Australia’s ‘Big Things’ are a roadside symbol, an obsession that turned into a tradition and now a popular tourist attraction. These are sculptures of everyday items that have been recreated in gigantic dimensions and littered across the country. It has been estimated that there are over 150 such objects around the country. It started back in 1964 when a local banana grower John Landl decided that a visible gimmick would help him sell more fruit. So he built an 11 meter long, 5 meter high fibre glass banana, based on the precise measurements of the winner from the recent agricultural show.
The idea caught on, and now hundreds of these absurd monstrosities dot the highways across Australia. Most towns strive to create their own unique icon, usually things they are good at. The big things have become something of a cult phenomenon, and are sometimes used as an excuse for a road trip, where many or all Big Things are visited and used as a backdrop to a group photograph. Many of the big things are considered works of folk art and have been heritage-listed. Some of them have even earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
Here are some of the most popular big things in Australia.
The Big Banana
The Big Banana, one of the first big things, is a walkthrough banana in the city of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. Banana-related products are shown or sold, and the grounds of the building are a banana plantation, a souvenir shop and restaurant.
The Big Pineapple
The Big Pineapple is located on the Sunshine Coast in South East Queensland, Australia. It is 16 metre high and was originally opened on the 15 of August 1971. Inside the fruit are two rides: one on a Nut Mobile, the other on a small train that takes passengers on a tour of the plantation and lets them optionally disembark at a small zoo situated on the property.
The Big Golden Guitar
The Big Golden Guitar is located in Tamworth, New South Wales, in front of the famous Longyard Hotel on the Sydney Road. It was unveiled in 1988 by Australia’s most popular country music artist, Slim Dusty. The monument is one of the best-known points of interest in New South Wales and is also a major attraction during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
The Big Barramundi
The Big Barramundi Barbecue Gardens is a restaurant serving a range of traditional and exotic Australian cuisine ranging from crocodiles to kangaroos, seafood and, of course, barramundi. A giant fibreglass barramundi sculpture hangs at the Garden’s entrance and has become somewhat of an Australian icon paying homage to Queensland’s most popular fish. It is located in the Daintree village.
The Big Beer Can
The Big Beer Can is located above the entrance to the Grand Hotel in Cobar, New South Wales. It stands about five meters tall and is two-and-a-half meters across. Built in 1990, it entered the Guinness world record for the largest beer can anywhere in the world.
The Big Merino
The Big Merino is a 15-metre tall concrete merino ram, located in Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia. Nicknamed “Rambo” by locals, the Big Merino contains a gift shop on the ground floor and a wool display on the second floor. Visitors can climb to the top and look out through the Merino’s eyes to view the local area.
The Big Merino was officially opened on 20 September 1985. In 1992, the Hume Highway bypassed Goulburn, which resulted in a loss of 40 busloads of tourists to the Big Merino complex per day. On 26 May 2007, the Big Merino was moved to a location closer to the Hume Highway to increase visitor numbers, and is now located near the freeway interchange at a service station.
The Big Lobster
The Big Lobster is located in the town of Kingston SE, South Australia. Known locally as “Larry”, the sculpture of a spiny lobster made of steel and fibreglass stands 17 metres tall and weighs approximately 4 tonnes. It was intended to attract attention to the restaurant and visitor centre at which it is situated. It was opened in December 1979.
The Giant Koala
The Giant Koala is situated midway between the Victorian towns of Stawell and Horsham at a small town called Dadswells Bridge. The Giant Koala was erected in 1989. It’s 14 meters high and about 12 tonnes in weight, set on a steel frame and a paste of fibreglass and bronze was used to create the exterior. Inside is a restaurant and souvenir shop.
Big Boxing Crocodile
The Big Boxing Crocodile is located outside the United fuel station (formerly known as the Bush Shop) on the Arnhem Highway, in a town called Humpty Doo. This humorous attraction is a reference to the large crocodile population in the area.