This paper examines the contestations surrounding the life-sized statue of Robert Towns in Townsville, north Queensland. Unlike many of the cases catalogued by Contested Histories, this statue was erected in recent history–in 2004–with funds from the local council, in spite of instant controversy. Towns was a merchant entrepreneur and ‘blackbirder’, whose ship ‘Don Juan’ brought one of the earliest shiploads of South Sea Islanders from present-day Vanuatu to labour on his Queensland properties in 1863.

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