Even if you’ve never heard of a “Big Thing”, chances are that you’d recognize one if you saw it. Quite simply, it’s a giant replica of something that stands on highways and outside stores across Australia. They are things that are big, hence Big Things. Simple when you think about it!
The most iconic – and arguably first- Big Thing is the Big Banana at Coff’s Harbour. It stands atop a banana-themed souviner shop and in front of a giant inflatable slide the size of a building (the Banana Slip). But while it’s big (13m long by 5m tall), it’s nowhere near the biggest Big Thing in Australia. And some say that it’s not even the first – that honor goes to the Big Scotsman in Medindie, built around the same time.
The famous Giant Pineapple also just misses out on being in the “Biggest Big Things” list, at 16m tall and 6m wide. So, what did make the list? Using advanced scientific methods (also known as “math”), we are pleased to bring you the Top 10 Biggest Big Things:
10. The Giant Koala, Stawell
Let’s start with something quintessentially Australian. At 14m tall and 8m across, this Big Thing is comfortably Big enough to make the list. It also has an unnerving stare. It was built in 1988 by Ben Van Zetton and is made out of bronze. Located at Dadswell Bridge, near Stawell, it sits just in front of the Grampian Range of mountains, and the koala is known as the “Guardian of the Grampians”. It’s also informally known as Sam. If you fancy visiting Sam, you can also pop into his very own tavern and ice-creamery. That’s one enterprising koala!
9. The Big Pheasant, Tynong
The Big Pheasant sits at the gates of Gumbuya Park, an amusement park that was unsurprisingly enough a pheasant farm until it was converted in 1978. At Gumbuya, you can go tobogganing, paddle boats, try out the water slide or play mini golf. You can even meet Australian wildlife like wallabies and kangaroos. What you’re not encouraged to do is to follow in the footsteps of a 23-year-old Poowong man, who destroyed the rear of the pheasant with explosives in October 2011. It was restored in April 2012 and now stands proudly at 17m tall. Tynong, in case you’re wondering, is a town of 683 people to the South East of Melbourne.
8. The Big Mandarin, Mandubbara
You’re at a caravan park, you need an ice-cream, what do you do? Well, in Mandubbara, Queensland, you head to the nearest giant citrus fruit and hope it doubles as a ice-cream kiosk like this one does. It’s 11m high and 15m wide and is almost the biggest citrus fruit in Australia. Mandubbara means either “Footsteps in the Trees” or “Meeting of the Waters”, as it’s close to where the Burnett, Auburn and Boyne Rivers meet.
The town is a large producer of citrus fruits, hence the iconic Big Thing, and the first citrus orchards were planted by Henry Zipf there in 1933. It even calls itself, “The Citrus Capital of Queensland”, although its neighbor Gayndah also claims the title with their annual Orange Festival.
7. The Big Orange, Berri
And here is the fruit that kept the mandarin from being the biggest citrus fruit in Australia – the Big Orange! Built in 1980, it measures 15×12, so just one meter one way bigger than the Mandarin. At the time, it was the biggest sphere in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the owners said it was the only Big Thing which had a business operating inside. It’s been sold a number of times, most recently in 2008, but has never been really commercially viable and has been redundant for a great deal of its life. Inside, there are four levels and it includes a cafe/souvenir shop and a lookout room. However, the building hasn’t been used since its last sale and in December 2011, the signs directing tourists towards the Big Orange were removed.
6. The Big Barrel, Bundaberg
On the other hand, this Big Barrel is fully functioning as a tourist attraction, with a visitor center celebrating the Bundaberg ginger beer. It has interactive displays and even a 3D hologram adventure called “Doug’s Promised Land”. The visitor center was opened by the then Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile. The barrel is huge – 25m by 10m, but has been discounted by some Big Thing enthusiasts as “just a building, cleverly disguised as a barrel”.
It’s in Bundaberg East, not far from the ocean, in the state of Queensland. Nearby is Moore Park, with its 20km of golden beach, and Bundaberg is also a good access point to the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. Can the city boast a real Big Thing though? That’s debatable…