The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, was Australia’s first “Big Thing”. Built in 1964 it still stands proudly on the highway in front of what was once a large banana plantation and which now doubles as a tourist attraction promoting oddly enough, bananas.
Australia has over 230 “Big Things” all across the country. They are generally on major roads, kitsch, and butt ugly. We have a Big Prawn, Big Lawnmower, Big Orange and Big Rocking Chair. Personally, I don’t get the attraction though many holidaymakers arrange their journeys around these tourist traps.
The first time I saw the Big Banana wasn’t until the early 1990’s with my own children. Knowing we were in for a long car trip and attempting to stop a war from breaking out in the back seat I kept both daughters bouyed with the wonder of the Big Banana. Can I tell you how appalled I was to arrive in sleepy little Coffs only to find the cover (or skin) of the banana away at the dry cleaners. Try explaining that to Little People.
I was reminded of this following my recent travels to Far North Queensland where everything seemed to be Big. The Big Cane Toad in Sarina, The Big Snake in Ayr, The Big Mango which looked like it had been hit by a truck in some little town along the way, and my favourite, The Big Opened Sardine Can at Home Hill. No explanation for that one, sorry.
I wasn’t even aware of these Big Things until I was an adult. As a child the only large object I had witnessed was The Big Potato at Robertson on the way down the South Coast and you would never have guessed that the huge brown lump sitting in a paddock was a spud.
According to one source, “Big Things have become something of a cult phenomenon and are sometimes used as an excuse for a road trip where many or all big things are visited and used as a backdrop to a group photograph. Many of the big things are considered works of folk art and have been heritage-listed, though others have come under threat of demolition.” Sayonara Captain Cook in Cairns.
I’m not a fan of Big Things though I think this is in part because I was traumatised as a teenager after having spotted an army truck full of young soldiers urinating on The Big Golden Guitar at Tamworth, Australia’s country music capital.
Not so traumatised that I wasn’t excited showing 18 month old Harry The Big Crab in Cardwell.
Does your part of the world suffer from Big Things too? Do you have a favourite?