When I say big things in Australia, I’m not talking about the Opera House, Kylie Minogue or barbies on the beach! I am talking about the weirdly wonderful collection of “big things” all around the country. A big thing is something architectural or sculptural - usually an everyday or commonplace object always represented on a massive scale. Just like the stops and roadside attractions along Route 66, the Big Things in Australia are iconic tourist traps and great fun. There are more than 150 Big Things in Australia and here are some of my favorites:
One of the most famous of the Big Things in Australia is The Big Lobster. His name is Larry and he is so big that you’ll either go ‘ooh!’ or ‘eek!’ Larry stands 17 m tall. He measures 15.2 m from head to tail and is 13.7 m wide. Home to this giant crustacean is Kingston, about 300 km south-east of Adelaide on the way to Melbourne if you take the coastal route.
One of the first of the Australian Big Things was constructed in 1964 at Coffs Harbour, almost halfway between Sydney and Brisbane. With a length of 15 m, The Big Banana is still the biggest banana in the world, and is one of the most popular attractions on this stretch of coastline.
Queensland is where most of Australia’s tropical fruit are grown and Nambour on the Sunshine Coast is pineapple country. The town is also home to a veteran Big Thing, The Big Pineapple, which has been around since 1971. With a height of 16 m, it just misses out on being the world’s biggest pineapple but it’s impressive nonetheless. Be sure to go in: After all, how often can you say that you’ve been inside a tropical fruit?
Most of Australia’s Big Things are impressive but also just a little kitsch. The Big Easel in a field at Emerald, a little under 900 km drive from Brisbane, is different, though. It will make you go ‘ooh!’ because it’s so beautiful. The easel is 25 m high and the painting that rests on this structure measures 7 × 10 m. The troubled Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh created a series of seven different paintings of sunflowers and the giant canvas on the Big Easel is a replica of one of these.
Australia is famous for its sheep and there are two Big Things on either side of the country that are sure to remind you of this. The Giant Ram is named Bart and graces a wetlands park in Wagin, a little under 240 km south-east of Perth in Western Australia. He is 9 m tall. If you find yourself in the eastern parts of Australia, though, you’ll find Bart’s bigger cousin, Rambo The Big Merino, in Goulburn, about 90 km from Canberra. Rambo has a height of 15 m.
Few countries celebrate their unique wildlife quite like Australia does. Among the Big Things of Australia are huge versions of the koala, Tasmanian devil, kookaburra, cassowary, brolga, galah, Murray cod and barramundi. Naturally there is also a Big Thing dedicated to the one animal that every one associates with the country. The Big Kangaroo is named Rooey II and stands 5 m in his kangaroo feet. You will find him in Border Village, a one-gas-station town on the border between Western Australia and South Australia. Since Border Village is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, the sight of Rooey II holding a can of soft drink is a welcome sight after a long, long drive either from Perth or Adelaide. His predecessor, Rooey I, used to take it a step further by holding a can of beer.
The Gippsland region south-east of Melbourne is the natural habitat of a real-life giant that will make you shudder. The Gippsland giant earthworm reaches an average length of 1 m. At Bass near Melbourne you can learn more about these creepy creatures and see some real live ones in a museum known as The Giant Earthworm. This interesting piece of architecture is shaped like an earthworm so big that you’ll surely be very relieved that it can’t move.
Down Under the way to deal with the heat of the Outback is to quench your thirst with one of the local lagers. In fact, it’s probably not coincidence that ‘brews’ sounds just like ‘Bruce,’ the quintessential name for Aussie males. If you drive from Sydney westwards for 690 km, you’ll find yourself in Cobar, right there in the Outback. Cobar’s way to remind you that you need to stay hydrated is with the Big Beer Can.
Barellan, about 520 km from Sydney, is home to the Big Tennis Racquet. You may think that with all the objects turned into Big Things in Australia a tennis racquet can’t be that special, but this one isn’t modeled on any old racquet. It’s actually a monument to one of the most inspiring Australians who ever lived. Evonne Goolagong grew up in Barellan and it was here that a local benefactor taught the young girl from the town’s Aboriginal community how to play tennis. The girl went on to dominate the women’s singles rankings in the Seventies and to become the only Aboriginal woman ever to win the Wimbledon title, one of seven Grand Slams that she has under her belt. The Big Tennis Racquet is a replica of one of the racquets that Barellan’s most famous daughter used during her career.
I think the Big Things of Australia would make a fantastic road trip vacation, although you’d need way more than a week or two to get round them all! From goats to guitars, and deck chairs to dinosaurs, nothing escapes becoming one of Australia’s Big Things. Have you seen any?
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