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6 August, 2021

The story behind the highway scarecrows

FOR nearly two decades Warren Burton has been putting smiles on the faces of strangers and locals from across the country with his funny and wacky scarecrows outside his Kennedy Highway property on the outskirts of Mareeba.

By Rhys Thomas

Warren Burton has been putting smiles on the faces of locals and travellers for nearly 20 years with his scarecrows – Jake, Lucy and family.

FOR nearly two decades Warren Burton has been putting smiles on the faces of strangers and locals from across the country with his funny and wacky scarecrows outside his Kennedy Highway property on the outskirts of Mareeba. 

People may not know the name Warren Burton, but they certainly recognise his family of scarecrows parked outside his property, often changing with the weather and commenting on important events in the community or wider world. 

The family of scarecrows would often relay important, uplifting and warm messages to the many motorists and visitors along the highway.

Before moving to the famous Kennedy Highway property Warren and his wife Nyree had a cattle property near Butchers Creek, the place where it all started, where Jake, his first scarecrow was born. 

“I was coming home from work one day and on the verandah there was this man leaning on the door so I parked in the shed, and I wouldn’t get out of my car,” Nyree said. 

“I rang Warren and he said ‘oh that’s my friend Jake’ but I still wasn’t moving. 

“Then he came and told me it was his scarecrow so that was his very first one.” 

After choosing Mareeba and its climate for Warren’s health, Warren decided that Jake looked quite lonely, hence Jake’s family was born, his wife, children and even some cousins.

“It all started from Warren just wanting to put a smile on someone’s face and brighten their day,” Nyree said. 

“We never expected that they would grow so popular and have such a profound impact. 

“We even had a float in the downtown parade every year.” 


The scarecrows often got involved with community events including the Cardiac Challenge.


When Jake and his family were abducted, truckies from up and down the coast were searching frantically from the cape to Brisbane for the scarecrow family. 

Now Warren has said goodbye to his Kennedy Highway property in favour for a small cattle property on Tinaroo Creek Road. 

“We’ve 'downsized' from five acres to 145 acres but we’ve gone from busy plant stall to cows which don’t require as much work I’m hoping,” Nyree said.

“Cattle was his first love and the only time he never had cattle was when we were living on the highway. 

“He’s always had them and animals are good for people, good therapy.” 

Jake and his family have potential plans to visit the upcoming Tolga Scarecrow Festival if they can make time in their busy schedules.

Warren with some of his cattle on his new property on Tinaroo Creek Road Mareeba.

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