Aussies baffled by national park's 'unusual' seating decision

Dorrigo's popular skywalk on the Mid North Coast of NSW has shocked visitors with their unusual sculptures.

Aussie wildlife incites a full spectrum of emotions from wonder to outright fear, yet one national park's decision to erect sculptures resembling an animal which makes people squirm is an "unusual" choice. But of course, Aussies are finding humour in the situation.

The huge sculptures at the entrance of the skywalk in NSW's Dorrigo National Park also double as seats for visitors to the popular tourist attraction. What better way to start your walk than passing by "giant" fibreglass leeches.

A recent visitor couldn't believe her eyes and posted images of them online. "Giant leeches ewww," she wrote. "How could they attract tourists?".

The leech sculptures at Dorrigo National Park in NSW are brown and yellow, installed on a grassy area in front of the skywalk entrance.
The leech sculptures at Dorrigo National Park have drawn attention, with many confused why the animal was chosen. Source: Facebook

"Giant suckers" bring mixed emotions to the surface

There was a mixed response to the sculptures which were installed in December 2022, with many finding them not only "terrifying" and "yucky" but also a seemingly random choice. "Yes, not one of the smartest things our community has done," one visitor wrote.

However others thought it was a "cool" way to raise awareness of the animals given they are frequently found in the national park. "I think they're cute, they're a part of bushwalking life. Suck it up!" another said.

It has become common for people to take images with the sculptures while they visit the national park with some wholesome snaps, while others have a slightly cruder undertone.

Left, a man sits with the leech in between his legs. Middle, a woman is perched on one of the sculptures. Right, a woman points at one while wearing sunglasses.
Visitors have been posing with the leech sculptures before and after their walk. Source: Facebook

National Park defends sculpture decision

Visitors of Dorrigo National Park will often encounter leeches and the decision to have sculptures which resemble the animals was made in hope they could be championed rather than misunderstood.

"Local rangers had the idea to build the giant sculptures after constantly being approached by visitors worried about leeches in the rainforest," a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia. "We’re looking to normalise these small rainforest inhabitants, and dampen some peoples’ fear of them."

The animals are commonly found during damp weather and visitors are encouraged to simply scrape them off with a fingernail and flick them away if they attach to skin or clothes. They are harmless, however, oozing and itchiness can occur at the bite site for several hours, according to the Australian Museum.

"Broadly speaking, the sculptures are a fun way to acknowledge that leeches are there and part of the damp rainforest environment and not something we necessarily have to be afraid of," the spokesperson continued.

Visitors can minimise contact with leeches by wearing socks, long pants and insect repellent — while the sculptures require none of these things.

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