Victoria police are currently investigating an act of “criminal damage” to a century-old Captain Cook statue in St Kilda. The damage appears to be part of a protest connected to the Australia Day public holiday. In addition to this incident, a statue of Queen Victoria near Melbourne’s city center was also vandalized, doused in red paint.

The Captain Cook monument, erected in honor of the British explorer, is believed to be the first significant memorial to him in Victoria. The statue was unveiled in December 1914 and features an engraving commemorating the date of the HMS Endeavour’s departure from Plymouth in 1768 on Cook’s first voyage, which included the charting of the east coast of Australia.

The vandalism, as well as the graffiti on the plinth with the message “The colony will fall”, has sparked condemnation from both political leaders and local authorities. Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan and opposition leader John Pesutto have expressed their disapproval of the vandalism, emphasizing the importance of peaceful and respectful protests in a democratic society.

This is not the first time the Captain Cook statue has been the target of vandalism. In the lead-up to Australia Day in 2018, the statue was also vandalized with pink paint and the words “no pride” along with the Aboriginal flag.

The Port Phillip council mayor, Heather Cunsolo, expressed her disappointment over the vandalism, noting that the council had supported a dawn “mourning reflection ceremony” held by traditional owners promoting unity and reconciliation on Friday. The council has taken the statue away for assessment, and the graffiti is being removed. Repair work is also underway for the damage to the plinth stonework.

With the investigation ongoing and repair work in progress, the community anticipates the restoration of these historical statues as a sign of respect and unity.

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