• A cyclist rides past the sculpture on one of the mountain bike trails in WA's Margaret River region. (MTB Guidebook)Source: MTB Guidebook
A popular but unauthorised artwork has been destroyed after a government department decided it was disrespectful to Indigenous people in WA.
NITV Staff Writer

7 Dec 2018 - 12:24 PM  UPDATED 7 Dec 2018 - 12:24 PM

Mountain bikers in Western Australia are upset that a wooden sculpture was destroyed after being deemed “culturally offensive” to Traditional Owners.

The 2m-tall carving appeared last week on a cycling track near Margaret River and was reminiscent of the monolithic statues on Easter Island known as Moai by the Rapa Nui people.

The sculpture was nicknamed “Woody” by off-road cyclists, some of whom hoped it could have become a local landmark.

But within days of the sculpture’s appearance, WA’s Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions ordered the local cycling association to remove it.

A department spokeswoman told NITV: "It was done without approval from the land manager and is culturally offensive to the Traditional Owners."

It was carved from a large log with a chainsaw by Ian Thwaites, a high school woodwork teacher who has created several public artworks in the area.

“It’s unbelievable,” he told the West Australian newspaper. “There was no insult intended to the Indigenous people whatsoever — it was such a major surprise.”

The Margaret River Off Road Cycling Association complied with the order to remove the sculpture but expressed disappointment with the decision.

“We understand the department are in between a rock and a hard place with this one,” an association spokesman said.