I’m Big in Australia: The Concrete Giant Obsession Down Under
Australians, it seems, have a penchant for oversized things. From the Big Boxing Crocodile in Humpty Doo, Northern Territory (not to be confused with the plain old Big Crocodile in Wyndham, Western Australia, or, in fact, any of the other three Big Crocodiles), to the Big Penguin, in Penguin, Tasmania, oversized roadside statuary is all the rage. There are over 150 examples of these gargantuan creatures, and here is a look at some of the highlights of things that are big in Australia.
Big Ned Kelly, Maryborough (photograph by Stuart Edwards)
While New South Wales is the indisputable capital of “Big Things” in Australia, I wanted to start in Queensland, not only because I live here, but also because it’s a primary destination for both international and interstate visitors. Especially the state’s tropical north.
Cairns is a hotspot for backpackers, and is home to (or nearby to) eight Big Things, including two of the Big Crocodiles. In Cairns itself, there is the Big Captain Cook who looms 14 meters (46 feet) over the road leading to and from Cairns International Airport, as well as the Big Marlin, at Earlville Shopping Centre, which stands at 10 meters (38 feet) tall. In nearby Mission Beach stands the Big Cassowary, at four meters (13 feet) tall, and is apparently seen as a threat by the local cassowaries, which allegedly attack it at night.
Big Mango, Bowen (photograph by Amos T Fairchild)
At Hartley’s Creek, a crocodile farm and zoo, is an eight meter (26 feet) long Big Crocodile. Also in the Cairns region are the Big Mud Crab (four meters, 31 feet, across), at Cardwell; the Big Mango (10 meters, or 33 feet, high), in Bowen; another Big Crocodile (two meters, seven feet, long), at Daintree; and the Big Gum Boot (eight meters, or 26 feet, high) in Tully.
On the Sunshine Coast, near Brisbane, are the Big Pineapple which, at 16 meters (52 feet) tall is the world’s largest pineapple, apparently, and is not only the scene of more than a few of my childhood memories, but also of a royal visit, as Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited in 1983.
The Sunshine Coast also features the Big Macadamia Nut (also 16 meters/52 feet tall), the Big Ned Kelly (an Australian bushranger and folk hero, standing at seven meters, or 23 feet), the Big Orange, the Big Lawn Mower, and the Big Shell.
Big Captain Cook (photograph by Fosnez/Wikimedia)
Big Cassowary, Misison Beach (photograph by SimonTFL/Wikimedia)
Big Macadamia Nut, Nambor (photograph by Fishieman15/Wikimedia)
Big Pineapple, Nambour (photograph by berichard/Wikimedia)
New South Wales
Big Merino, Goulburn (photograph by Bidgee/Wikimedia)
New South Wales is home to 50 of Australia’s Big Things – a third of the national total. These Big Things range from the (by now) ubiquitous “Big Fruits,” to a Big Poo, from the border with Queensland to the southern tip of the state. There’s a Big Banana, and a Big Bunch of Bananas, both in Coffs Harbour, along with the Big Windmill. On the highway that runs southward down the coast, you can see a Big Bull Ant (designed by artist Pro Hart), a Big Avocado, Big Axe, a Big Ayers Rock (which isn’t as big as the real Uluru), a 15 meter (49 foot) tall Big Merino (by the name of Rambo), a Big Oyster, and a Big Prawn.
Big Prawn (via Wikimedia)
Other themes in “Big Things in New South Wales” include alcohol (the Big Wine Bottle at Pokolbin, the Big Beer Can in Cobar, and the now-painted-over Big Wine Cask in Mourquong), guitars (the world-famous-among-country-music-fans Big Golden Guitar at Tamworth, and the World’s Largest Playable Guitar, in Narrandera) and fish (two Big Trouts and a Big Murray Cod).
The best would be the Big Poo, constructed in 2002 in the town of Kiama, in protest of Sydney Water’s plan to recycle waste-water in the region, although a special mention must go to the World’s Biggest Sundial, in Singleton, which is no longer the world’s biggest.
Big Ayers Rock, North Arm Cove (photograph by Stuart Edwards)
Big Axe, Kew (photograph by Stuart Edwards)
Big Oyster, Taree (photograph by Stuart Edwards)
Singleton Sundial (photograph by Bandworthy/Wikimedia)
Big Murray Cod, Swan Hill (photograph by Whinging Pom/Wikimedia)
Big Trout, Adaminaby (photograph by Robert Merkel)
Big Wine Cask, Mourquong (photograph by Mattinbgn/Wikimedia)
The Australian Capital Territory
Giant Mushroom, Belconnen (photograph by Stuart Edwards)
The Australian Capital Territory, which is located halfway between Sydney, New South Wales, and Melbourne, has only one Big Thing — the Giant Mushroom, which stands at eight meters (26 feet) tall. And it was built in 1998. Most Big Things, on the contrary, were built in the more aesthetically excusable 1970s and 80s.
Giant Koala, Dadswells Bridge (photograph by Mattinbgn/Wikimedia)
Continuing south down the eastern seaboard into Victoria, we come across 29 more Big Things, including Fish Creek’s the Big Dead Fish, and two Big Koalas — one in Cowes, one in Dadswells Bridge. Cowes has the Big Tap (faucet) as well as the smaller Big Koala.
There are two Big Tobacco Products, one in the town of Churchill, after the cigars Winston Churchill smoked, and the other in Myrtleford, which is no longer painted as the Big Smoke. A special mention must go to one of the two Big Apples in Victoria (there are eight Big Apples in Australia), which Wikipedia sadly lists as having been “removed from display at the road side when the adjacent fruit shop closed down. It now sits behind a fence next to a dumpster.”
Big Tap, Cowes (photograph by Bilby/Wikimedia)
Big Apple (photograph by Stuart Edwards)
Big Koala, Cowes (photograph by Bilby/Wikimedia)
Big Dead Fish, Fish Creek (photograph by Bilby/Wikimedia)
Big Penguin at Penguin (photograph by Stuart Edwards)
Tasmania, or Tassie, as it is known among Australians and fans of Amanda Palmer, is an island-state, and has only ten Big Things. Only the Australian Capital Territory has less, with one.
Of the ten Tasmanian Big Things, perhaps the most famous is Penguin’s Big Penguin, which stands at a paltry three meters (10 feet) tall. The town itself is named for the rookeries of penguins common on its coast. In Latrobe, Tasmania’s home of Big Things, are the Big Cherry and the Big Platypus. Hobart, the state’s capital, has the Big Slide Rule, at the University of Tasmania’s School of Mathematics and Physics.
Big Platypus, Latrobe (photograph by Stuart Edwards)
Big Crocodile, Wyndham (photograph by Christopher Rosser)
Western Australia is home to the Principality of Hutt River, an independent micro-nation (which features an almost-Big Thing, a bust of Prince Leonard) and of one of the Big Crocodiles (a whopper, in Wyndham, in the state’s north, at 18 meters, 59 feet, long).
Western Australia also has the Big Magic Mushroom, at Balingup, where, to again quote trusty Wikipedia, “are found mushroom varieties of interest to both drug users and law enforcement agencies.” In Kalamunda, Perth, is Big Bobtail, a nine meter long blue-tongued lizard made of rammed earth and named after a lizard that once lived locally, and the World’s Tallest Bin — an eight meter tall bin that can be found on Hannan Street in Kalgoorlie. Denmark, a town in the far south of the state, has probably the world’s most useful Big Thing — the Bert Bolle Barometer, a working barometer 12 and a half meters tall.
The Northern Territory has four Big Things, and has the second smallest population of an Australian state or territory. Of those four Big Things, it probably has one of Australia’s most impressive, not for its size, but for its style: the Big Boxing Crocodile, in Humpty Doo, which stands eight metres high.
Big Boxing Crocodile, Humpty Doo (photograph by Stuart Edwards)
The Northern Territory also has the Big Stockwhip in Acacia, which is seven meters tall and ten meters long, the Big Stubbie (Australian slang for a bottle of beer), and the Big Aboriginal Hunter at the Anmatjere Community, a small community 150 kilometers north of Alice Springs.
While Australia might not have a huge number of the world’s largest or tallest sites, it could compete anywhere for Big Things. And if you do manage to come down on vacation, or if you’re an Australian who hasn’t seen many of these Big Things, do yourself and the local communities a favor and have a sticky beak (Australian slang for have a look). They’ll thank you for it, and you’ll definitely see something unexpected.
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