Australia is bursting with natural beauty, but some of our oversized man-made tourist attractions deserve a rather, er, large round of applause too.
Beginning in the 1960s with the Big Banana, building oversized structures as a tourist magnet to showcase our agricultural or artistic prowess is a much-loved Aussie tradition. Impressive? Mostly. Corny? For sure.
Here we list the ‘classic’ big things across Australia that were major draw cards in their heyday, and a few underrated and quirky ones you just might want to add to your next road trip.
These attractions are those that you automatically associate with Australia’s big history.
It was established as a quirky structure in 1964 by banana farmer John Landi to draw a crowd to a roadside stall, which makes the Big Banana Australia’s first big attraction. Around 2000 visitors per day walking through the huge piece of fruit when it opened, soon inspiring the creation of an on-site milk bar and souvenir store. The modern Big Banana Fun Park offers Think Laser Tag, a Water Park, a 4D ride simulator and a giant slide.
Entry cost: Free to enter, attractions incur a fee (packages available)
Address: 351 Pacific Highway, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450
Contact: Ph: (02) 6652 4355, web: www.bigbanana.com
Nearby campgrounds: BIG4 Park Beach Holiday Park, 1 Ocean Parade, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450. Ph: 1800 200 555, web: www.big4.com.au
Woolgoolga Beach Holiday Park, 12 Wharf St, Woolgoolga NSW. Ph: (02) 6648 4711, www.coffscoastholidayparks.com.au/parks/woolgoolga-beach/
Built in 1971 by pineapple farmers Bill and Lin Taylor on the Sunshine Coast, the 16m-tall fibreglass pineapple attracted 700,000 visitors annually in its 1980s heyday. A small train took visitors through the plantation and in 1978 the ‘Nutmobile’ tour was launched — complete with macadamia nut-shaped carriages. Prince Charles and Lady Diana stopped in for a visit while on an Australian tour in 1983. Since 2013 the owners have hosted the Big Pineapple Music Festival. There is still a train ride but also a zoo and a treetops walk.
Entry cost: Free but costs apply to the train ride, zoo and music festival
Address: 76 Nambour Connection Rd, Woombye, Qld, 4559
Contact: Ph: (07) 5442 3102, web: www.bigpineapple.com.au
Nearby campgrounds: Rainforest Holiday Village, 557 Nambour Connection Road, Woombye, Qld. Ph: (07) 5442 1153, web: www.rainforestholidayvillage.com.au
Marshall Ski Lakes Campground, 1 Leafy Lane, Sunshine Coast, Qld. Ph: 0408 711 469
The Big Merino has a name: Rambo. Inspired by a real-life stud ram of the same name from a nearby property, Rambo stands 15m tall, is 18m long and weighed 97 tonnes when constructed in 1985 from a steel frame and concrete. Designed to showcase the region’s reputation for fine wool production, Rambo was a fixture of the town’s main street, but when the Hume Highway was built and tourist numbers slid, Rambo was relocated 800m down the road closer to the highway exit.
Entry cost: None, but a store is next door if you need new ugg boots
Address: Corner of Hume and Sowerby streets, Goulburn NSW
Contact: Phone: (02) 4822 8013; www.bigmerino.com.au
Nearby campgrounds: Goulburn South Caravan Park, 149 Hume St, Goulburn, NSW 2580. Ph: (02) 4821 3233, web: https://topparks.com.au/
Affectionately known as Larry, the 17m-tall spiny big lobster stands in all its shiny orange glory in the fishing town of Kingston Southeast on South Australia’s Limestone Coast. Made of steel and fibreglass, Larry took six months to construct and served as the face of the town ever since, heralding visitors to a restaurant behind its tail. Radio presenters Hamish Blake and Andy Lee spearheaded the #PinchAMate crowdfunding campaign to give Larry a dazzling makeover, and you can grab a bite at the new cafe called Janet’s Takeaway.
Entry cost: Free
Address: Princes Hwy, Kingston SE, SA 5275
Contact: Ph: (08) 8767 2019
Nearby campgrounds: Kingston Foreshore Caravan Park, 34a Marine Parade, Kingston SE SA 5275. Ph: (08) 8767 2050, http://kingstonforeshorecaravanpark.com.au/
UNDERRATED AND UNAPPRECIATED
You may not have heard of these big things, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth a stop on your way past to take a snap and stretch the legs.
Lazy marsupial or slightly-ticked off drop bear — you be the judge at the Big Koala on the Western Highway between Stawell and Horsham in Victoria’s Grampians region. The 6m-tall koala has a steel skeleton and the body is made from cold cast bronze and a mixture of fibreglass and plaster. Check out the gift shop, snack bar and tavern all within the belly of the beast, so to speak.
Entry cost: Free
Address: 5829 Western Highway Dadswell's Bridge, Vic
Contact: Ph: (03) 53595230, web: www.thegiantkoala.com.au
Nearby campgrounds: Grampians Edge Caravan Park, 20 Krause Rd, Western Highway, Dadswells Bridge, Vic, 3385. Ph: (03) 5359 5241, www.grampiansedgecaravanpark.com.au
About 135km north of Alice Springs on the iconic Stuart Highway sits the Aileron Roadhouse and Caravan Park, home to two very impressive statues celebrating Indigenous heritage.
Anmatjere Man arrived first in 2015, a 17m-tall Aboriginal hunter inspired by the local Anmatjere community. A second 17m statue, Anmatjere Woman and Child, was added a few years later. Both are built by local artist Mark Egan. It’s a 30-minute walk up and around both statues before or after lunch at the Roadhouse and a wander through the art gallery.
Entry cost: Free
Address: Stuart Highway, 135km north of Alice Springs
Contact: Ph: (08) 8956 9703
Nearby campgrounds: Aileron Hotel & Roadhouse on site offers powered sites, pool, barbecue areas, fuel and a bar.
WHAT THE QUIRK?
Some of Australia’s more random big things have a rather, er, eclectic flavour. There were so many to choose from — a big Van Gogh easel at Emerald, Qld; the Big Beer Can outside the Kulgera Pub, NT; and the Big Captain Cook in Cairns, Qld upon which some lark wrote ‘Made in China’. But here are two crackers.
The Big Bogan, Bogan Shire, NSW
Despite rumours that the steel statue of the Big Bogan is modelled on a particular resident of the Bogan Shire in NSW, we’re told it’s more reflective of our national bogan identity. Controversial and divisive in a community where some embrace the ocker connotation of their region’s namesake and those who just think the statue of a bloke in thongs holding a fishing rod and packing an esky is embarrassing, nevertheless the statue has increased tourism in the town of Nyngan since its erection in 2015.
Entry cost: Free
Address: Teamsters Rest Parking Area
Nearby campgrounds: Nyngan Riverside Tourist Park, Barrier Hwy and Mitchell Hwy, Nyngan NSW 2825. Ph: (02) 6832 1729, web: www.nynganriverside.com.au/tourist-park
World's Tallest Bin, Kalgoorlie, WA
In 1980 Kalgoorlie entered the state-wide Tidy Towns competition. In an effort to encourage townsfolk to stop littering, the Keep Kalgoorlie Clean Committee decided to repurpose an 8m water pipe into the World’s Tallest Bin. Just down the street is another little known ‘big’ attraction — a 59m-long Indigenous mural called Karkurla Dreaming. Created by local artist Jason Dimer, a Wongutha, Ngadju and Mirning man, it is hailed as the longest dot painting in the world.
Entry cost: Free
Address: Hannan St, Kalgoorlie
Nearby campgrounds: Kalgoorlie Goldfields Discovery Park, 286 Burt St, Boulder, WA 6432.
Ph: (08) 9039 4800, web: www.discoveryholidayparks.com.au. Kalgoorlie Caravan Park, 8 Great Eastern Hwy, Somerville, WA 6430. Ph: (08) 9021 4855.