Tag Archives: big pineapple

Big Things – a taste of Nostalgia

19 Mar

big banana 1972In my book, ‘Arkie’s Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing’, my protagonist Arkie and her friend Haruko are sometimes bemused and sometimes captivated by the Big Things they encounter on their journey. While they agree that some Big Things are better than others, it turns out that even the most lacklustre have their attractions. The Big Pelican has eyelashes to die for and a rather flirtatious look about it and inside The Big Shell, Arkie can hear the roar of distant seas. The Big Prawn is rather intimidating. A twenty-five metre prawn would be enough to make me flee the water forever, Arkie reflects.

While Big Things first started in America it is probably safe to say that no other country has embraced them with quite the gusto of Australia.  Big Things were originally conceived of as extra-large agricultural products, designed to show travellers how country folk live. They were, in effect, farming theme parks. But that original intention later expanded to embrace practically anything that could be reproduced in a super-sized form.

Big things kicked off in Australia in the 60s with the Big Scotsman, The Big Banana, the Big Stubby and the Big Staircase.  While some folks were sporting Afros and peace symbols, eating pork with prunes and carrying flowers, others were busy building Big Things.

The 70s was the decade of pet rocks, hot pants, pineapple cheese balls, curly perms and platform shoes. It also brought us the Big Captain Cook, the Big Crab, the Big Macadamia Nut, the Big Pineapple, the Big Penguin, the Big Mower and the Big Cow. Quirky times.

Some will remember the 80s as being all about pedal pushers, Rubik’s Cube, prawn and avocado cocktail, big hair and acid-wash jeans. But, more importantly, this decade also brought us nineteen big things including the Big Bulls, the Big Mandarin, the Big Avocado and the Big Chook. It’s a wonder people got anything done at all in the 80s with all those Big Things to build.

To me there is something quite surrealistic about Big Things. They raise questions such as, why would you build a Big Cow? Or a Big Prawn for that matter? I suspect that the answer is, Why not? As Arkie says, they are an opportunity to reflect, Magnified to many times its normal size, a cow forces me to consider the essence of ‘cowness’. Cows of course are sacred to Hindus and are often revered as a symbol of wealth and abundance in other religions too. Is building a Big Cow therefore a subconscious effort to call forth good fortune?

Even if you don’t believe, like Arkie, that Big Things are deeply meaningful, you may still think, as I do, that there is something weird and sweet about them. I don’t know about you, but somehow they always make me smile.

PS. The photo is taken circa 1972 of my sister and I with my mother at the Big Banana.

This blog originally appeared at Starts at Sixty.

Sometimes a banana is just a banana

6 Sep

The part of the world I live in is great for all sorts of reasons; surf, lifestyle, sun, people and… big things.  For obscure reasons, I recently did a tour of big things in my area. For the record, these included the big; Banana, Prawn, Knight, Avocado, Pie, Redback Spider, Pineapple, Macadamia, Cow, Shell, Pelican and Lawnmower, yes that’s right, lawnmower.

So, what was the highlight of this adventure? Well, there were in fact, many highlights. Sadly (or not so sadly) big things are closing down at a great rate. Ballina’s Big Prawn is just a shell and the Big Stubby, so fondly remembered by visitors to Tewantin, has made way for development. The closure of the Big Pineapple was breaking news on my journey. A local newspaper displayed a sad picture of a family who had driven all the way from Sydney to go to the Big Pineapple, only to find out it was closed. I guess they just turned around and drove all the way back again.

The Big Macadamia is next to the Big Pineapple, but it is hard to find. After much searching, we saw its peak, protruding over the forest like a lost Inca temple. This intrepid traveller trekked down through long grass for a closer look but got chased out by a tractor-riding guard. You can’t buy excitement like that.

The Big Banana is fabulous in a totally kitsch and, it has to be said, slightly kinky way. I felt like I might have lost my way and ended up in a Kings Cross sex shop. Is there really anyone out there who buys plastic moulded boxes to protect their bananas? How could you pull one of these out in public, without feeling like you were making an inappropriately raunchy statement? As Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but usually…

All these big things gave me a nostalgic yearning for the 70s, a time when kitsch was big, when we were happy to be amazed by the view from the top of a pineapple’s crown, when a ride on a train through a banana plantation was the height of excitement.

Ah, the 70s; kaftans, flares, and strange food, but that’s another story.