You don't need to venture far around Australia before you become aware of our penchant for 'Big Things'. Nobody can really explain it, but ever since 1964, when an 11 metre long banana appeared by the roadside in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, other 'Big Things' seem to have been popping up all over the place. Big animals, big fruit, big beer cans, even a twelve metre high guitar, there appears to be no end to our passion for building outsized models of everyday things ... and of course Tropical North Queensland isn't without its share of 'Big Things'.
ONE OF AUSTRALIA'S MAIN ATTRACTIONS, EVEN FOR AUSSIES THEMSELVES, IS THE COLLECTION OF BIG THINGS SCATTERED ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. YOU WOULD NEED YEARS TO SEE THEM ALL, SO WHY DON'T YOU START WITH QUEENSLAND'S BIG THINGS?
You could be blamed for mistaking this bizarre collection of 'Big Things' for some sort of organized promotional campaign but in fact, they are not related to each other in any way. With a couple of exceptions, each one is independently owned and designed. They are usually built to promote a subject particular to that area.
Just north of Tolga, on the Atherton Tablelands, the 'Big Peanut' welcomes passersby to The Peanut Place, an outlet sepcializing in locally grown Hi Oleic peanuts. It's not one of the biggest 'Big Things' on the trail, but considering peanuts are so small... this cheerful chap with his black top hat must be many thousands of times larger than the real thing.
Even if that's not enough to make you go out of your way, the Atherton Tablelands are a great place for a lesiurely drive. And since you are here admiring this 'Big Peanut', why not explore the FOOD TRAIL a little further?
STOP PRESS: The Big Peanut has now been given a new body and is home to The Peanut Place, with a great range of delicious peanuts and snacks.
Along the Millaa Millaa-Malanda road, you can't miss the Big Fish. The Big Fish is located just outside Tarzali Lakes and it is there to let all travellers know that Tarzali Lakes are a good spot for recreational fishing.
Even the tiny, sleepy village of Daintree isn't immune from our 'Big Things' fetish. The Barramundi BBQ Gardens, popular for their grain fed beef and fresh caught barra, is adorned with a six metre long fibreglass barramundi above the front doorway. It's hard to miss, as it's the biggest thing in town.
The pleasant coastal farming town of Bowen is Queensland's mango capital, famous for its 'Kensington Pride', a sweet, fleshy, stringless variety of the popular fruit. In fact, the Kensington Pride has become known as the 'Bowen mango', and many Queensland mango lovers won't settle for anything less. So it seems only fitting that the Bowen Visitor Information Centre should be home to a twelve metre high mango. Located on the Bruce Highway, overlooking Edgecumbe Bay, the centre stocks a range of Mango souvenirs and preserves as well as snacks and drinks and the famous locally produced mango flavoured ice cream.
BIG CROCODILE, NORMANTON
We're not sure if this monster croc really fits into the 'big things' category, since normally our 'Big Things' are actually an oversized representation of a much smaller object. Nicknamed 'Krys the Savannah King', this 8.63 metre statue is actually a lifesize replica of the largest crocodile ever caught, shot by a lady school teacher on the Banks of the Norman River in 1957. It makes you wonder about what sort of discipline problems she had (or didn't have!) in her class.
BIG CROCODILE HEAD
This big fella can be found on the banks of the Daintree River, in the carpark just before the ferry crossing. This is the point where most of the Daintree River cruises depart from, and in face of a competitive business environment, one enterprising operator erected this huge crocodile head to attract potential customers his way. We don't know whether he did or not, but the head is impressive.
The cassowary is a flightless native bird, somewhat similar to an emu or an ostrich, but fitted with an inbuilt 'crash helmet', possibly to aid in racing through the dense forest. Cassowaries can weigh up to 80 kilograms, and stand two metres tall, but this one in Mission Beach towers 5 metres above the curious tourists who pose to have their photograph taken in front of the huge concrete stucture.
Normanton's 'Big Barramundi' stretches 6 metres into the air, an encouraging sight for any would-be fishermen, and a testament to the fantastic fishing that can be found in Queensland's northern outback. Normanton is proud to call itself the 'Barramundi Capital of the North', and hosts the famous 'Normanton Barra Classic' fishing competition every year over the Easter long weekend. Locals who know where to go regularly bring in five kilogram barra, but remember, when you're around our waterways, there's a reason why Normanton is also home to a 8.63 metre statue of a saltwater crocodile!
For as long as locals can remember, there has been an ongoing battle (albeit mostly good natured) between the North Queensland towns of Tully and nearby Babinda for the title of 'wettest town in Australia'. Since 1970, it has become tradition that whichever town received the most rainfall in a year would be presented with a golden gumboot. Tully still holds the all time record for 7.9 metres of rain in 1950, but Babinda has been receiving more rain over recent years. To leave no doubt, the good people of Tully erected a 7.9 metre high fibreglass 'golden gumboot' in their town. It seems only fitting that the completion of the 'Big Gumboot' was delayed by more than a month by heavy rain.
Stay tuned... there are rumours that a giant umbrella is in the planning for Babinda.
The glossy red 'Big Crab' crouches menacingly near the entrance to a Cardwell restaurant, known as ... surprise surprise... the 'Big Crab'. Famous for their fresh seafood, especially prawns and crabs, all Mud Crabs at the Big Crab are available either cooked, live or steamed.
The big Brolga (a native Australian bird) is on the southern edge of Townsville, in the gardnes of the local tourist information centre.
This eight metre tall Marlin ouside Stockland Shopping Centre on Mulgrave Road, in Cairns is a reminder that you are indeed in 'big game fish' territory. The coastline from just south of Cairns to Cooktown in the north is known as the 'Marlin Coast' and this region is deserved of its reputation as the Marlin Capital of the World! The first 1000-pound Black Marlin ever caught in the world was caught just off the coast of Cairns. Now, more 1000 pound Black Marlin are caught on the Cairns coast than in the rest of the world's fishing grounds put together!
BIG CAPTAIN COOK
By the time you read this, the ten metre high statue of Captain Cook may no longer be gazing south along Cairns' Sheridan Street (also part of the Captain Cook Highway) The unmissable landmark, which has stood outside the Captain Cook Backpackers Hostel since the 1960s, is up fo sale. The site has been purchased by Japanese developers, and there is no room in their plans for a gigantic concete statue of an 18th century British seafarer.
James Cook University student association is bidding for it and there's also interest from Cooktown - of course.
There is one more Aussie 'Big Thing' that we just couldn't resist sharing with you, even though it is in South Australia, thousands of kilometres away. Click on the satellite photograph below to see the biggest piece of artwork in the world.