Town rallies to save 'iconic' Aussie tourist attraction after neighbours complain

Bundaberg Regional Council Mayor Jack Dempsey has now vowed the 'iconic' row of country artwork 'is here to stay'.

Residents of a tight-knit Australian town have rallied together to save a popular and unique tourist attraction after the local council threatened to remove it when neighbours reportedly complained about the unusual installations.

You've almost certainly heard of the Big Banana, Tamworth's Big Golden Guitar or even the Big Merino in NSW, but you might not have heard of this.

Jim Sauer’s Row of Machinery just outside of Bundaberg, Queensland, has attracted visitors from all over the country and the world since he, aged in his mid-80s, started hoisting cars, trucks and even a plane on old power polls almost four years ago.

Jim Sauer standing next to his Row of Machinery tourist attraction on his rural property outside of Bundaberg.
Locals created a petition after the council ordered Jim Sauer to remove the Row of Machinery tourist attraction just outside of Bundaberg, Queensland. Source: The ABC

Starting with an old Daihatsu ute, there are now at least 15 pieces of machinery lining one side of his rural South Kolan property, bringing a smile to the faces of those who drive by.

Council orders Row of Machinery to be removed

However residents say the Bundaberg Regional Council recently told Jim the exhibition needs to be removed by June, citing complaints from neighbours. Outraged by the decision, a petition was soon launched to save the beloved and quirky attraction.

“Locals and non-locals alike love driving along the road and looking at these machinery that are mounted with many posting pics and videos of them,” Whitney Woodfield wrote in the petition. “It’s even featured as a tourist attraction on the site!”

Mayor announces tourist attraction will stay

Following the backlash, Bundaberg Regional Council Mayor Jack Dempsey announced on his Facebook on Sunday that the “South Kolan machine art is here to stay”. Mayor Dempsey said he had met with Jim over the weekend to “sort out the issues regarding his iconic machine art” and that they would work together to make sure the installation “meets state standards”.

Mayor Jack Dempsey (left) with the owner Jim Sauer pictured in screenshot from Facebook video.
Mayor Jack Dempsey (left) with the owner Jim Sauer, in a video Sunday announcing the installations can remain. Source: Facebook

“And that seems to be the problem at the moment, to be able to make that ready to meet the state regulations,” he added, to which Jim responded that he “hopes it all goes well” and “thanks for the help”. Mayor Dempsey told Yahoo News on Monday the crux of the issue is a number of compliance issues on the property that need to be brought up to date.

“There’s state compliance with structures over a certain height or as far as safety,” he said. “The poles are iconic, people get a lot of happiness out of the art and obviously with Jim, we’re gonna fix that together.”

Mayor Dempsey said the deadline has been extended to the end of the year. “He’s got other machinery there we’ll make it safe and comply with the state and get it ready so we can actually increase the site for more opportunities and other, different vehicles.”

A light aircraft on an old power pole at the Row of Machinery.
Bundaberg Regional Council Mayor Jack Dempsey told Yahoo the council will work with Jim Sauer to bring the Row of Machinery up to state standards. Source:

Locals praise council's move

Many locals praised the decision to keep the Row of Machinery, deeming it a “fantastic result”. “It’s on his own private property…council needs to encourage local business and promote local attractions,” one man commented online.

Speaking to the ABC late last year, Jim said he never expected his fun project to gain so much attention, but visitors began showing up after it was added as an “attraction” on Google Maps.

“All sorts have come from all over Australia and New Zealand. I’ve even had a young couple from Russia and the Netherlands,” he said. “They signed my book and tell me where they all come from... it just makes my day to read the book — it’s really inspiring actually.”

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