Big Trips To See Australia's Big Things
The best way to see the real Australia is to take your time, hire a car and go on a road trip. There is simply too much to see, especially in the stretches between the big cities, and you'll miss out on the best of the country if you just fly into Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or Brisbane for a few days.
It's almost a given that the country which, for the rest of the world, conjures up images of fellas named Bruce who wear hats with corks dangling, has a few quirky attractions! The Big ones, such as the oversized bananas, beer bottles, lobsters are famous, but name an object and you'll probably find a big version of it in Australia. Most of these Big Things are found in the east, from New South Wales to Queensland. They're a great way to make the long distances of an Australian road trip, seem a little shorter, but you can also use them as the main theme for planning your route.
We've devised the following routes to help you plan the ultimate road trip. Stop at one or two or opt for an epic journey that combines all of them.
These routes don't include all of the Big Things the country has to offer, but it's a great place to start. Also check online before your trip to see if there are any other big landmarks you can include along the way. Drive your own car or hire a car – a convertible or 4x4 would be ideal.
Perth to Melbourne
The journey from Perth to Melbourne involves about 3,500 km of driving through long stretches of nothing much. Luckily there are some Big Things along the way to act as diversions. Before you set out on the long drive, take a short detour to Wagin, 237 km south-east of Perth. This town pays homage to one of the animals Australia is most famous for: No, not the kangaroo or the koala, but the humble sheep. Bart the Giant Ram stands 9 m tall in his hooves and looks out over a wetlands park, great for a picnic.
Once you start the epic drive along the Great Eastern Highway, you'll find Meckering, about 134 km from Perth. Step through the lens of the Big Camera and you'll find yourself in a photography museum.
From Meckering, it's more than 1,300 km to Rooey II, the 5 m-tall Big Kangaroo at Border Village. Border Village marks the point where you leave Western Australia and enter the Nullarbor Plain of South Australia.
Another 824 km takes you to Kimba, home of the Big Galah. A galah is a type of cockatoo usually about 35 cm tall, but the one in Kimba has a height of about 8 m. Next up is Kapunda, 415 km further on and where you'll find Map the Miner, also known as the Big Miner. Take a short detour on the way to Adelaide to stop off at Gumeracha, 71 km from Kapunda, to see the Big Rocking Horse. It's located at a toy factory so if you're travelling with kids, this is a great way to silence the chorus of, 'Are we there yet?' You can also climb the structure, which has a height of 18 m.
From Adelaide to Melbourne there are two main routes that include Big Things. The first route takes you almost 300 km south-eastwards along the coast to Kingston, home of Larry the Big Lobster. This crustacean is very impressive, with a height of 17 m, a length of 15.2 m and a width of 13.7 m. It's the most famous of the Big Things in this part of Australia. From Kingston, turn inland and drive a little over 280 km to Dadswell Bridge for the 'Guardian of the Grampians', Sam the Giant Koala. If you're a die-hard fan of Big Things, you can also make a detour to Hamilton to see its Big Wool Bales.
The other route from Adelaide to Melbourne will take you to Berri and the Big Orange, the biggest fruit in Australia. It has a diameter of 12 m and has facilities like a café inside. At Mourquong near Mildura is the Big Wine Cask.
Melbourne to Sydney
New South Wales is home to lots of Australia's Big Things and most of these are located near the coast. This means that to see them on a drive to Sydney, you'll have to take the long way round. Before you start the journey, spend some time in the Melbourne region to see two of Victoria's Big draw cards. At Cowes there is an attraction called A Maze'N Things which not only makes a great day with the kids, both big and small, and is also home to the Big Tap. Not to be missed at the local koala park with resident Giant Koala.
The Gippsland region, south-east of Melbourne, is known for real-life moving big things, such as the famous giant Gippsland earthworms. At Bass, there is the Giant Earthworm, which houses a museum dedicated to these crawly creatures.
You can take the trip up to Sydney via two routes. The first through Tocumwal, 272 km from Melbourne and just across the Murray River in New South Wales, is home to the Big Murray Cod, a local type of fish. Another 567 km further north-east you'll find the Big Gold Panner at Bathurst, just 200km south-east of Sydney.
The second route involves first driving the 236 km to Glenrowan. This small town was the site where the famous outlaw, Ned Kelly, was captured and today one of its most popular attractions is of course Big Ned Kelly. Standing tall at 6m, this Ned Kelly is considerably larger than the real one, who stood 1.73m tall in his socks.
From Glenrowan, drive to Wodonga on the banks of the Murray River. Here you'll find the Big Rolling Pin on top of a bakery. It's the biggest rolling pin in the world. About 340km further lies Canberra, the capital, with its entire lay-out the result of a competition. Belconnen, one of the city's suburbs, is home to the Giant Mushroom. Off to Goulburn to see Rambo, the Big Merino, a giant with a height of 15m.
Only 140km before you reach Sydney, stop off at Robertson. This village is home to the Big Potato. If the landscape here seems familiar, it's probably because Robertson was also where the hit film Babe was filmed.
The New South Wales interior from Sydney
From Sydney, you may want to travel westwards into the interior of New South Wales to see the region's many attractions and, naturally, some more Big Things. For example, drive through the Blue Mountains region and on to Cobar, 690 km from Sydney. Not to be missed and often associated with men named Bruce: the Big Beer Can.
About 460km further westwards is Broken Hill, made famous as one of the locations – the town where the hotel with the garish murals are located – in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Broken Hill is also home to the Big Ant.
From Broken Hill, head south and travel along the Murray River to Koonoomoo, just over the border in Victoria, for the Big Strawberry. Then head north-eastwards to Narrandera, almost 100 km from Wagga Wagga, where you'll find the Big Playable Guitar, at 6m the largest playable guitar in the world. Rock out!
About 78km north of Narrandera is Barellan, the town where tennis legend Evonne Goolagong grew up. She was one of the greatest female players of the 1970s, won seven Grand Slams and was also the first Aboriginal person to win Wimbledon. As a fitting tribute to this role model, Barellan has the Big Tennis Racquet, modelled on an actual racquet that Goolagong used.
Sydney northwards and along the Queensland coast
The 924km stretch between Sydney and Brisbane leads all along the coast and features more Big Things than you could throw a stick at. First up, is the Big Bottle, a huge wine bottle in Mangrove Mountain, just over 80 km from Sydney, but you'll have to leave the highway to see this one.
Get back to the highway and continue on to Hexham. The area here is famed for its big mosquitoes, referred to as Hexham Greys. Cover yourself in insect repellent and then go see Ossie the Mozzie, the biggest of them all. Try to resist the urge to swat this Big Mosquito on top of a sign at the Hexham Bowling Club.
At Karuah there is a Big Ayers Rock but this isn't technically a Big Thing, since the original version is much, much bigger. Be sure to plan a stop here and enjoy some of the oysters that the town is famed for. This will get you in the mood for the next Big Thing, the Big Oyster at Taree, 117km further on.
A little less than 50km from Taree is Kew and the Big Axe. At Kew, turn off the highway and take the coastal road to get to Port Macquarie. About halfway along you'll come to Lake Cathie where you'll find the Big Bowl. This isn't an oversized container for food but the world's largest bowling ball.
At Port Macquarie, take the opportunity to head inland to Tamworth, 273 km to the west, for the Big Golden Guitar. During the Tamworth Country Music Festival, which is usually held towards the end of January, winners of the Country Music Awards of Australia receive much smaller versions of this 12 m-high instrument. Why not stop and try out your best air guitar!
Once you've got your fill of country head towards the sea and Coffs Harbour about 300 km away. At a fruit and vegetable stand here you'll find the Big Bunch of Bananas, which was relocated to Coffs Harbour from Sawtell, but don't be fooled. This isn't all Coffs has to offer. The Big Banana, the Big Thing that started it all, built in 1964 and the biggest banana in the world.
The Big Elephants at Woolgoolga are the next of the Big Things in this part of the country. They're not really much bigger than actual elephants, but since they're at an Indian restaurant, you may want to admire them while you wait for your curry. You'll need the sustenance for the next stretch, which involves 188 km to Ballina. In 2009 the local shire council approved the tearing down of the Big Prawn but the town's residents would not have it. The prawn has since had a makeover and now even has a new tail.
The next Big Thing on the Australian east coast is at Beerwah, a little less than 75km north of Brisbane. It's the Big Mower, an oversized lawnmower at a local hardware store. Beerwah is also home to Australia Zoo, which became one of the country's most famous attractions thanks to the late Steve Irwin, the 'Crocodile Hunter'.
About 36km further along the road is Nambour, the administrative centre of the Sunshine Coast. Nambour is also home to three Big Things. The Big Pineapple, 16 m high, an early trend setter, having been built in 1971. You'll find it just after you've turned off the Bruce Highway onto the Nambour Connection Road. The Big Macadamia Nut is on the same property. A little to the north of town is the Big Cow.
You may want to spend a couple of days in the Nambour area and enjoy the beaches and take a break. If you're eager to get back on the road, you'll need to travel 542km to Rockhampton and then, from there, head westward for almost 280 km to Emerald. Here you'll find the Big Easel, 25m in height. It supports a painting of 7 × 10 m, a giant replica of one of Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers paintings. Van Gogh painted seven paintings of sunflowers and the Big Easel is part of a project to have one of each of these large-scale replicas in seven different countries.
About 130km north-east of Emerald is the Big Dump Truck and Coal Wagon of Dysart. Heading towards the coast again and travel about 410km to Bowen, home of the Big Mango. This structure is 10m in height and about 4km south of town. At Townsville, a little over 200 km further, is the Big Brolga, a type of bird.
The nursery rhyme talks about an old woman who lived in a shoe and at Tully, 210 km from Townsville on the road to Cairns, you can get a small taste of what this may have been like. Simply climb the staircase up the Golden Gumboot. A little further along the road, at Mission Beach, you'll find the Big Cassowary. Real Cassowaries, another type of indigenous bird, are now on the brink of extinction.
Another 140 km or so takes you to Cairns, the biggest city in Queensland's tropical north. This is where you'll find the Big Marlin. Cairns is marlin-fishing country and at 8m, the Big Marlin is probably the biggest one that didn't get away.
From Cairns, drive 100 km north to Daintree, home of another big fish, the Big Barramundi. If you can't get enough of fish, backtrack to Cairns and head westward to Normanton, a popular place for fishing and home to the Big Fish. Normanton is almost 700 km away but you can also catch a flight from Cairns.
Darwin to Uluru
If you find yourself in Darwin in the Northern Territory, you may want to drive the 40km or so westward to Humpty Doo. You don't only need to do this so that you can say you've been to a place called Humpty Doo but also to see the town's Big Boxing Crocodile, a croc complete with boxing gloves.
Darwin is also a good starting point for a drive through the Australian Outback to the original Big Thing, Uluru. Be prepared for a long, long drive through almost 2,000 km of nothingness to get there.
Let's not forget Tasmania where you'll find some interesting Big Things too. If you take the ferry from Melbourne, be sure to hire a car once you disembark in Devonport. From here it's only about 33km along the coast to Penguin, home of the Big Penguin, standing 3m tall.
If you decide to head southwards from Devonport, make a stop in Latrobe, just over 10km away. This town is famed for its population of platypuses, one of the strangest home-grown animals. At the Platypus interpretation Centre you can also admire the Big Platypus.
Another 45 km takes you to Deloraine, a town that you'll simply love if you're a foodie or like arts and crafts. In keeping with the foodie theme, Deloraine is also home of the Big Coffee Pot. The town has quite an English village atmosphere and if this makes you yearn for all things English, head 17 km to the east, to the town of Westbury. Here you'll find the Big Wickets. The wicketkeeper in a game here would have to be huge, since the wickets are 8 m tall.
About 25 km to the west of Deloraine is Mole Creek. At the entrance to the Trowunna Wildlife Park just before you reach the small village, you'll see the Big Tasmanian Devil. While you're here, you may want to visit the park and see real Tasmanian devils. They're cute until they open their mouths, bare their teeth and show just where their name came from.
There is a lot to see and do around Australia. Planning and taking a trip to explore the oversized landmarks that this country is famous for, is a trip not to be missed. Not to mention the bragging rights at the pub, and trivia kudos that could be yours.