The Big Prawn
The Big Prawn Leanne Albert

Sometimes big is better on a road trip

AUSSIES are good at road trips. We don't baulk at a 1000km drive from one destination to the next, and I think it helps that we have a good sense of humour.

Next time you are out on the road, try spotting one of the "big things" towns have built as homage to the big road trip tradition.

Like giant pins on a map, you can mark your journey with a selfie outside the giant guitar or merino, pineapple or banana or any of the big sculptures towns use to draw in tourists.

A tourist town worth its salt will have a big thing, and if they are serious about their big thing they will have made it look as ridiculous as possible.

Ballina, on the North Coast, has excelled at this challenge and proved that big tourist icons have not gone the way of the Leyland Brothers to become simply relics of another era.

Their famous Big Prawn, built in 1989, is an icon of the town's fishing and prawning industry heritage, but by 2009 it had fallen into disrepair; a pale, sun-bleached version of its former self and facing certain demolition.

When the council announced the prawn would go to the big ocean in the sky, such was the outcry among locals that a campaign was started to save the giant crustacean.

The Big Prawn underwent a $400,000 makeover in 2012 and now sits a resplendent 16 metres off the ground welcoming customers to the town - and the Bunnings hardware store.

While cheaper air travel has increasingly competed with the old-school road trip's appeal, the Big Prawn has proved that big things still have big pulling power.

The Ballina Prawn Festival, created to celebrate the prawn's renaissance, recently drew 20,000 people to the town - big numbers in any small town's books.

Megan Kinninment blogs the offbeat (and giant prawns) at www.seekerofthelostarts.com.


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