A road trip of Australia’s fiberglass monuments
The Big Stockwhip
Is it possible to write about the world’s largest stockwhip without using phrases like “get cracking” and “whip around”? Let’s see.
(Damn, too late already!)
We’re about 60kms south of Darwin at Mick’s Whips homestead, a 20-acre whip-themed property where you can see the most spectacular whip-cracking demonstrations in the country. Professional whip maker Mick Denigan has been teaching ordinary folk how to crack like experts for years. He also exports thousands of hand-made whips to people including Bill Gates, actor Keeanu Reeves and former US president, George Bush. He also provided all the whips in Baz Luhrmann’s 2008 movie, Australia, placing both Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman at serious risk of being upstaged by their props.
And then of course, there’s the Big Stockwhip, which does a mighty fine job of upstaging all the real ones. This is a 7m high, 20m long steel replica of a real stockwhip that curls proudly over the main gates of Mick’s Whips. Cattle get nervous just looking at it. The structure is painted in the Territory’s colours of black, red and ochre and took three months to construct. It was officially unveiled in 2003 by former National Party leader and patron of the Northern Territory Whipcrackers’ Association, Tim Fischer.
As impressive as the Big Stockwhip is, it still doesn’t quite prepare people for Mick’s spectacular demonstrations, especially when he performs them at night with whips that are on fire. He also produces ‘whip art’, with paint-covered whips that are lashed at a canvas, and has written a novel called The Whip Cracker, which could well be the title of his autobiography. As a licensed crocodile harvester, Mick also once made a crocodile guitar strap for Bob Dylan, yet another famous name on his clientele list.
Compared to the other states, the Northern Territory is a bit thin on the ground when it comes to Big Things. Leave it to a performing, croc harvesting, whip-making artist to add to the modest list.