Vandalism Strikes Captain Cook Monument in St Kilda: Calls for Restoration Amid Controversial Messaging

Captain Cook statue targeted in Melbourne in apparent Australia Day protest

Police reported that officers understood the statue had been sawn off at the ankles, and the plinth had been spray-painted with the message: “The colony will fall.” During the same time frame, several individuals were observed loitering in the vicinity, according to law enforcement.

The monument, dedicated to British explorer Captain Cook and unveiled in December 1914, is considered one of the earliest major memorials to him in Victoria. The engraving on the monument commemorates the departure date of the Endeavour from Plymouth in 1768 on Cook’s inaugural voyage, which included the charting of the east coast of Australia. Notably, the statue itself is a replica of one situated in England. It’s worth noting that Cook did not visit Port Phillip.

Simultaneously, a memorial to Queen Victoria in the Queen Victoria Gardens near the city center was also discovered vandalized on Thursday. The statue was sprayed with red paint and reportedly tagged with the same message, “the colony will fall.”

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan condemned the vandalism, stating that such actions have no place in society. She assured that efforts would be made in collaboration with the council to restore and reinstate the vandalized statue in St Kilda.

Opposition leader John Pesutto described the incident as “totally unacceptable” and emphasized the importance of peaceful and respectful protests. He reiterated support for the right to protest but stressed the necessity for it to be conducted in a non-violent manner.

Heather Cunsolo, the Port Phillip council mayor, expressed disappointment over the statue’s vandalism and highlighted the council’s support for a dawn “mourning reflection ceremony” by traditional owners promoting unity and reconciliation on Friday. She acknowledged the diverse views surrounding Australia Day but emphasized that the council cannot condone the vandalism of a public asset, as the costs would ultimately be borne by ratepayers.

Council officers had removed the statue for assessment, and efforts were underway to remove the graffiti. The damaged plinth stonework would also be repaired. The memorial has a history of being vandalized, especially leading up to January 26.

In 2018, the statue had pink paint dumped on it, accompanied by the words “no pride” beneath the feet, along with the Aboriginal flag. Despite prior arrangements for a security guard due to the statue’s history, the latest act of vandalism occurred before the guard’s scheduled arrival.