Thursday, June 2, 2011

Big Larry

Australia is a big country, and as such, should have some big things in it.  Sure there are some big natural wonders – like the world’s biggest coral reef (Greet Barrier Reef) and the world’s biggest rock (Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock) – and some of the animals are a bit larger than they should be (the emu is a big ass bird and every spider I see is about 120 times bigger than it should be) – but the vast majority of Australia is pretty empty.  I mean, look at a map.  There are literally only five cities in a space roughly the size of the continental United States.  The whole middle of the country – and most of the northern part of the country and all of the western part of the country with the exception of Perth – is pretty much barren.  So, what did Australians do to ease this empty feeling?

They built Big Things.

The Big Things are just that – big things – and they are scattered all around Australia.  They are big replicas of… things.  They are sculptures, statues, and structures of anything and everything you can think of, and they are mainly located in small towns or in the middle of nowhere – along roads that stretch between two places of mild interest.  These are places that desperately need a big fucking thing to bring in a bit of tourist revenue.  They started as tourist traps, and they still are to this day.  The Big Things generally have a restaurant or gift shop attached to them – places where you can buy a dried out microwaved chicken sandwich or some shitty souvenir you don’t need.  But aside from the blatant and utter tourist-trappiness of it all, the idea is pretty cool.

I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about the Big Things.  The only big thing I had really ever seen in the US was the big 19-story cross outside of Amarillo, Texas.  There is nothing more disturbing than driving across rural West Texas and seeing a giant cross just to remind you that you are in West Texas and surrounded by fanatical, foaming-at-the-mouth Christians who would jump at the chance to proselytize, imprison, or bash on a liberal gay Jew.  ::shiver::

But after a little research, I began to see that the Australian Big Things were nothing like that big eyesore of a religious symbol.  The first Big Thing was the Big Scotsman, built in South Australia in 1963.  The Big Thing concept soon exploded and now there are more than 150 Big Things across Australia.  There’s a Big Captain Cook somewhere in this great land, but it’s not all statues of people.  Animals are a popular inspiration for Big Things, and you’ll find many native fauna portrayed:  Big Cassowary, Big Platypus, Big Koala, Big Barramundi, and Big Tasmanian Devil.  There is a Big Spider, but I really don’t think Australia needs any more big spiders.  The live ones are big enough.  You’ll find more than one Big Crocodile, and someone maybe got a bit too creative when they created the Big Boxing Crocodile.  Seriously.  It’s standing up and has boxing gloves on.

There are plenty of usual animals too – like the Big Bull, Big Sheep, and Big Chook (chicken).  How about a Big Dead Fish?  Yep.  We’ve got that.  It’s laying flat on its side.

Food is another favourite:  Big Apple, Big Banana (actually, there are like 6 Big Bananas), and Big Macadamia Nut, among others.  Aussies love to get their drink on, so of course the Big Beer Can, Big Wine Bottle, and Big Wine Cask are all appropriate.  Pregnant?  Boring?  Mormon?  No alcohol for you?  Well, you can go marvel at the Big Slurpee.  Yep.  Slurpee.  A big one.

It’s not just animals and food items.  Many random inanimate objects exist across the country too:  Big Coffee Pot, Big Paper Clip, Big Bowl, Big Rocking Horse, and I could go on and on.  There’s even a Big Rubik’s Cube, and some dumbass built a “Big Ayers Rock” – which is obviously many times smaller than the real Ayers Rock, so I really don’t think it should be called the Big Ayers Rock.  That’s false advertising.

My absolute favourite one has to be the… Big Poo.  That’s right.  There’s a Big Poo.  The Big Poo is in a coastal town called Kiama, about two hours south of Sydney.  Residents built the Big Poo in protest of Sydney Water’s dumping of wastewater into the ocean.  Whatever the motive and however good the reason is, there’s a giant poop somewhere south of Sydney.  Awesome.

So, why am I blogging about Big Things now when I should be blogging more about the Adelaide-Melbourne trip???  Well, it just so happens that Liz and I took a little detour to Kingston, South Australia on our drive toward the Great Ocean Road.  And in Kingston, we got to see our first Big Thing:  the Big Lobster!  Larry the Lobster is what the locals refer to him as, and he’s a big tourist draw for Kingston.  After all, the only reason we drove an hour out of our way was to see this.  Indeed Larry was a lobster, and indeed he was big.

OMG he’s going to eat me!

Doesn’t the sign just scream tourist trap?

See.  Somewhere in that restaurant is a microwave ready to heat up a disgusting chicken sandwich for an unsuspecting German tourist.  Not me.  I ate at another Kingston restaurant which was not affiliated with the Big Lobster, and I managed to force down half of a microwaved chicken sandwich there.

Ugh.  Crap.  Are we in Melbourne yet?

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