My dogs and I are kind of a package deal. www.instagram.com/eddythepughuahua
Published August 21st 2016
Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
No real Aussie road trip is complete without one (or several!) pit stops to see Australia's iconic 'Big Things' - some even consider them to have become a cult of some sort. For those of you who don't know, Australia's Big Things phenomenon started off as tourist traps - they were cleverly placed on highways in between big cities, to attract people to make a pit stop to break up long drives. The first Big Thing, a Big Scotsman in Adelaide, was built in 1963 - there is now an estimated 150 of them, with Big Things in every single state in Australia.
You can now stay at Scotty's, where the first ever Big Thing resides!
Big Things that may spring to mind are the Big Banana in New South Wales and Larry the Big Lobster in South Australia. However, although not as famous, there are many more that are equally impressive. Some Big Things may be in remote locations, but others are smack bang in the middle of a city.
Unfortunately Larry the Lobster was undergoing maintenance works and did not look as fabulous as it's former self - last I checked, Larry needs funding to undergo the repairs he so desperately needs, so please help out if you can!
One of the best road trips you can take is from Brisbane up to Cairns - the number of Big Things you will pass by is huge! However, even when encountering Big Things is not a factor, the 1684km Pacific Coast Touring Route from Brisbane to Cairns is a must do - although Cairns is famous for being the gateway to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, there are many small towns and cities along the way that are forgotten by both tourists and locals alike.
If you're poor on time or if you're just not keen on driving over 3000km, you can always do what I did and rent a car from Brisbane, drive it up, drop it off in Cairns, and fly home!
The Big Strawberry is of course, located in Rolin Farms, which has PYO strawberries when they are in season from June through to November. They're dog-friendly, meaning dogs are actually allowed in the strawberry fields - Eddy's first ever strawberry was actually one that he stole from the ground at Rolin Farms!
The Big Cheese may look 2D in this photo, which is what I thought when I first drove past. However, when I paid Maleny Cheese a visit and saw the Big Cheese from up close, I realised that it was, in fact, an actual 3D Big Thing! What was better than seeing a Big Thing was the cheeses that I got to sample - they were absolutely divine.
The Big Pineapple originally opened in 1971, and is unique to most other Big Things because you can actually go inside, browse the pineapple themed exhibit they have inside, and climb up the stairs to the viewing deck where you will be rewarded with stunning views of surrounding areas. What's even better is that it's free! There is also a Pineapple Train that operates from 9am to 4pm every day, with the last train leaving at 3:30pm.
The Big Pineapple was so big I couldn't fit it into a landscape photo like I usually do.
The Big Macadamia Nut is on the same grounds as the Big Pineapple, although unfortunately for this big fella, it has been abandoned and is in a state of decay. The floorboards were falling apart, and the trees had grown so much that a 16m tall Macadamia Nut is nearly covered. I had to look really hard to find it, only to realise it had been right under my eyes the whole time. It's a shame when these famous iconic attractions become abandoned and forgotten, but these things happen.
The Big Cow is a hidden gem - the first time I tried to find it, I didn't have an exact address, and so spent ages driving around looking for it. It was well worth it though - despite its dismal surrounds, being located in an abandoned training centre only adds to the coolness factor. Plus, you'll never have to worry about finding a park!
The 18m long Big Cow makes Eddy look like an XXXXXS rather than an XS.
Located in Noosaville, which is part of the Noosa Council, it's only right that they have a Big Pelican here - after all, the pelican was originally the emblem of Noosa Council. Percy the Pelican was built in the 1970s, and can rotate its head, open and shut its bill, flap its wings, blink its eyelashes, and wiggle its tail - how very clever! It does, however, take two people inside Percy to operate it, so unfortunately, I did not see Percy the Pelican in action on the day I went. He was still a very cool fella though I must say!
The Big Shell is of course, situated outside a shop that sells.. you've got it, shells! The shells were reasonably priced, and despite there being so many options to choose from instead, I wish I could have taken home the 5m shell outside the shop instead! They also have free postcards of the Big Shell, which is pretty awesome too.
Does anyone remember Maltilda, the kangaroo with the amazing eyelashes, from the 1982 Commonwealth Games? Standing at 13m tall, Matilda has since retired and now resides at a service station in Kybong, a suburb just 11km south of Gympie. Matilda stands proud next to a small lake, from where you can also catch an amazing sunset if you time it right.
Maryborough is a city approximately 255km north of Brisbane. It is home to the biggest Ned Kelly you will ever see... as well as home to Lychee Divine, which produces the most delicious lychee ice cream I have ever tasted.
The 7m x 2m Ned Kelly in standing tall in all it's glory.
Stop #14 and #15: Bundaberg, Queensland Location: 36 Avenue St, Bundaberg East QLD 4670
Location: 147 Bargara Rd, Bundaberg Central QLD 4670
Bundaberg is a perhaps more popular tourist destination than Maryborough, with one of the reasons being the famous Bundaberg Traditional Lemonade, and of course, Bundaberg Rum!
Some alcohol courage for the long drive ahead... just kidding!
Fill up at The Big (Crab) Shell... get it? Although this is quite a puny Big Thing, I think the pun was unintentional because the Big Crab was actually originally intended to promote the owner's crab sandwiches. I'm not ashamed to say that I kept my receipt from filling up at The Big Shell, it's probably the only chance I'm going to get to fill up at a Big Thing!
Stop #17: Rockhampton, Queensland Location: All over town!
Rockhampton is known as the Beef Capital of Australia - true to its name, Rockhampton is literally littered with Big Bulls. The biggest ones that I saw were in the centre of the major roundabout from which you can enter and leave Rockhampton - got lots of weird stares from drivers as we were walking there, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do for the Big Things.
Came across this Big Thing while trying to look for the Big Dugong, which unfortunately we could not see as it is located in Dreamtime Cultural Centre - we had to get going in order to make it to our next stop point (Townsville) before nightfall. Besides, Big Things don't really count if you have to pay to see them! The Big Bulldog is one of my favourites, because it sort of looks like a pug - I know deep down that it is a bulldog (it was standing outside Mack in VCV Rockhampton), but I'm in a bit of denial and keep telling myself that it is a pug...
Can't get more Queensland than this! Stop by the local pub in Koumala to break up the long drive - I did not come across this Big Thing in my research so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this Big XXXX Can. Luckily I was the one driving at the time - I can spot Big Things from a mile away, and so I was able to pull over just in time. Yay!
Buffy the Big Cane Toad is so hilarious and adorable at the same time! Buffy was built in recognition of Sarina's cane farming history. Cane toads were introduced to Australia from Hawaii in 1935, in an effort to control the native grey-backed cane beetle and Frenchi beetle.
Sorry for not getting a better photo of you Buffy!
Stop #22: North Mackay, Queensland Location: 2/25 Harbour Rd, North Mackay QLD 4740
Perhaps a distant cousin of the more famous Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, the Big Banana in North Mackay is actually the one I prefer more, perhaps because it is less commercialised. This Big Banana is situated outside a fruit produce store, Thommo's Big Banana.
To put things into perspective, this Big Banana is at least 7m tall!
Alas, how could we forget the Big Mango? The Big Mango cost a whopping $90,000 to construct a massive icon representing the fruit that made Bowen famous both within Australia and around the world. This Big Mango was also involved in a publicity stunt by Nandos back in 2014. Can you spot the little ant on the Big Mango?
Two Big Things at the same location - it's like buy one get one free! I spent about 20 minutes on Google Earth just now trying to find the exact address, at which I finally succeeded - however, keep following the Bruce Highway northbound and you should see it on the left. The Big Watermelon Slice and The Big Pumpkin are located on a farm produce in Gumlu - you can even go inside the Big Watermelon Slice!
Can't believe we managed to fit two people inside the watermelon..
Again, two Big Things in the same location - how great is that? Funny thing is, we found the Big Turtle in Plantation Park by accident while trying to find the Big Snake - even doing a search now, I cannot find anything online about a Big Turtle in Ayr. The Big Turtle is located inside the shady area with lots of trees, whereas the Big Snake is quite close to the entrance. I still find it hilarious when I think about how we managed to struggle finding a 60m long snake.
Cardwell Seaview Deli Cafe supposedly has the best mud crab sandwiches ever - I would give you my opinion on this if I didn't have the misfortune of being allergic to seafood. However, I still thought Cardwell was an amazing place, because it again had 2 Big Things in one place - a Big Mud Crab and a Big Chair!
The Big Gumboot is another one of those awesome Big Things that you can climb up! It is 7.9m tall, with the height of the gumboot representing the amount of rainfall recorded in Tully in the year 1950. Kudos to whoever came up with this idea! Another fun fact is that the annual Golden Gumboot competition involves Tully, Innisfail, and Babinda, for the wettest town of Australia.
Stop #29: Mission Beach, Queensland Location: Cassowary Shopping Village, Wongaling Beach Road, Wongaling Beach QLD 4852
The significance of the Big Cassowary in Mission Beach is that this area is blessed with a population of the southern cassowary, which is currently endangered. With an average weight of about 60kg, it's no wonder that they can cause a threat to humans and as such, should not be approached (unless it's a Big Thing of course)! However, humans also cause an equal, if not greater amount of harm - there have been increasing numbers of motor incidents involving the endangered cassowaries. Please stay safe on the road in this area, and take notice of all the cassowary road signs you see when driving.
Unfortunately (or fortunately?) this was the only cassowary we saw on our road trip.
The cuter equivalent of Buffy the Cane Toad, this frog in Yungaburra, a town in the Atherton Tablelands, is home to many rainforest frogs that inhabit the North Queensland area. Back in 2008, the Council ordered it's removal but the locals fought hard to keep it - obviously, they did a good job because they succeeded!
Kisses from two girls and you're still not turning into a prince..??
To end your road trip from Brisbane to Cairns on a high note, you have to stop by the Big Captain Cook. I'm sure you all know this already, but Captain Cook was a British explorer who achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia.
In proportion to the great things that Captain Cook achieved.
To sum up, the Brisbane to Cairns road trip should definitely be on everyone's bucket list - you don't have to wait till you retire, all you need is a couple days off and you'll be sweet. We managed our trip between 3 drivers in just 3 days (stopping in Rockhampton and Townsville for one night each), before flying back after a couple days in Cairns. Although we did spend a fair chunk of time in the car, I've always found road trips extremely fun, providing you have a good playlist, good company, and of course, a trusty car! The stop points listed in this article are limited to only Big Things, there are, of course, many other places worth visiting. We also stopped by many lookouts on our way up, and North Queensland is absolutely beautiful - I hope to one day make this same trip up again, this time with Eddy in tow!
Eddy pictured with just a few of my Big Things memorabilia - being the fanatic that I am, I've got heaps more, including shot glasses, pens, magnets, just to name a few...
I've seen the big pineapple,the big bulls in Rockhampton, the big snake and the big spider and aslo big Scotty but that's l all from your list. I have seen many big things elswhere, like the big koala at Dadswells Bridge in Victoria, the big beer can in Cobar, tghe bigg sapphire ring in Sapphire and the big Ned kelly in Glenrowan in Victoria. I love looking for the BIG things whern we travel.
Thanks for sharing this excellent article, you and your friends certainly look like you had a great time on this road trip. I never realised there were so many "big things" out there to find on the way to Cairns.
What an excellent article Jane! It inspired me to want to pack a bag and hit the road. In case you want to get off the beaten track to see 'big' things, there's a big orange at Gayndah and a lot of 'bull' in Banana; both in Central Queensland. The big yellow bull in the park in Banana is who the town is named after. Thank you for the very inspirational recount of your road trip.
There's a 30 minute documentary on the making of the Big Gumboot at Tully. Fascinating as it involved all kinds of typical small rural community politics about how it should look and a major controversy on the way the frog's leg should be shown! Worth watching if you can find it.