The best Australian ‘Big Things’ on the east coast drive

The big bench- Australia's Big Things

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted August 28, 2023

Like meat pies and swatting flies, there’s nothing more Australian than hitting up the iconic 'Big Things' on a summer road trip.

Ever heard of The Big Prawn? How about The Giant Koala?

These Australian sculptures and statues have become just as iconic as the destinations themselves on the great Aussie road trip. But how did it start? 

One of the first 'Big Things' was the Big Banana in 1964, but things really took off in the 1980s thanks to the Mokany brothers. The two Hungarian petrol station developers came up with the concept of putting ‘Big Things’ near their locations to attract visitors. They decided to make these monuments tributes to the town’s industries – that's how Goulburn got its Big Merino and Ballina got the Big Prawn. 

Now, there are over 150 of these all around Australia – what can we say, when we like a trend, we go big – so we’re going to focus on the popular east coast route from Victoria to Queensland.

And while there are plenty of ways to survive the family road trip, getting to find Australia’s Big Things provides fun for the whole family. 

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Map of Australia's Big Things on the East Coast

15 Australian Big Things to visit along the east coast

The Giant Koala, Dadswell Bridge, VIC

5829 Western Hwy, Dadswells Bridge, VIC

‘Big Things’ really took off in the 80s, and Victoria wasn’t about to miss out on the action. The Giant Koala in the Horsham region, standing over 14 metres tall, is made of bronze and was sculpted by artist Ben Van Zetton. 

In late 2009, the Giant Koala become a memorial for Sam the koala, and the statue has since been used to raise awareness of Australia’s endangered koalas.

Visitors can walk through the koala to grab some touristy goods or nosh at the café, and spend some koala-ty time before enjoying the nearby Grampians.


The Big Koala. Image: Getty.

Looks like this one has the right koala-fications for Australia's Big Things. Image: Getty. 


The Big Banana, Coffs Harbour, NSW

351 Pacific Hwy, Coffs Harbour, NSW

What’s fun about this monument is that you can walk right through it! One of Australia’s first ‘Big Things,’ The Big Banana was conceptualised by banana stall owner John Landi, who was looking for the 'wow' factor that would make visitors stop and take notice. 

Inspired by Hawaii's Big Pineapple, what has now become The Big Banana Fun Park has been welcoming road-trippers since 1964, and is located at the front of an amusement park on banana plantation grounds in Coffs Harbour. Sounds a-peeling. 


You can even have a walk through The Big Banana for yourself. Image: Getty.

You can even take a walk through The Big Banana for yourself. Image: Getty.


The Big Prawn, Ballina, NSW

507 River St, West Ballina, NSW

Standing over nine metres high and designed to be 30 thousand times bigger than a real prawn, it's become one of Australia's favourite big things - you could say it's shrimply the best! (We know. We're sorry).

Built as a commemoration of the town’s prawn industry, The Big Prawn was renovated in 2013 - just after the local council approved its demolition!

Luckily, the townsfolk banded together, and with a new coat of paint and ripping new tail atop a Bunnings in Ballina, just 25 minutes south of Byron Bay, it seems this is one shrimp you won’t be putting on the barbie any time soon.


The Big Prawn had a Big Makeover. Image: Getty.

The Big Prawn had a big makeover. Image: Getty. 


The Big Merino, Goulburn, NSW

Corner of Hume and Sowerby St, Goulburn, NSW

An hour from Canberra if you’re going for an in-land stop, The Big Merino, or ‘Rambo’ as it is known by locals, stands at over 15 metres tall with a weight of 97 tonnes. 

A commemoration of Goulburn’s wool industry, while it has shuffled in location, it currently stands near the Hume Highway Freeway interchange to make it easier for visitors to come on by.   

The Big Merino gift shop also has a selection of products including wool garments, and visitors can even have a climb inside and have a peek through Rambo’s eyes. Wool ewe try it?  


This must have been constructed with shear woolpower. Image: Getty.

The Big Merino must have been constructed with shear woolpower. Image: Getty. 


The Big Bench, Broken Hill, NSW

Federation Way, Broken Hill, NSW

A later addition to Australia's Big Things, Broken Hill’s Big Bench came along in 2022 as part of a 'Landscapes and Backgrounds' exhibit.

An easy stop en route to Sydney, the oversized park bench makes for a fun photo stop as it makes anyone who climbs aboard look rather miniature in stature. And yes – this is one place where you can touch the art. 


The Big Bench

The Big Bench in Broken Hill sure can make you feel small. Image: Getty. 


The Big Golden Guitar, Tamworth, NSW

2 The Ringers Road, Corner New England Highway and The Ringers Road, South Tamworth

While this is not on the coast, Tamworth is a stop about four hours inland from Port Macquarie that many travellers may wish to stop at to take in the country music scene, Tamworth Music Festival, and of course, The Big Golden Guitar as opened by the NSW Tourism Manager and Slim Dusty himself.

Forming part of the Visitor Information Centre and series of shops, a café, and museums, The Big Golden Guitar came about in 1988, and is designed to look like an Australian Country Music Award, the Golden Guitar Awards. So music lovers, go take a photo – there's no strings attached. 


The Big Golden Guitar is ready for you to rock. Image: Alamy.

The Big Golden Guitar is ready for you to rock, no air guitar required. Image: Alamy. 


The Big Pie, Yatala, QLD

48 Old Pacific Hwy, Yatala, Queensland

A smart marketing move, The Big Pie sits on a pole in front of, you guessed it, a drive-through pie shop in Yatala, about 40 minutes inland from the Gold Coast. You can cruise down for lunch and park yourself at the RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast for a bit of R and R! 

Built in the late 1970s, The Big Pie in the sky, visible from the freeway, brings in thousands of visitors to Yatala Pies every day – it's even now listed as one of Queensland’s Cultural Icons and sells over 3500 pies every day. Seems everyone wants a piece!


The Big Pie in the sky

Everyone wants a slice of the action. Image: Yatala Big Pie. 


The Big Pineapple, Nambour, QLD

76 Nambour Connection Rd, Woombye, Queensland

The Big Pineapple is more than just a fruit, it’s an institution. The 16-metre high walk-through pine 40 minutes south of Noosa was built in ‘71, bringing tourist to the Sunshine Coast region. It even brought the owners of the Sunshine Plantation the first-ever annual award for Queensland tourism development.

These days, The Big Pineapple is a fully-fledged heritage-listed attraction, boasting a Pineapple Train, the Big Pineapple Music Festival, zoo, zipline course, fresh produce and visitor centre, to name a few. Seems it lives on, pineapply ever after! 


The Big Pineapple. Image: Getty.

The Big Pineapple is over 50 years old with a viewing platform at the top. Image: Getty. 


The Big Pelican, Noosa, QLD

180 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville, Queensland

‘Percy the Pelican’ as he is known by locals, first came to prominence in ‘77 on a Noosa Council Float, as the pelican is the area’s beloved emblem.

Percy has been on quite a few travels since then – in other parades, hotels, and even a dip in the river near the RACV Noosa Resort– but The Big Pelican now rests comfortably at the aptly named Pelican Boat Hire on Noosa River’s foreshore after a hefty restoration. Seems he left them with a rather large bill...


The Big Pelican Image: Alamy.

This peli-can sure make for a great photo! Image: Alamy. 


The Big Melon, Chinchilla, QLD

Warrego Highway, Chinchilla, Western Country Area, Queensland

The Big Melon, a giant watermelon located in Queensland’s Chinchilla, was almost located in another town. Three and half hours out of Brisbane, in 2018, an online travel company launched a competition to build the ‘Next Big Thing’ - and with a National Melon Festival already the pride of the town, building the nine-metre wide and three-metre tall watermelon was Chinchilla’s turn to get a slice of the - well, melon!


The Big Melon. Image: Alamy.

It sure is one in a melon. Image: Alamy. 


The Big Bullock, Rockhampton, QLD

Gladstone Road, Rockhampton, Queensland

The beef capital of Australia, travellers in Queensland’s Rockhampton won’t take long to find the bull statues and paraphernalia around the town. Erected to attract tourists to the beef farms, the Big Bull statues in Rockhampton have been built between 1978 and 1997, and provide fun for visitors to spot the bulls around the city.

There are seven ‘official’ bull statues, that are on average seven times the size of a regular cow, and made of concrete – so may be a bit hard to get moo-ving. 


The Big Bull Rockhampton. Image: Alamy.

One of many Big Bulls romaing the streets of Rockhampton. Image: Alamy. 


The Big Cane Toad, Sarina, QLD

48/46 Bruce Hwy, Sarina, Queensland

About 35 km south of Mackay lies Sarina, home to Buffy, otherwise known as the Big Cane Toad. Initially made for a sugar festival float, Buffy made his way to the main street of Sarina, in a nod to the region’s cane farming history.

The name comes from a Name-The-Frog competition in ‘98, with Buffy slang for the cane toad’s official scientific name, the ‘bufo marinus.’ So hop along for a visit – it’s toad-ally worth it! 


Big Cane Toad Sarina. Image: Alamy.

We wonder if he wears open-toad sandals? Image: Alamy. 


The Big Golden Gumboot, QLD

Cnr Hort and Butler Streets, Tully, Queensland 

Just 25 minutes inland from Mission Beach near Cairns you'll find the Tully Golden Gumboot. Known as Australia's wettest town, the boot is an homage to the town of Tully's record rainfall, which hit 7900mm in 1950. 

Standing at 7.5 metres tall, the boot has an internal staircase inscribed with information and images about Tully, where visitors can climb to a viewing platform and great photo from the top. But as the bottom is stuck firmly to the ground, we can safely say this is one boot that was not made for walkin'.


Golden Gumboot. Image: Alamy

Tully's Golden Gumboot comes with a bonus giant frog. Image: Alamy.


The Big Cassowary, Mission Beach, QLD

32 Wongaling Beach Rd, Wongaling Beach, Queensland

Towering the skies at five metres high, The Big Cassowary is an ode to the coastal town’s famous bird species that roam throughout the town and the UNESCO-listed Daintree Rainforest.

Located in front of the mall at Wongaling Beach, this is one cassowary that, unlike its live flightless friends, is safe to pet – so no need to cassoworry!


Big Cassowary. Image: Alamy

No need to be casso-wary - the statue won't bite. Image: Alamy.


The Big Mango, Bowen, QLD

Bruce Highway, Bowen, Queensland

Atop the Whitsundays' pristine beaches and magnificent reef, you’ll find The Big Mango of Bowen. Ten metres high and weighing in at seven tonnes, the ‘Bowen Mango’ in North Queensland was built in 2022 as an homage to the region’s booming mango district.

Visiting is a chance to for a photo op at the top of The Whitsundays, a stop at the local info centre, and a chance to enjoy some mango sorbet at the end of your Big Things adventure. 


The Big Mango looks good enough to eat! Image: Getty.

The Big Mango looks good enough to eat! Image: Getty.


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