Thursday, April 03, 2008

We are Bloody HUGE

Good old Eleanor Bloom's post about a rich-but-clearly-thick Western Australian brewer planning on building the 'complete' replica of Stonehenge in his back garden got me thinking. Not only that in order to make it a true copy he'd also need to install a wire fence, a tollbooth, a busy underpass and a block of dodgy toilets filled with Druid-influenced graffiti; but also that we Aussies have always been into BIG things. We're the biggest island, we have the biggest rock, the biggest reef, the biggest sufferers of skin cancer on the planet.

Holiday destinations are no different. Even here in South Australia - the state that seems to receive more than it's fair share of brickbats, we've done our best to construct a few 'biggies' ala Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams: "Build it and they (clueless tourists in our case) will come."
As pictured proudly above, we have the Big Lobster at Kingston which, sadly, is pretty much one of the highlights on the long trip back from Melbourne, because, let's face it, the Big Wool Bales aren't exactly the most breath-taking sight:

Lord knows what people actually are curious and sufficiently moved enough to want to enter the gift store and buy a souvenir from these three white boxes. The tiny bloke in the photo is not actually posing happily; he needs help in locating the toilets.

The same could be said for the Biggest Wine Cask:

Admittedly we spent more than a quick drive-by at this monolith because we tried to get our mate Ian to stand close up to the camera to make it appear as though he was drinking directly from it. We weren't successful and the only way you can get an idea of its size is to note the tree on the right and the red miniskips on the left.

The fact that drinking Stanley wine in a four litre receptable is about as pleasurable as chugging down your own urine doesn't seem to have dampened the winery's hopes that tourists would flock in wonder at their BIG one.

We also have the Biggest Rockinghorse (no I don't know why either), a sort-of-big strawberry (if only to publicise the farmer's pick-your-own concern) and I know of several Big Cows or Cattle and in one town the artist keeps a batch of ~ahem~ danglers because bored locals like to steal them for hens' nights and mantelpiece ornaments.

The rust-mottled orb pictured here used to be called the Big Orange, but it's no longer open to tourists. That's probably because when I saw it as a bored teenager in the 1980s, the hot riverland sunshine had already leached the colour out of it and 'The Big Pink' didn't sound quite so attractive when related to fresh produce and not in curing STDs.

Perhaps too, they could no longer lay claim to being the world's biggest orange - maybe those pesky Californians had constructed something far more ambitious.

When I was a kid, however, anything big was truly BIG. BIG in the sense of being the ultimate holiday destination, the best photo opportunity and the most amazing places to buy top quality souvenirs. When we arrived at the Big Banana on day four of our 4 month caravanning holiday, my brother David believed that he'd seen the ultimate and was ready to go home. Little did he realise that there was still the Big Shell (which resembled a white-cemented public toilet cubicle), the Big Bottle (where I believed that buying an empty Bundy rum miniature for 10c was a smart buy) and the Big Pineapple.

Our older brother chose to have his 13th birthday there and David and I were so envious and yet so pleased at his choice of location. To celebrate the event, all of us were allowed to buy something from the gift shop. I bought the obligatory ruler with stickers on the front of it and an eraser shaped like a pineapple. Dave bought a collapsible cup that held about a quarter of a nip of whisky (very handy for a nine year old) and Robert selected a cap.

Our parents must have groaned at what we were throwing our spending money on and despaired when David loudly announced: "When I grow up, I'm going to own a Rip Off Kiosk."
Even after snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, I insisted on buying a basket of hand-painted coral and a pink felt pennant (for sticking under the top bunk in the van) and admired the Big Cassowary statue at Mission Beach enough to fork out for a rubber replica. Dave thought a snow dome was more appropriate as well as a pocket knife.

These days, my all time favourite Biggie is the Big Koala. Situated at picturesque roadstop Dadswell's Bridge, it breaks up the boring car drive between Adelaide and Melbourne only for its sheer butt-ugliness. As Love Chunks once said, it looks more like a pile of koala crap than an actual koala, and situating a gift shop right where its genitalia should be is just disturbing.

Up until only a few years ago, Dadswell's other claim to fame was a weather-beaten sandwich board that stridently warned: 'This is the last place to buy your Farmers' Union Iced Coffee'. Beyond that, we South Aussies were forced to endure the watered-down treacle called Big M that dominated the market in Victoria. I actually considered it a fate worth enduring because I just wasn't prepared to walk inside the poor mammal's front bum for 600ml of flavoured milk and a gift set of opal-studded teaspoons.


franzy said...

I heard you on the radio this morning!! Talking about your mum throwing cordial all over you little bastards!
Nice work!

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Franzy - just part of my year of saying 'Yes' to any opportunity. Besides, I'm free, available during standard office hours and am silly enough to do it.
The cordial story was true, btw.

Carolyn said...

That koala used to scare the shit out of me on trips to Melbourne. Children shouldn't be allowed near that thing.

davey said...

I dunno what your point was, but I friggen love that pineapple.

I know it's bogan, and clueless, and... POINTLESS.. but hey.

You can't fight love baby.

tomshideaway said...

I think we need to send Chevy Chase there and film Australian Vacation so he can go to all those Big Sights!

Baino said...

In Robertson, NSW in the Southern Highlands where they filmed "Babe" is a huge rusty poo which the locals call "The Big Potato" . . .only one word comes to mind WHY! (Of course there's the big banana at Coffs Harbour, the big Avocado at Byron Bay, the big oyster at Taree, the Big Merino at Goulburn . . the list is endless!

Rosanna said...

What an absolute hoot of a post. I love the giant pineapple - though I've never seen it in real life. Never heard of the big wine casket!

I feel most educated ;)

Anonymous said...

Who's silly enough to actually pay a contractor to build these things. Do you know how many beers you could drink with that money?

kiki said...

oh yeah!

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Gledwood said...

re lobsters: yukk

my mum once said to me you're so funny getting the eebyjeebies about "food" (with a giant undersea spider dead upon the kitchen table)


eleanor bloom said...

Ha! With stonehenge, I mean, The Henge we're so gonna beat you!!!!

Ah, now I'm reminded of all the big stuff I was trying to think of (having masterfully well-avoided such sights and sites in my travels)!

And I'm just glad the entrance to the Koala isn't at the back!

Anonymous said...

Kath where is the big Stanley cask? I want to go and have my picture taken with it right now!!!!!

Red Nomad OZ said...

How AWESOME is that big wine cask? Weird how Americanisms seem strangely appropriate to our OTT objets! I was wondering how I'd missed this Big Thing post - until I saw the date ... I don't think I even knew what a blog was then!!! Thanx for linking up!