Features

The Big Potato, The Big Bin and 6 Other Oversized Australian Things

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“I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges and novelty oversized stuff.” This, the original draft of Dorothea Mackellar’s iconic poem, cuts right to the heart of Australian pastoral experience. Out there among the blue gums, by our lonely country roads and our shores girt by sea, giant versions of things stand tall against the sky. Why have these giant novelty erections? Because they’re awesome, that’s why.

There are more than 150 novelty oversized things in Australia, ranging from fish to fruit to farm animals, to a vast sea of statuesque household items. Some, mounted by or atop restaurants and shops, are an architectural flourish for marketing purposes. Others are commissioned sculptures honouring a thing about the place where they are built, like The Big Cow in Yandina, where there are a lot of regular-sized cows.

If you’re Aussie, you know the big Big Things: The Big Koala in Dadswell, The Big Pineapple on the Sunshine Coast and Coff’s Harbour’s Big Bloody Banana. There’s The Big Ned Kelly in Glenrowan, where he made his final stand, and The Big Tennis Racquet in Barellan, where Evonne Goolagong lives. Tamworth has The Big Guitar and Kingston has The Big Lobster, and somewhere in the Goulburn Valley stands Big Merino, the world’s most threatening sheep.

But the most mystical of Australia’s Big Things are the ones off-Broadway. They are the random creative results of DIY craftsmen, the product of truly impenetrable minds. All Big Things inspire confusion and wonder, but these guys are at the top of the food chain.


The Big Potato

Described on TripAdvisor as “the most underwhelming Big Thing in Australia”, The Big Potato was created by a plucky potato farmer in 1977 who wanted to share his love of Sebagos with the world. It looks an awful lot like a big rock, unless you whack Big Mr Potato Head Features on it, which is exactly what a merry band of pranksters did back in 2010. Commentators agreed, the transformation was incredible. When it had eyes, you could really tell it was a potato. Boom tish.


The Big Boxing Crocodile

Erected in 1983 outside a gas station in Humpty Doo, this eight metre high monstrosity is one of many crocodiles in the Australian Big Things inventory. But this guy is wearing boxing gloves. Because apparently crocodiles aren’t scary enough on their own.


The Big Bin

Kalgoorlie’s claim to fame is The World’s Tallest Bin, which is actually an old bit of pipe with handles and the words “World’s Tallest Bin” written on the side. Erected in 1980 during the Tidy Towns competition, it is an amazing reminder of how small town life can warp both your imagination and your sense of humour. Sadly, Kalgoorlie’s bin is not in the Guinness Book of Records, but as one local said, “Do we really want to be known as the town with the biggest rubbish bin?” Better a giant bin than nothing, I say.


The Big Redback

If ever there was a thing to make the urine whizz back up into your body, it is The Big Redback of Eight Mile Plains. Frozen in the balletic act of mounting an outdoor dunny, the three metre high, five metre wide spider is all black but for it’s beady red eyes and the red slash on its back, denoting death and possibly dismemberment. It’s not funny, kids. Arachnophobia destroys lives.


The Big Cigar

In the town of Churchill in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, a great towering structure thrusts stiffly into the air, which by virtue of its brown colour and yellow banding is known as The Big Cigar. The common wisdom is that it was built in honour of the man from whom the town got its name, good old Winny Churchill, but the local rotary club have other ideas. It’s not a cigar, they say, just a cigar-looking tower. We suggest, as with America’s stance on Cuba, you don’t let pedantry stand in the way of your stogie.


The Big Boozes

There is a sub-category for all the Big Things that replicate alcoholic vessels. On the classy end of the scale, The Big Wine Bottle in Pokolbin doubles as a chimney above an open fire. Moving down the list is The Wine Big Cask in Mourquong, which was actually painted over in 2012 but shall live on in our hearts as the most spectacularly bogan of all Big Things, unless you count The Big Rum Bottle in Bundaberg and The Big Stubbie in Larrimah.


The Big Dead Fish

There are ample fish amongst the Big Things of Australia, but the one atop the Fishy Pub in Fish Creek is undoubtedly the best. Built by artist Colin Suggett in 1990, it is not just a fish but a limp, dead fish – a stunned mullet hanging majestically over a corner of the roof. It looks brilliant, actually, but it’s still utterly mental.


Big Uluru

The Big Rock atop the Ayers Rock Roadhouse in North Arm Cove should not even be on the list, as technically it is smaller that the actual real world thing on which it is based (also sticking with the name Ayers Rock despite a well publicised and widely embraced reversion to the indigenous name, Uluru, is a bit shit). Nevertheless, in a loose discussion of large, unnatural objects lining Australia’s motorways, this guy deserves a mention, not least because The Big Rock is nowhere near the big rock. Why create a scale model of our most-celebrated natural wonder on the NSW coast? Why not, my friend. Why on earth not.

(Lead image: Mattinbgn/Wikipedia)