No one quite knows why, but there’s a twist in the Australian psyche that has made countless Aussies dedicate their lives to the construction of Big Things. These aren’t big important things like skyscrapers, or big beautiful things like bridges or sculptures, they’re just everyday objects magnified to about 200 times their actual size.
Most Big Things began life as tourist traps to generate some interest and income in small towns dotted between major coastal cities. But over the years they’ve achieved cult status (usually with the sorts of people attracted to cults).
If you want to see them properly, it’s traditional to visit them as part of a long road trip (preferably stopping at several along the way), stand in front of them and take a photo (you’re allowed to look a little underwhelmed, in fact it’s better if you do), then print them out when you get home and stick the photos to the fridge. Huzzah, you are now an unofficial Australian.
1. The Big Banana – Coffs Harbour
Probably the most famous Big Thing in Australia, and often claimed to be the one that started the whole trend, the Big Banana is almost a mandatory stop on the way from Brisbane to Sydney. The complex includes a banana-themed souvenir shop (yes, really), an ice rink and the biggest inflatable waterslide in the world.
2. Big Bench – Broken Hill
One of the few Big Things you can interact with. This is a park bench built to 2.5 scale in Broken Hill, near the New South Wales/South Australia border. Sitting on it like a tiny pixie is sort of like a low-budget version of the crazy photos you get at Bolivia’s salt flats.
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3. The Big Prawn – Ballina
This prawn nearly met its maker when the local council voted to allow its demolition in 2009. Luckily for locals, and all pro-prawn people everywhere, a local hardware store bought the site and pledged to keep it as part of a redevelopment project.
4. Big Ayer’s Rock – North Arm Cove
This is just so Australian. Big Ayer’s Rock is probably the only Big Thing in the world that is actually smaller than its namesake – in this case a scale of 1/40. It was originally part of Leyland Brothers World in North Arm Cove and now sits above the Rock Restaurant.
5. Big Mango – Bowen
The Big Mango follows a common ‘big fruit’ theme that runs through Queensland and New South Wales. It was temporarily ‘stolen’ by a local Nando’s restaurant in 2014 as a publicity stunt, but we’re not sure if anyone noticed.
6. The Big Rig – Roma
Basically a big oil rig. Though this attraction loses some of its mystique when you realise oil rigs are already pretty big. It probably could have been called The Rig and no one would have kicked up much fuss. It was built to commemorate the discovery of oil in Roma.
7. The Big Cigar – Churchill
Built in honour of the town’s namesake who loved his Cuban cigars. This is legitimately quite a big cigar. There isn’t much more to say.
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8. The Big Penguin – Penguin
When your town is called Penguin and you need tourists, what else are you going to do? This little guy was built from fibro-cement in 1975 to mark the centenary of the settlement of Penguin. We think he looks proud.
9. The Big Coffee Pot – Deloraine
This one is sort of cheating, as the residents of Deloraine just added a spout and handle to a big grain silo. It does look like a coffee pot, but only if someone pointed this out to you beforehand.
10. The Big Pineapple – Woombye
Claiming to be the world’s biggest pineapple (after a slightly bigger one in Hawaii got dismantled in 1993), this one is 16-metres high and one of the biggest attractions on the Sunshine Coast.
Feature image c/o Anna Calvert, Flickr