely unintended, there is the issue of ideation as a strong component in triggering violent outbursts by immature and/or fragile minds. I believe the statue’s endorsement will prove to be highly regretted over time if the town permits it to stand in an honoured position in a Council park. Let’s just quietly put the guns away. There are enough of them out there on other memorials already.

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  8. Hal Duell
    Posted August 27, 2012 at 12:30 am

    I haven’t checked this post in awhile and didn’t realise the gun was still an issue.
    In its defence, I would point out that on the one hand it is historically accurate, and that on the other it makes a tripod – a stable construction for an object as big and heavy as the Stuart statue.
    I’m with those who see no more of an issue in it than with the Anmatjere Man’s spear, another tripod.
    The statue itself is a monumental work. Let’s get it up.
    And from memory, didn’t Howard move on guns after Port Arthur, a demented tragedy of US dimensions that gave him the political capital to make his historic move. I have often thought that Howard did two things which I could agree with – at the beginning of his reign he moved on guns and at the end he brought in the Intervention.

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  9. Russell Guy
    Posted August 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    In the interests of keeping the record straight, I would like to clarify my comment below where I noted that “historically, the gun wasn’t an issue.” This was intended to directly refer to Stuart, lest his reputation be besmirched by those who used the gun to slaughter Aboriginal people in the multiple instances of massacre recorded in history and folklore, e.g, the Kalkadoons of Mt Isa.
    I have given another example in the case of Ludwig Leichhardt where I believe there was goodwill existing between the inevitable incursion by Europeans into Indigenous lands, something which Native Title has, belatedly, but importantly, sought to redress with established freehold remaining inalienable.
    In his recently published book about Leichhardt, John Bailey wrote “Leichhardt believed that a hundred miles beyond white settlement the Aboriginals were more likely to be curious or frightened than aggressive. It was only through contact with settlers who took their land, abused the women and ran drays through their sacred sites that hostilities arose” (2011: 152).
    [ED – It’s land rights, not native title, which created inalienable Aboriginal freehold.]

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  10. Russell Guy
    Posted August 25, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Bob@August 25. Thanks for clarifying your position on the Stuart statue in terms of the appropriateness of its public display in contemporary Alice Springs.
    Recent, illegal gun culture activity in Western Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin is certainly of major concern. Lawlessness is increasing in the USA and Australia in relation to guns. Howard’s move against automatic weapons was notable. I commented that at the time of the Port Arthur tragedy which, from memory, occurred after Howard’s move, one person with a weapon may have shortened that rampage and that’s the essence of the American defence. It helps explains the level of violence coming out of Hollywood, which seems to enthrall our own film industry at times.
    In reply to your concern about the Stuart statue’s presence in Alice Springs, I haven’t taken a position on where or if it should be displayed. I noted that historically, the gun wasn’t an issue, but since your clarification, I agree that it sets a militarist example as opposed to a pacifist.
    At a time in our society when I believe we should be sending better messages to youth in alcohol supply and promotion, gun control is right up there with pornography and other drugs.
    It’s the height of hypocrisy for society to sanction alcohol and allow it to be sold seven days a week, while trying to uphold a value structure that holds water.
    I’m sure there are a lot of people who would disagree on manhood and guns, but the detail is in the State empowerment of weaponry for armed enforcement and appropriate licensing.
    What defines a man is a debate which is sorely needed as are role models willing to stand up and engage with it. Thanks for expressing your truly noble sentiments.

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  11. Bob Durnan
    Posted August 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Russell, On this, as on a great many other things, I strongly disagree with Betty.
    I am not saying that Stuart didn’t need or shouldn’t have carried a gun. I’m just saying that I don’t believe that, under all the circumstances, it would be appropriate to have it featured so prominently, if at all, in any commemorative feature about explorers in public parks in Alice Springs.
    Despite John Howard’s brave and far-sighted moves to reduce the power of gun culture within Australian society it is still a powerful force and there are still far too many kids being raised to regard possession of guns as normal and even the mark of manhood.
    We don’t feel compelled to include Stuart’s horse, compass, or many other essential items that helped him, so why have a gun out front? It’s not a matter of whether he personally ever used the weapon inappropriately. It’s just that he is emblematic of that epoch’s international caste known as “the explorers”, and many of them did. To my way of thinking, the imagery is wrong in our times and in this place.

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  12. Russell Guy
    Posted August 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Thank you, David THE Lone Dingo. The “We of the Never Never” statues opposite the Mataranka pub are also worthy and life-like with appropriate inscription. Yvonne (?) did those and Mark Egan told me that she traveled the NT for many years in a Coaster. I hope to check out Penola one day.

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  13. Posted August 25, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Russell Guy, thank you for another thoughtful piece from your fine mind.
    Penola, in SA, is a town which has had a flourish, in terms of public art in recent years. I have no doubt that the Alice could benefit from the ways that you, Bob Durnan and other locals suggest.
    Dimboola is another peaceful little town which can provide a good example for the Alice. Dimmy has had zero racial tension for many years.
    The local police station is proud to fly the Aboriginal First Australians flag.
    Penola is part of the Limestone Coast, my stomping ground and is where we whitefellas destroyed the local culture through colonisation etc.
    Like Tassie, the place is well worth a visit especially as the weather warms.
    D. R. Chewings aka THE lone dingo

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  14. Russell Guy
    Posted August 25, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Bob Durnan@August 24.
    Bob, you raise many issues, but let’s just take the issue of Stuart carrying a gun, which Betty Pearce has dealt with above by saying “let it die.’
    Are you saying that Stuart shouldn’t have undertaken this journey or that he shouldn’t have carried a gun? Both are defensible, the latter, for shooting food and for protection, the former was inevitable.
    Leichardt, a botanist, naturalist, explorer, wanderer, who named nothing for himself, carried a gun from Moreton Bay to Port Essington and the only time he had to use it, apart from shooting game, was when attacked because one of the two Indigenous guides allegedly sought relations with a woman on more than once occasion.
    Instances of the Black Native Police, led by a white police officer, where Snider rifles proved more effective than sorcery, decimated their own mob around NW Qld, indicating that it’s not always the weapon in whose hands it is, although, gun control, like alcohol as you well know, is a useful addition to a peaceful community.
    I don’t see Stuart’s rifle as an issue. Historicity presents us with a veil in many instances of contact between Indigenous and whitefellers, appalling as some travelers through Terra Incognita were and Terra Nullius has been disproved with mixed results as we attempt to harmonise the post-colonial, postmodern rent.
    Incidentally, it was the Freemasons, of whom Stuart was a member, not the Loyal Buff Order who are involved in this interesting public art scuffle. I’ve often thought how interesting it would be if certain statues could come to life and give us a bit of their own.

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  15. Bob Durnan
    Posted August 24, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Re Hal Duell (Posted August 19, 2012 at 4:08 pm):
    I beg to differ with both the always civil and reasonable Hal Duell and Russell Guy, and the increasingly apoplectic Mrs Brown on this.
    I say, thank goodness for the gumption of the local artists and others who took on this statue’s supporters and objected to it being placed, without artistic advice or public consultation, on the Council lawns in 2010.
    I don’t believe that it necessarily should have a place in a public location in Alice. Despite the good intentions and generous spirit of its creator and the Loyal Buffalo Order people, it has little to recommend it as a piece of public civic art.
    As a purely historic tribute to the efforts of this explorer, I don’t think it measures up either. Unfortunately the statue’s imagery and presentation will primarily send several problematic messages to many viewers, and obscure Stuart’s more admirable achievements.
    Its main effect will be to reinforce the doctrine held by some of our society’s more privileged individuals about “exploration” as being a legitimating, sacramental triumph, in itself a kind of transcendent ritual that rationalises and somehow justifies colonisation of Aboriginal lands by the Crown, and “settlement” by the Crown’s subjects. These people will view it as being an heroic and celebratory symbol in support of the manner of the occupation and annexation of most of the continent. It also serves to reinforce a more general, uncritical sentimentality about Europeans’ exploration and colonisation of the Australian inland. Another consideration is that it inadvertently celebrates the patriarchal clubs that helped entrench white male dominance of Australian society. Last, but not least, it seems to laud the absolute centrality of the gun in the European conquest of most of the planet over the last several centuries, even though this may not have been the intent of its producer.
    Stuart quite possibly deserves better than this. If the Town Council wants another memorial to this historically important person, it should commission an appropriate one.
    Nor does this statue deserve to get a home in the Stuart Park, just for the sake of “giving it a home”. Stuart Park is a beautiful area where the lack of grace and character in this statue would be pretty obvious to most viewers, and where its presence would act as a continuing cue for divisiveness.
    The most appropriate repository for this creation would probably be in one of the private “big thing” theme parks along Stuart’s route, where curiosities of interest to some travelers are displayed, such as Greg Dick provides at Aileron. It would also fit well with the ambience of Les Pilton’s Barrow Creek Roadhouse site.

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  16. Russell Guy
    Posted August 20, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Mark Egan lent me “Mr Stuart’s Track” by John Bailey who has recently published “Into the Unknown” about Ludwig Leichardt.
    Stuart’s story is reasonably well known by anyone interested in central Australian history and apart from what really happened at Attack Creek between his party and the Waramungu, even if it can be construed as aggression on his behalf, historicity rests essentially in emotional experience.
    Much can be learned from Stuart’s life and purpose, similarly with Jacky Jacky and Kennedy – it ain’t all apples doing the hard yards in human curiosity when it comes to the unknown.
    Mark Egan is a very gifted sculptor and deserving of public support.

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  17. Hal Duell
    Posted August 19, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Because of the poorly managed politics that interfered with the process, we have all been denied the pleasure of seeing another Mark Egan sculpture in Alice Springs.
    I reckon it’s OK wherever they put it, as long as it finally goes somewhere.

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  18. David Chewings
    Posted August 19, 2012 at 6:43 am

    @Janet Brown August 18 2012.
    You are stuck in the past Janet Brown if you believe that just a few people do not want the Stuart statue on council lawns. The fact is Janet that the twenty thousand people that you claim to know better than I were NEVER consulted in the first place.
    David Chewings aka THE lone dingo.

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  19. Janet Brown
    Posted August 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Half a dozen people did not want the statue on council lawns. When the majority say nothing it means they are happy with the choice. That means over 20,000 plus had no issue with the choice. I still want it on the council lawns. So why is that an issue.

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