Jonaas Zilinskas (Jonas Slovenski) was born into poverty in a large family (23 children!) in 1919, migrated to Australia from Lithuania after WWII. Jonas lived in Corindi in later life where he was something a local legend. He was a circus performer (tightrope, trapeze artist, strongman) and logger in Newfoundland State Forest (now Yuraygir National Park). He is believed to have invented the first swingsaw, and was known for a clothing-optional approach to forestry work.
To find the Keyman Statue that Jonas created in 1956 out of concrete, wood and beer bottles, hop on your adventure motorcycle or in your 4WD and follow our GPX turning off the Pacific Highway into McPhillips Rd, then Newfoundland and Yellow Cutting roads driving through the forest. It’s a short, fun exploration for all the family.
Park at the gate on Yellow Cutting Road, cross the bridge over the creek and then walk up the short path up the stairs to the Keyman Statue. A man stands atop a plinth dressed in keys. The base was constructed of truck axles driven into the ground, covered with chicken wire and cement. When we visited, the Keyman was holding a green beer bottle in his raised hand, something like the the Statue of Liberty holds her torch aloft. Nearby is a wire rope dangling from a tree, rumoured to be Jonaas’ tightrope.
Jonas entertained more than 4 million Australians as a strongman and trapeze artist before he retired from the circus in 1999. He returned to Lithuania in 2006 where he died in 2013. The Sydney Morning Herald published his obituary. An Australian postage stamp commemorates the circus performer with the Iron Jaw, who suspended his trapeze partner from his teeth.
Note: McPhillips Road has been closed since 2021 due to flood damage. Check NPWS, Clarence Valley and Forestry websites for latest information, perhaps it has been repaired. Otherwise use Barcoongere Rd.