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Steve Farmer ponders the merits of some of Australia’s odder tourist attractions (like a proposed giant statue of Julian Assange).


As RVers travelling this diverse country, we probably spend a fair chunk of our time checking out the tourist attractions in the towns and regions through which we pass. Those attractions are many and varied and can make travelling both interesting and educational.

Museums, historical villages, statues, monuments, art galleries, aquariums, zoos, nature displays, national parks, factories, industrial displays and, of course, giant "everythings", to name just a few.

The preferences of individual RVers will naturally depend on a number of factors, such as age, interests, health and physical abilities and whether they’re travelling with kids (and the age of those kids). While not all attractions appeal to every traveller, the majority are interesting, fun or educational — or all three — and, as such, appeal at least a little to most of us.

But have you ever visited a tourist attraction which simply left you cold? An attraction which seemed out of place with its surroundings, or even inappropriate?

What got me thinking along these lines was a proposal last year to build a statue of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, on Magnetic Island off Townsville in North Queensland. The proponents claimed that Assange had spent some of his childhood on the island (others disputed this claim) and deserved to be immortalised with a monument.

According to media reports, local tourism operators weren’t so sure — and I think their concern was justified.

"Maggie", as it’s known locally, is just a half hour’s ferry ride from Townsville and is both a suburb of the coastal city and a tourist destination. As well as a really relaxed lifestyle, the island also boasts an array of natural beauty, from its fringing coral reefs and picturesque bays and coastline, to the rugged mountains that tower over most of the island.

Now, no matter what you think of Julian Assange, whether he’s a hero or a villain, I reckon beautiful Maggie is no place for a statue of him — or almost anyone else for that matter. It would be an affront to the peace, beauty and laidback lifestyle which lures visitors to one of the north’s lesser-known holiday spots.

What do you reckon? Do you agree with me? Or would Maggie tourism benefit from having a statue of Mr Assange gracing its shores?

Also, tell us what sort of tourist attractions appeal to you. I’m sure tourism authorities would love to know. What gets you to stop for an hour, a day or a week to explore and experience all that a town or region has to offer. Do you like historic, natural or man-made attractions (to name just a few of the types on offer)?