It wouldn’t be an Australian road trip without a sighting of a big thing and we’ve put together a guide of Australia’s most iconic big things.
“Go big or go home”, so the expression goes, and Australia certainly received the memo. Australia’s penchant for ‘Big Things’ dates back to the 1960s when Adelaide’s Big Scotsman and the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour were unveiled to oversized delight. Today there is said to be more than 150 Big Things across the country, with some sources reporting in excess of 300, although the figure depends strongly on one’s definition of ‘big’. (There are some bona fide medium-sized items on the complete list, but that’s just one woman’s opinion.) Here, we highlight some of the most iconic larger-than-life attractions in Australia.
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Opened in 1964, the Big Banana was one of the first, and remains one of the most popular, Big Things in Australia. A ‘you-can’t-miss-it’ position on the Pacific Highway in Coffs Harbour has aided the ‘nana’s fame, but it is more than just an oversized piece of fruit for road-trippers to gawk at.
Although it originally had the simple role of marking the site of a banana plantation, the space has evolved over the years and the 13-metre-long landmark is now accompanied by an award-winning fun park with laser tag, a giant slide, mini golf, ice skating, a toboggan ride and a water park among other attractions.
If it’s good enough for the Royal Family, it’s good enough for us. The Sunshine Coast’s Big Pineapple, located in Woombye, was once so iconic, it made the cut as part of Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s 1983 Royal tour.
Opened in 1971 on an existing pineapple plantation, the 16-metre pineapple attracted more than a million visitors a year at the peak of its popularity, and plans to return the heritage-listed landmark to its former glory are in progress.
The 170-hectare site is the focus of an ambitious master plan, which includes attractions and services such as a craft brewery, water park, education programs and accommodation. There is already a zoo, a high ropes and zipline course, and regular events including the annual Big Pineapple Music Festival.
The Big Lobster
Fresh, meaty and oh-so-tasty, the lobster on South Australia’s Limestone Coast is well worth the journey, which is presumably why a 17-metre-tall version of the spindly crustacean was built in Kingston SE in 1979.
Known as Larry the Lobster (of course!), the giant steel-and-fibreglass structure was, in fact, a giant effort to attract people to the adjacent restaurant and visitor centre. It is one of the biggest of Australia’s Big Things, although its size was reportedly an error with the designer misinterpreting feet for metres.
In 2016, Larry was the subject of the ‘Pinch A Mate To Donate’ fundraising campaign, led by Hamish Blake and Andy Lee, but the proposed refurb went begging when the comedy duo lost the pot while trying to increase it with an on-the-nose bet on a ‘sure thing’. Larry was eventually gifted $50,000 worth of repairs in 2017.
Built in 1985, Goulburn’s Big Merino is a monument to the region’s fine wool industry. He is also a particularly big boy, weighing in at 100 tonnes and measuring 15.2 metres high and 18 metres long. Once a go-to pit-stop for those travelling through Goulburn, the Big Merino’s popularity suffered when the Hume Highway was re-routed to bypass the town in 1992.
In 2007, ‘Rambo’ was relocated 800 metres closer to the highway so he could once again enjoy the spotlight. Unlike most of Australia’s Big Things, Rambo is open for inspection. His three-storey interior is home to a permanent exhibition on the 200-year history of wool in Australia as well as a gift shop, and an observation area where visitors can experience the Rambo’s-eye view.
The Big Prawn
Hardware, sausage sizzles, saving an iconic crustacean from extinction – is there anything Bunnings can’t do? Ballina’s 33-tonne Big Prawn was constructed (tail-less for reasons unknown) in 1989 as a nod to the local prawning industry and took up residence atop a local service station.
The dilapidated structure faced demolition when the service station closed in 2010, but another Aussie icon, Bunnings Warehouse, became an unsuspecting Knight in Deep Cyan Amour. When the hardware group moved in, it spent $400,000 restoring the prawn, which included the addition of a 16-metre tail. The Big Prawn now cuts a striking figure next to its saviour.
They may not be as famous as the above-mentioned stars, but there are some inclusions in Australia’s Big Things portfolio that simply cannot be ignored.
Nyngan’s Big Bogan is the first to spring to mind. Complete with a mullet, stubbies and a Southern Cross tattoo, the five-metre-tall ‘maaaaaate’ was unveiled in 2015. Nyngan, it is important to mention, is in the Bogan Shire.
Still in NSW, a shout-out to Robertson’s Big Potato, which just, really, errrr, looks like a, uuuum…well, it looks weird, okay? But it’s 10 metres by four metres, so it counts.
The Big Dugong in Rockhampton also makes the cut because dugongs are quite possibly the most fanatically strange-looking animals in the Kingdom. And what could be better than a 22-by-12-metre version? The mammoth mammal is located at the Rockhampton Dreamtime Cultural Centre.