There is something lodged so deep in the Australian psyche that it seems intrinsically rational and yet it is impossible to explain. Our love of Big Things.
From my first trip to Queensland with my parents that included a stop at the Big Pineapple in Nambour, to a banana split at Coffs Harbour’s Big Banana, or a petrol stop at Goulbourn and a picture with the Big Marino, Big Things weasel their way into our road trips, our photo albums and the fabric of our lives. Ok, I might be getting a bit too philosophical now for what is really just a creative use of fibreglass and spray paint in an attempt to sell more cans of soft drink and potato cakes from the Bain Marie.
The Big Strawberry is in Koonoomoo. Don’t feel bad if you have never heard of it. I’m sure it is only its Big Thing that puts it on the map. But for the record it’s in northern Victoria, near Cobram, at the Victorian end of the Newell Highway.
Photo opportunities are what most people visit a Big Thing for. The Big Strawberry has this in the bag with a sign in front of the fibreglass structure featuring a roller-skating strawberry with a hole cut out for you to poke your head through and become the strawberry. I have no idea what roller-skating has to do with strawberries.
And then there is the produce. Punnets of fresh strawberries of course and strawberry jam, but also liquors and sauces. And strangely lots of pumpkins. They must have been in season.
But it was the tacky souvenirs that really caught my eye. Row after row of smiling strawberry toys, oversized pencils and dedicated strawberry slicers, because using a knife to cut up your strawberries would be silly. The Big Strawberry was packed with things that you would never need but can’t help buying to give to someone else… just to see if they’ll keep it because it was a gift.
We have a term to describe something that is so annihilating in its corniness that it becomes cool; ‘craptacular’. Big Things fall firmly into the category of craptacular, overwhelming in their ridiculousness and ultimately pointless. But I still can’t help but stop, get a photo and buy some jam.