The Big Pineapple, which for years has sat roadside on a pineapple plantation at Woombye near Nambour, Qld, was the first big thing I ever visited. I recall the first time I climbed the stairs and entered the 16 metre high fibreglass pineapple, which contained displays all about pineapples. The famed pineapple hosted Prince Charles and Princess Diana when they visited Australia in 1983.
Those days are sadly long gone - the Big Pineapple and plantation fell on hard times and was sold in October 2010 and is soon to be home to a motor racing museum featuring what has been described as Australia’s finest collection of racing vehicles. The collection includes Allan Moffat’s famous bright red Coca-Cola 302 Trans-Am Mustang, first raced in 1969. the plantation around the attraction has been sold separately.
Nabour's one was not Australia's first. An identical Big Pineapple near Gympie was the original Big Pineapple, and it was on that one that Nambour's Big Pineapple was modelled. Gympie's version sat on top of a disused petrol station for years before being demolished in 2008.
The Big Merino in its current location
The Big Merino at Goulburn, NSW, is another big thing that fell on hard times. That happened in 1994 when the the 15 metre tall concrete sheep was bypassed by the freeway, leading to a reduction in visitor numbers. In May 2007 Rambo (as the Merino is locally known) was relocated to a new home within sight of the Hume Highway. In its original location, the Big Merino contains a gift shop on the ground floor and a wool display on the second floor. Visitors could climb to the top and look out through Rambo's eyes to view the local area. It was first opened in Sptember 1985.
The Giant Ram, Wagin, WA
There is a similar sheep, known as The Giant Ram, in Wagen, Western Australia. Their version stands 13 metres tall and stands on a pedestal above picnic facilities. Wagin is one of the largest towns in the Southern Wheatbelt region, and annually hosts the Woolorama, one of Western Australia's largest Agricultural Shows.
The Big Banana is situated out the front of a gift shop surrounded by banana plantations just ourtside of Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales north coast. The 11 metre long; 5 metres high banana is one of the most famous Big Things in Australia and starting the craze of building big things when it was first opened in 1964.
The Big Croc at Humpty Doo to the south of Darwin, NT, is a timely reminder to travellers that they had bettwe watch out because they are in crocodile country. Standing proudly outside a service station, and geared up with boxing gloves and a fighting stance, the Big Croc has become a humorous landmark for the town.
The Big Pelican is at Noosaville on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. This huge structure has movable parts (it can rotate its head, open and shut its bill, flap its wings, blink its eyelashes, and wiggle its tail) that can be operated from the inside. Most tours and bus trips include a stop at the Pelican, which is a great photo opportunity. The Big Pelican was built circa 1977 in Noosa Council's workshop for Rotoract as a float for the Festival of the Waters Parade.
The Big Murray Cod at Swan Hill, Victoria, is a reminder that the Murray river provides great fishing and water sports. The giant fish stands 11m long and 6m wide adjacent to the railway station on Curlewis Street. The Murray Cod was built as a movie prop but is now set to live out its days at Swan Hill as a popular tourist destination. There is also another smaller Big Murray Cod at Tocumwal, NSW.
The Big Lobster at Kingston SE in South Australia is one of the most ftinely detailed of Australia's big things. Known locally as Larry of Lobster, he sits beside a seafood restaurant - where locally caught lobster is naturally the house speciality - and a gift shop. Created in Adelaide in 1979 and shipped down the coast on the back of a truck, Larry is far bigger than its creators intended. He was designed in feet and inches, but there was a mis-communication in the construction stages, and they made it in metres, and that's why the 17 metre high Larry is three times bigger than originally intended.
The Big Platypus at Latrobe, Tasmania, is one of Tasmania's few Big Things. It is at the Australian Axeman's Hall of Fame, Latrobe, near Devonport. Within the complex is a Platypus Interpretation Centre that includes a static display in the form of a forest glade, consisting of six ponds with a flowing water feature, inclusive of comprehensive dioramas, sculptures, mural boards and screens. Taxidermies of Tasmanian species and live native fish/water bug are on display.
A Readymix Logo, carved into the limestone bedrock of the Nullarbor Plain, was created in the winter of 1965 by construction crews sealing the Eyre Highway across the Nullarbor Plain. Situated 13km north west of the John Eyre Motel at Caiguna some 800 kilometres east of Perth near the midpoint of the Eyre Highway, it is the work of Allan Hoare (1936-89), a grader driver. It is said to have been created as an emergency airstrip for Readymix emploees, the logo making it easily identifiable from the air. It was never used as an airstrip and is a long way from the road and Caiguna settlement, so this may have been a myth generated to cover up that it had been created purely for advertising purposes or out of boredom.
The "diamond in the desert", which is on the Nightshade pastoral lease, was once a familiar sight along what used to be the trans-continental flight route. Ansett and TAA domestic flights used Caiguna's VOR station as a turning point on routes to and from Perth, so the logo was visible to crew and passengers on flights between Perth and the eastern capitals.
The diamond shape measures 3.2km across by 1.6km high. Inside the diamond, the word 'Readymix' was listed in the Guiness book of records between 1972-1992 as the largest lettering in the world, with interest being revived in it with the advent of satellite imaging.
While the diamond was maintained by "occasional grading" from soon after its creation, by the mid-1970s, the diamond was becoming overgrown. John Crocker, owner of Balladonia station, was subsequently employed, and regraded it several times until about 1980. Crocker took several days to do the job each time. It has not been graded since.
By 1998, the diamond was barely visible and remains that way, although it still survives on a number of maps, including some issued very recently. It can be viewed using Google Earth. Readymix is a the name of a major Australian supplier of ready mixed concrete, hence its name. "The Diamond In The Desert"