Fair dinkum kitsch: discovering Australia’s Big Things
Fair dinkum kitsch: discovering Australia’s Big Things
Video: Australian Slang and Phrases 2022, September
Australia’s quirky roadside statues, often referred to as “Big Things,” hold a firm foothold in the country’s imagination. Acting as bombastic, humorous invitations for tourists and travelers to pull out, snap a photo and spend some money, these monuments of novelty have become icons in their own right and are part of the cultural landscape of any road trip Down Under.
While the U.S. and Canada also have a history of betrayal in highway doll sculpting, Australia brings its own style to the project. In Queensland, a blazing-eyed, snow-white Big Redback Spider menacingly clings to a harness (an outdoor toilet) in an unassuming garden center. In rural New South Wales, a giant beer sitting proudly outside an Australian pub invites weary travelers to stop and quench their thirst. And where else on earth would you expect to find a giant Captain Cook or a towering Ned Kelly in full armor guarding the local post office?
Big Ned Kelly © Lou Barnham
While it’s generally accepted that Australia has more than 150 big things, a solid tally is something of a challenge, as a few monuments slide into decay and degradation while new ones pop up elsewhere. In 2015, a theme park in Jamberu, N.Y., spent A$250,000 on an enormous steel, concrete and fiberglass funnel spider, which won a Guinness Book of World Records award for “Largest Spider Statue in the World.” While Big Funnel-Web is as shiny and new as it will ever be, service on other Big Things is variable-favorites like Larry the Big Lobster in Kingston, South Australia, get tender loving care, while the drive past Bombala Big Cheese, faded and flaky on the outskirts of town, rarely inspires a second glance, let alone a photo opportunity. “Tari’s Big Oyster, once a restaurant, now sits empty at a car dealership.
The Big Shrimp.
The Big Shrimp is another sculpture that originally headed a seafood restaurant, but in 2009 the local council tried to tear down the large sea creature. Residents of Ballina, NSW, started a petition to save the statue, and hardware super-chain Bunnings Warehouse decided to save the shrimp. Resurfaced, with shiny paint and a new tail, Big Prawn now stands proudly outside the new Bunnings Warehouse and continues to take her picture with road trippers heading to the East Coast.
Big Prawn, Ballina © cn2480.com.au/WikiCommons
“Big Shrimp” wasn’t the first big thing to be moved — Rambo, a huge Merino-owl, in Goulburn, N.Y., made the trip of several miles when bypass work forced him to find a new home. With 97 tons of steel, wire and concrete, it now overlooks a gas station, gift store and bakery near Yuma Highway. This famous icon has even been used to raise awareness about prostate and prostate cancer — his giant testicles were painted blue in 2014 for the blue balloon campaign.
Big Merino, Gulburn © Lou Barnham
The Big Banana.
Built in 1964, the Big Banana is often considered the first Big Thing, though, naturally, the title is also claimed by the giant scotlander and large dinosaur. Oldest or not, Banana is the most famous of Australia’s cues. Originally a bold and innovative ad for a roadside banana stand next to a local plantation, it now has a huge gift store, an amusement park, a Banana World exhibit, and a cafe serving sickly-sweet banana splits.
Big Banana Billiards, New South Wales © Lu Barnham
Adaminaby’s Big Rainbow Trout is another example of how the cherished Big Thing can become in the eyes of her local community. When forty years of exposure left the trout’s damaged fiberglass scales and rainbow colors bleached from white, the local community raised funds to give the fish a makeover. It’s more beautiful now than ever, and a favorite of kids visiting the site on their way to Snowy Mountains.
Big Trout, Adamabee (pre) © Lou Barnham
Big Trout, Adamabee (after) © Lu Barnham
In 2007, artist Reg Mombassa, known for his work for the surfing company Mambo, drew five “Big Things” designs for a set of 50 cent stamps. The stamps were to celebrate the innovation of the designers and the location of these statues in the heartland, and the project asked the question, “How do you choose the best Big Things? “The final selection in Mombassa’s distinctive style was Big Banana, Big Omar, Big Merino, Big Pineapple Queensland and Big Golden Guitar Tamaworth, the country-music capital of Australia.
A great choice, the stamps are a reminder of how the feel of Big Things comes down to personal tastes – or even a nice lack thereof. After all, one woman’s Big Mango can be another woman’s Big Winch. And while some of us Aussies and tourists who stand in front of a huge, huge gambot reasonably ask ourselves: “why?”, there are others who can’t help but smile when the huge pink gala joyfully announces, “Halfway across Australia!”
In Australia, all settlements were originally built on the ocean coast. The first city in the center of the mainland was Goulburn. It is located near Sydney and Canberra – 195 and 90 kilometers away, respectively. Goulburn is located at an altitude of 690 meters above sea level in New South Wales. The population of the city is 21484 people. In 1984 the State Police Academy was transferred here from Sydney, which today is one of the largest educational institutions in all southern hemisphere, graduating law enforcement officers.
The city’s climate
Goulburn has a temperate climate. The amount of rainfall during the year is quite high, approximately 684 millimeters. The driest month is June (43 mm), and the most rain falls in November (68 mm). January is the warmest month, with an average temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. July, on the contrary, is considered the coldest, the mercury drops to 6 degrees Celsius. The average annual temperature is 13 degrees Celsius.
In 2015, Goulburn experienced an anomalous, yet unique phenomenon. During the rainy season, instead of precipitation, millions of spiders sprinkled on residents and streets of the city. The arthropods were so numerous that they completely enveloped the roofs of houses with their cobwebs.
Goulburn has several interesting places to visit. For those who want to see the whole panorama of the city, we recommend going to the Rocky Hill War Memorial and Museum. This is a rather tall memorial that is considered one of the best in the country. There is a small military museum located near it.
In the center of the city is Belmore Park. Here, in the shade of ancient trees, there are recreational areas and playgrounds. This is a well-groomed quiet area with flowers and benches, where you can have a good time. The Bungonia State Conservation Area has a picnic area. Free electric barbecues are available for those who want one. It’s easy to get here for seniors and children, as there’s a good road.
Religious history buffs should visit St. Saviour’s Cathedral. It is an ancient church with an organ. There are Gothic statues, a stone altar and excellent stained glass windows that shimmer in the sunlight. One of the symbols of Goulburn is the Big Merino. It is a large statue of a sheep (merino) that is located at the entrance to the town. Also a favorite excursion among tourists is considered to be a visit to Riversdale Manor, where you can meet ghosts.
Where to stay?
There is a wide variety of hotels and inns in Hollywood. The most popular establishments, according to travelers, are:
- The Best Western Goulburn is a chic downtown hotel. It has a heated swimming pool, internet, restaurant, parking, dry cleaning, conference room, and a bar where you can eat during the day. The facility has 70 suites equipped with all the necessary amenities.
- Lilac City Motor Inn & Steakhouse – Animals are allowed at the inn. There is a garden, restaurant, business center, parking and Internet access. Facilities for people with disabilities are provided.
- Goulburn Central Motor Lodge is a modern hotel located in the center of town. The restaurant offers Italian cuisine and room-service delivery of breakfast and newspapers. All apartments are equipped with cable TV, kettle, refrigerator, and other appliances.
- Alpine Heritage Motel is a three-star hotel located near the train station. It has a sunbathing terrace and a seating area, and barbecue facilities are available. There is a play area for the children. The staff speaks English and Khmer.
The most budget hotels in town are Governors Hill Motel, The Astor Hotel Motel, Willows Motel. These places are especially popular with tourists, as they all offer a fairly wide range of services and modern rooms are equipped with appliances and all the necessary accessories.
Where to eat?
Goulburn has a huge selection of cafes and restaurants, breweries and pubs, clubs and bars. Traditional dishes from around the world are prepared here, with special attention paid to vegetarian and gluten-free cuisine. In addition to traditional recipes of beef and lamb, the city also cooks meat of camel, crocodile, kangaroo and emu. The natives greatly respect dishes cooked on the grill: sausages, hams, steaks are placed on a tray with onions and tomatoes, and served with a salad and beer.
The most popular establishments in Goulburn are:
- Fredo’s African Cuisin – It has a full African atmosphere, traditional music is played, and continental food is served. The atmosphere is very friendly and fun. The portions are very tasty and large.
- Ban Thai Restaurant – the restaurant specializes in Asian and Thai cuisine, the dishes here are very tasty. The prices are quite attractive, the portions are big, quick service, take-away food.
- Grit cafe – the cafe serves local food and specializes in healthy eating. You should go here very hungry, since the portions are really big.
- The Roses Cafe – the café has its own bakery where they bake amazing buns. Australian cuisine is prepared in the institution.
It is not customary to leave tips in Australia. Sometimes in an expensive restaurant you can leave 10 per cent of the amount if the service was really at a very high level.
How do I get to Goulburn?
The city is close to the metropolitan areas of Canberra and Sydney, and can be reached from them via the Hume Highway. There is also a train station and bus station in Goulburn, from which transport goes to many points of the country.