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Published December 31st 2019
Big things and little towns create a road trip to remember
A strange but true fact is that Australia is home to over 150 'Big Things' - the gigantic sculptures and novelty buildings which pay tribute to a region or town's claim to fame. Ranging from the amazing to the downright weird, many Aussie towns have made the decision to feature a Big Thing as part of their tourism strategy. The Canberra Region isn't immune from the desire to build whopping great objects and includes the full spectrum - from the majestic Big Merino to the more mediocre Big Potato and a few others to keep things interesting.
There's something nostalgic about a road trip which includes a stop off at a 'Big Thing' and with the current desire to support our bush neighbours. It's easy to forget how many rural communities are struggling through drought within a short drive from Canberra - a weekend road trip of Canberra's Big Things is the perfect opportunity to dial the kitsch up a notch but also support some of our bush neighbours - stop for a coffee or lunch, browse the unique stores on historic 'main streets' and discover some hidden gems, then strike your best pose with a Big Thing!
The Big Merino, Goulburn
The Big Merino Goulburn
The Big Merino is a road trip institution - 15 metres high and 18 metres long, he's modelled on a real ram, Rambo, and is anatomically correct (his 'assets' seem to be photographed almost as much as his cute-but-creepy face. He relocated when roads bypassed his old home and he is now conveniently placed next to fuel and food, so you can snap a selfie and have a break before driving on. The Big Merino also features a shop inside him (yes, you read that correctly) which, as well as sheep themed souvenirs and toys, also includes some high-quality woollen products including clothes, dog beds and more. Worth a stop to stretch your legs on a trip to or from the Capital.
Built in 1973, the Big Trout is a whopping 10 metres high and weighs in at 2.5 tonnes, quite the catch. It resides in the little mountain town of Adaminaby and provides a great photo opportunity. The Big Trout had a makeover in 2012 and is big, bold and beautiful these days. There's an amazing bakery within walking distance (their lamb roast pie is a real winner on a brisk winter's day), making the Big Trout an ideal stop off especially if you're on the way back from a long day skiing at Mt Selwyn.
Like the Big Merino, the Big Cherries have relocated to maximise their opportunity to lure tourists in for a selfie. The Big Cherries moved from their original home on Short Street to their current base on Lovell Street alongside the Young Visitor Centre which is located in the historic railway station. The Big Cherries pay tribute to Young's number one export, you guessed it: cherries. The town also pays tribute to the delicious fruit at its annual National Cherry Festival in December. December is peak cherry season, so you can pick your own or buy a box from one of the many roadside stalls to nibble as you pass beneath the big cherries.
Cootamundra is the birthplace of 'The Don', Sir Donald Bradman and the town is full of cricket memorabilia and tributes. So it seems only fitting that the little town's very own Big Thing is a set of big cricket stumps. The Big Cricket Stumps stand sentinel over the oval on Adams Street, a quaint tribute to the town's cricketing history. If you decide to include this stop on your Big Thing road trip, can find more to see in the Cricket Lover's Guide to Cootamundra.
Modelled on the Sebago potato and measuring up at ten metres long and four metres wide, the Big Potato is mocked for its resemblance to, ahem, a Big Turd. But what the Big Potato lacks in glamour, it makes up for in effort - the little Southern Highlands Town of Robertson is famous for its potatoes and while delicious, it would be hard to make this humble vegetable look pretty. So while this one is more of a 'points for effort Big Thing, it's still worth a stop - you'll find great antiques, pies and nurseries around town although the Big Potato's potato hut selling sacks of the famous root vege is no more.
With this gang of quirky giants dotted across the Canberra region, surely there's no more inspiration needed to get out your planner, map a route and hit the road next weekend? The Big Things and their little towns would surely appreciate the visit and your Insta feed will become the stuff of nostalgic legend.