Australia's Peculiar Big Things
Australia's Peculiar Big Things
Iconic and downright unusual, Big Things draw up images of the vibrancy and otherworldliness of the great Australian road trip. After hours of driving through calm nothingness, the approach of a giant mango or potato comes as a welcome distraction for eyes used to bare land and peppers the roadside with the quirk that makes Australia such a curious country to travel in. The 150-ish Big Things, designed to tempt road trippers to spend their holiday dosh in towns that might otherwise be overlooked, have accrued cult status and travellers will often drive miles out of their way just have their picture taken next to a giant gumboot. Here are eight of the best and most fascinating - embrace them.
Big Merino – Goulbourn, New South Wales
Named Rambo (of course), Goulbourn’s Big Merino has perhaps the most Hollywood story of all Big Things. Proudly sitting by the roadside, as all worthy Big Things do, in 1992 Rambo was left neglected as the opening of the Hume Highway took traffic out of the centre of Goulbourn. After 15 long years, in 2007 an enterprising local businessperson saw the injustice in Rambo being bypassed and arranged to have the structure moved to the side of the of the Hume Highway, so road trippers could appreciate the enormous woolly monument in the way that only road trippers can. As if there was any doubt, Rambo is officially the world’s largest concrete sheep. There’s even a viewing gallery which allows you to look out of Rambo's eyes, and what more could you want from a road trip than the chance to stand inside the face of a sheep.
Big Pineapple – Nambour, Queensland
This 16-metre pineapple has watched over the adjacent pineapple plantation since it was erected in 1971. With its trippy inner colour scheme, visitors can climb winding stairs to reach a viewing area at the top, or alternatively can enjoy some of the ground level attractions that the Big Pineapple lays on around the complex, from small animal zoo to rainforest walk. If you visit, don’t leave without trying a sundae in the on-site cafe. Seriously.
Big Lobster – Kingston, South Australia
The Big Lobster is a nod – a 4-tonne nod – to South Australian lobster fishing. Legend has it that the plans were misread, with the builder accidentally creating a structure in metres rather than feet which makes the Big Lobster three times larger than initially designed. Whether this is true or waffle, the story adds to the mystique which makes the Big Lobster one of the major five Big Things – along with the Pineapple, Banana, Merino and Golden Guitar, the Lobster was featured in a collectable stamp series issued by Australia Post in 2007. The Big Lobster has a seafood restaurant on-site, and where better to sample lobster than at a place that plonks an enormous statue of its menu outside.
Big Banana – Coffs Harbour, New South Wales
The Big Banana is legendary for being an inevitable photo moment on any east coast road trip. Just outside Coffs Harbour, the draw of standing beside a banana that resembles a bent longboat cleverly slows drivers down so that they don’t stick rigidly to progressing along the Pacific Highway and bypass the town altogether. Believe it or not, the attraction boasts a bunch of different activities to keep you going, from a tobogganing circuit to an ice skating rink and a water park containing the tallest inflatable water slide in Australia. Now you know.
Big Golden Guitar – Tamworth, New South Wales
Nestled deep in inland New South Wales, the Big Golden Guitar is a nod to Tamworth’s musical heritage which sees it host the annual Country Music Festival across ten days in January – the second largest country music festival in the world. In the visitor centre next to the guitar there’s a museum which tips slightly towards the peculiar end of the spectrum, housing a wax museum dedicated to country music stars. If ever you’re desperate to photograph yourself next to a likeness of Slim Dusty, you now know where to go. Thank us later.
Big Ned Kelly – Glenrowan, Victoria
Australia’s infamous bushranger is the subject of a 6-metre high statue which looms authoritatively over the township of Glenrowan, Victoria. Funded by the proprietors of a souvenir shop, the statue was supposedly paid for at the expense of a new family kitchen. On the 11-hour trip from a workshop in Sydney Big Ned caused quite a spectacle with his rifle pointing in the air, no doubt leading many to question if they’d had something slipped into their drink as a giant Ned Kelly passed them on the back of a truck. Big Ned’s sheer size makes it one of the more iconic Big Things.
Big Uluru – Karuah, New South Wales
The Big Uluru is notable for its faux status as a Big Thing, given that the model is considerably smaller than Uluru itself. There is a lesson to be learnt there – size matters, and Big Things work best when they inflate things that are otherwise underwhelming in stature. Small Things just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Pernickety measurement analysis aside, there’s a charming novelty to Big Uluru in that it’s lumped on top of a roadside store in such a way that it looks very much like an afterthought. All the best Big Things look ungainly and out of whack with their surroundings.
Big Boxing Crocodile – Humpty Doo, Northern Territory
One of the more abstract Big Things, and perhaps the most intimidating of the lot, the Big Boxing Crocodile stands proudly and aggressively in the brilliantly named town of Humpty Doo, in reference to the town’s large population of crocs. In a town billed to be the hometown of Outback Jack, Australia’s only wrestler to have made it on the professional circuit in the United States, it seems appropriate that the town possesses a monolithic structure of a brawling beast. Only 40-kilometres from Darwin, it would be a shame to visit the Northern Territory without having fisticuffs with an enormous gloved crocodile. And that’s probably the most ridiculous sentence I’ve ever written.
Travellers will drive miles out of their way just have their picture taken next to a giant gumboot
By Themes (All Destinations)
- Central America
- Middle East
- North America
- South America
"I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them" - Twain