If you’re a bit of a road trip aficionado, Australia is definitely the place to go. You’ll see so much of the country by driving across it – from coastal towns to tropical rainforest – you’ll pass both desert and rolling hills along the way. While driving around Australia, you’re bound to go past a bunch of “big” things, like the Big Pineapple, the Big Banana and the Big Trout.
There over 150 of these tacky over-sized tourist traps all over Oz – from the mundane to the downright wacky. There’s the big gumboot, the big wickets, the big stubbie and the big redback spider. The funny thing is that the trend of building these tacky big things began in the 1960s, but there was a resurgence in the 1980s and some were built as late as the mid-1990s! Some of them are markers for local businesses or industries, while others have created a whole entertainment complex to go along with that awesomely tacky photo. Read on for the best and kitschest of Australia’s big things…
1. The Big Merino, Goulburn
You can climb up inside the Big Merino – although it gets pretty hot in there! Downstairs is the souvenir shop where you can grab a pair of woolly boots, a soft toy for the kids or a postcard from this area of sheep country. This one is a personal favourite because when I was a kid my family would always stop by the Big Merino (sheep) driving from Sydney to Canberra.
2. The Big Banana, Coffs Harbour
The big banana is located in Coffs Harbour, a coastal town just before the NSW-Queensland border. It’s a good place to stop for a swim if you’re driving from Sydney to Queensland. If you have kids, the Big Banana has a whole complex of rides and attractions – including an ice rink – to keep them entertained. The Big Banana was built by the banana plantation owner, John Landy, in 1964 to attract passing traffic to his roadside banana stall.
3. The Big Prawn, Ballina
The big prawn (shrimp) is one of Australia’s best known big things and was just saved from the scrap heap last year. Located in Ballina near Australia’s most eastern point, it’s a beautiful area to drive through.
4. Big Mosquito, Hexham
The big mosquito is located in Hexham, a suburb of Newcastle, around two and a half hours drive north of Sydney. This blighter was let loose on the locals in 1994! It’s the icon for Hexham Bowling Club, where you can grab a great feast of Asian cuisine at the bistro and try to avoid getting bitten by mozzies outside.
5. Big Ned Kelly, Glenrowan
Ned Kelly was an Irish bushranger (or outlaw) who made his own armour. Kelly’s last stand was at Glenrowan, where he was captured and then hanged for his crimes in Melbourne jail in 1880. At Glenrowan there is a huge statue of Ned Kelly carrying a shotgun, with his helmut. Outlaw or folk hero? visit the Ned Kelly museum and decide for yourself.
6. The Big Meat Pie, Yatala
When you’re in Australia one thing you have to try is that true blue Aussie snack: the meat pie. Yatala is famous for its bakery and signposts it with a huge pie in the sky. Stop in for a meat pie or two on your way to Brisbane – or Stradbroke Island.
7. Big Boxing Croc, Humpty Doo
Now, whether or not a crocodile with red boxing gloves makes any sort of sense is one question. However, the fact is that Humpty Doo is located smack-bang deep in the middle of crocodile country in Australia’s Northern Territory, is definitely something to take note of. This means if you’re driving through this area, be very, very cautious about stopping at creeks and billabongs. If there isn’t warning signage, maybe it’s best just to wait to swim at the pool at your hotel.
8. The Big Lobster, Kingston
The big lobster is 17 metres high, 15.2 metres long, 13.7 metres wide, and weighs about 4 tonnes. The big lobster is located in the coastal town of Kingston, South Australia, between Melbourne and Adelaide. Grab a superb fresh seafood platter at the restaurant and have a swim at the beach before you continue on your journey.
9. The Big Pineapple
The big pineapple is located on Australia’s Sunshine Coast and was built in the 1970s. Today it’s more than a kitsch landmark, there are a bunch of activities for kids and adults alike. There’s also an animal farm and train ride for the kids. Everyone will enjoy the rainforest walk, or if you’re there on a Saturday, there’s a fine food, growers and art market to check out. Pssst if you’re a music lover, there’s also the Big Pineapple Music festival which takes place in April.
10. The Big Scotsman
So the Big Scotsman – or Scotty – was the original big thing, built-in 1963. The 5 metre tall, kilted, bag-pipe wielding fibre-glass figure stands sentry over Scotty’s Motel in Adelaide. It seems pretty arbitrary that this is where it all began. Scotty was designed and built by Paul Kelly, who was then commissioned to build the big lobster the following year, and then the craze took off around the country.