Driving around Australia can be quite boring – many miles of straight road, fairly boring landscapes on either side, many miles between destinations. So if one suddenly sees a 46 foot tall bull by the side of the road one might well think that one has fallen asleep.
However, if you happened to be somewhere near Wauchope, New South Wales, you were not dreaming. There really was an enormous cement Holstein bull sculpture of a bull with a gift shop on the “ground floor”. Unfortunately it was demolished in 2007. (Bit of trivia here. Wauchope is twinned with the tiny town of Canisteo, New York which itself has a “big thing” – the name of the village spelled out in Scots Pine trees which appeared in Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” and is on the National Register of Historic Places.)
Wauchope’s Big Bull may have gone, but Australia is still full of other Big Things – an estimated 150 of them including a 16 foot beer can, a 23 foot Murray River cod and a 43 foot banana.
They probably began as advertising gimmicks, or tourist traps and these are located along major roads. Others have been constructed to commemorate some historical person or event, and some are just there as roadside art. The artistic value may be dubious, but they certainly get you to look.
The “big things” of Australia are large structures or sculptures. The first was the Big Scotsman which was erected in 1963. Affectionately known as ‘Scotty’, the Big Scotsman was erected in 1963 at Scotty’s Motel in Medindie, Adelaide. As big goes, Scotty is really trying being a mere 16 feet tall. He was designed by Paul Kelly who later designed Kingston’s Big Lobster which stands 17 meters (56 feet) tall.
These big things have turned into something of a cult phenomenon. Their tourist value is obvious, and they account for many a detour and photo opportunity. A good many of them are considered genuine works of folk art and some have a place on the National Heritage List.