A road trip of Australia’s fiberglass monuments
The Big Redback Spider
If there’s one thing Aussies fear more than boats full of traumatized refugees, it’s spiders. And the infamous redback reigns supreme as Australia’s king of eight legs. Imagine then, how terrifying people must find this week’s Big Thing, an enormous fibreglass arachnid perched on top of an old outdoor dunny, attempting to devour it.
This charmingly Australian (and deeply disturbing) tableau can be found in the suburb of Eight Mile Plains, in Brisbane’s south. Yes, that’s right, folks – we’ve finally hit Bris Vegas, which means we’re coming very close to the point at which out road trip began.
But back to this week’s fiberglass guest of honour. In Slim Newton’s famous 1962 song, the redback was on the toilet seat, but this one is considerably more ambitious than that. No doubt her impressive 3m x 3m dimensions have certainly helped, allowing her to virtually encase the entire outhouse, making it look like breakfast. For sheer dramatic effect and creep value, this Big Thing often makes it onto the ‘Best Big Things in Australia’ lists that the internet is awash with. It’s certainly more memorable than a banana or an orange.
It therefore seems amazing that no-one knows for sure who originally created the Big Redback Spider or, even more intriguingly, why. She first appeared in 1996, almost overnight and has since become a local icon. In 2003 she was relocated a couple of metres due to widening of the adjacent South East Freeway. These days she’s missing one of her legs and has rust on her fangs, but she’s still as eye-catching as ever, so it hardly seems to matter.
There’s no doubt that this Big Thing conjures up images from those cheesy B-grade horror/drama flicks from the ‘70s. You know the drill – a colony of mutant spiders turned enormous from radioactive waste… a hapless group of second-rate actors trapped in a nearby resort with nothing but their wits to survive being eaten … one of the gusts slips outside to use the toilet and suddenly come the screams… and the horrified hand-wringing, head-clutching and bad acting of the survivors as they realize another one of their number has been eaten…
It really does write itself, doesn’t it?