An Aussie defends Big Things.
September 8, 2002 7:19 PM   Subscribe

An Aussie defends Big Things. I love the idea of the Big Things. It all started in 1963 with an American immigrant so in love with his own banana plantation that he wanted everyone driving through to stop in and see it. So he built a gigantic banana. Soon there were lots of other imitators, like the Big Pineapple in Nambour, the Big Prawn at Ballina, and the Big Bull at Wauchope. (Bill Bryson writes in Down Under that the Big Bull has testicles that actually sway in the breeze.) There are now more than 80 Big Things dotted all over the country. Some people think they're tacky. Personally, I want to visit 'em all.
posted by web-goddess (27 comments total)
The posts today all seemed rather "heavy", so I figured I'd put something silly out there. And there's nothing sillier than a giant bowl of fruit.
posted by web-goddess at 7:23 PM on September 8, 2002

Of course, we have plenty of these in the states. I love the otter, just for his warning sign: "Stay off the otter. Not responsible for accidents." Wisdom to live by.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:28 PM on September 8, 2002

"Coffs Harbour’s and indeed Australia’s most famous icon would have to be THE BIG BANANA."

I thought it was the Sydney Opera House...
posted by CrayDrygu at 7:34 PM on September 8, 2002

The Big Koala has to win the prize for officially being the ugliest of these attractions. I almost ran my car off the road when I caught a glimpse of it on the way to Melbourne once. Also, the big lobster at Kingston S.E. is looking a bit rickety and faded with old age, nowhere near as glossy and red as in the photo linked to here. I guess people don't take as much pride in their Big Things as once they did...
posted by Jimbob at 7:36 PM on September 8, 2002

There's a great site devoted to "Muffler Men", the giant fiberglass men with outstretched arms that dot the US. They were mass-produced in the 60's and 70's.
posted by web-goddess at 7:38 PM on September 8, 2002

Thanks for this, web-goddess. When I traveled through Spain, I remember their big black bulls - though they are just billboards. There was a classic scene involving one of these bulls' testicles in the move Jamon, Jamon.
posted by vacapinta at 7:55 PM on September 8, 2002

I once went to visit a huge lobster in the Florida Keys (no link, sorry, I doubt the place had a website, it seemed to be an average tourist trap and nothing more unique than that). That was was very detailed, for one thing ^_^ I remember thinking it would've needed a helluva lotta butter...
posted by cyrusdogstar at 7:59 PM on September 8, 2002

The relatively puny country of Australia (actually, it's much closer in size to the United States than I would have thought) has much to learn about 'big things' from us (I mean U.S.). As I understand it, the idea of bigness started to get out of hand with the Big Duck, in 1931.

And yes, Roadside America is the classic site to find many of America's giant wonders. An even better place is World's Largest Roadside Attactions.
posted by LeLiLo at 7:59 PM on September 8, 2002

And these attractions can sometimes be found in the strangest of places. Oxford England, epitome of education and intelligence, dignity and decency, has a great big shark sticking out of a house.
posted by bwerdmuller at 8:15 PM on September 8, 2002

[Slightly off-topic] As a Aussie (albeit a relatively new one) I must object to your use of "puny", lelilo. In terms of square kilometers, Australia is nearly 90% of the size of the continental US. Pretty big. Of course, if you count actual habitable land, then puny is indeed an accurate description. :)

I can't believe I visited Oxford and never saw the big shark.
posted by web-goddess at 8:37 PM on September 8, 2002

No discussion of Big Things would be complete without a mention of their greatest admirer, Zippy the Pinhead.
posted by Silune at 8:52 PM on September 8, 2002

The bloke who did the photo of the giant prawn also has a 404 page on his site that says: "You step in the stream/but the water has moved on/this page is not here,' in a very tasteful light grey colour on a white background.1
posted by carter at 8:55 PM on September 8, 2002

God, if that big avocado were only real... mmm... I might have to fly over to Australia just for a weekend at Avocado World and an avocado milkshake.

And the US may be larger than Australia, but Australia is its own continent, which must be good for some bragging rights.

I love these big things! Thanks for the links all.
posted by evanizer at 9:36 PM on September 8, 2002

The Big Rocking Horse is just up the road from me, and for year's I've been tempted to head there with a tin of brown paint. With about 4 strokes of paint, you can change the sign so it reads "The Big Fuckin' Horse". This particular Big Thing has a toy factory on site, where you can purchase beautifully made (though expensive) wooden toys for the kids.
posted by Jimbob at 11:02 PM on September 8, 2002

Big Things are very Australian.

It might also be worth noting that there was a documentary on recently in Australia called "A Loo with a View" about the small country town of Dunedoo in New South Wales that tried to revive its economy by building "The Big Dunny". It was intended to "to house five-star toilets, a gift shop, a tourist information centre, a viewing platform and hopefully a radio station". Caused quite a bit of a ruckus if I remember rightly.
posted by Major at 12:01 AM on September 9, 2002

Even as an American (albeit one who lives her life on a tiny island nation in Asia) I find myself also objecting to that "puny" comment, lelilo. Yes, the population in Oz is nice and low, but the hours it takes to get from one of these big attractions to the next puts the size of the country into perspective. That is one mass.

The most amusing souvenir to be had (IMHO) at the Big Banana? The banana print vinyl dole (unemployment) card holder. The tastiest thing at Avocado/Fruit World? Something called a custard apple...mmmm, I'd like one of those made into a shake. Now, please.
posted by squasha at 1:04 AM on September 9, 2002

Web-goddess, you sound like the target audience for, where your inexplicable delight in oversized objects can be indulged endlessly -- a giant clipboard! A prodigious cup and saucer! A really big guitar pick!

On a related note, I've always enjoyed the giant scissors that local nobodies hold for ribbon-cutting ceremonies. When I worked at a small newspaper I had to file dozens of photographs of mini-dignitaries menacing ribbons with what looked like the same pair of enormous scissors. Sometimes we would get the rare combination of the giant scissors and enormous check -- sure to flummox future anthropologists.
posted by argybarg at 1:30 AM on September 9, 2002

South Of The Border (I-90)
The Thing? (I-10)

... and many others.
posted by mischief at 5:20 AM on September 9, 2002

Ha! Thanks for that argybarg. Although, truth be told, I'm not really an indiscriminate lover of all things big. It's just that I'm newly transplanted in Australia and I find the concept rather charming. It's more the idea of a small town building one of these to try to put itself on the map than the "sculptures" themselves.
posted by web-goddess at 5:27 AM on September 9, 2002

I'm pretty sure actually being in the presence of The Big Lobster would make me wet my pants.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:14 AM on September 9, 2002

I took a roadtrip through Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Big Things and saw the Giant Fiberglass Walleye fish that this guy also saw. It's actually quite pretty!
posted by ericableu at 8:20 AM on September 9, 2002

The relatively puny country of Australia (actually, it's much closer in size to the United States than I would have thought)

In terms of square kilometers, Australia is nearly 90% of the size of the continental US.

My hearty and hasty apologies to everyone Down Under. I thought that my use of the ( ) above would indicate that I was making a joke about 'big things.'

A pretty poor joke, it seems. Still, I've never been quite sure about the use of the whatever-you-call-it, tags? like [sarcasm] . . . [/sarcasm].

Please note, web-goddess, that some of my best friends are Australia . . . well, no, I don't really know any Australians. But I'm sure they are fine, upstanding people. (At least nearly 90% of them.)
posted by LeLiLo at 9:36 AM on September 9, 2002

Don't forget all the Canadian Roadside attractions. The largest Dinosaur is in Calgary, iirc.
posted by FiveFrozenFish at 9:57 AM on September 9, 2002

My hometown big dairy cow was recently written up. Sometimes they put a garbage can under the udders.
posted by dhartung at 10:51 AM on September 9, 2002

Nice to visit, hell to live with, the Giant Fruit craze has also saturated New Zealand, most notable, The Giant Kiwifruit (slice).
posted by Catch at 1:38 PM on September 9, 2002

The Big Lobster page people are linking to is WRONG! Kingston is in South Australia, not Victoria. The horror!
posted by Jimbob at 5:32 PM on September 9, 2002

I have seen with mine eyes:

The Big Apple, The Big Avocado, The Big Banana, The Big Cow, The Big Guitar, The Big Macadamia, The Big Orange, The Big Oyster (imagine the nose that one came out of!), The Big Pineapple, The Big Prawn, The Big Windmill and The Big Yabbie.

I don't recommend any of them.

For those commenting on the relative sizes of Australia and mainland US, Australia seems absolutely huge if you are driving any distance, because the towns and cities are so far apart. With such a large land mass and such a small population, everything here is a long way away. When I was young and stupid (I'm older now), I thought nothing of driving from the Gold Coast to Sydney (approx 1,000 km each way) for the weekend, leaving on Friday after work and returning in time to have a shower and go to work on Monday morning.
posted by dg at 12:55 AM on September 10, 2002

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