A road trip of Australia’s fiberglass monuments
The Big Pink Buffalo
These days, the colour pink is firmly associated with breast cancer research, and even cricket teams will happily don pink outfits to help raise awareness for this very worthy cause.
But pink hasn’t always generated such widespread public kudos, and no-one knows this better than the Big Pink Buffalo. Over the years this stoic Big Thing, which lives in the Darwin suburb of Winnellie, has endured scorn, derision, controversy and even homelessness – and all because of his colour.
Like several other Big Things we’ve already met in our travels, the Big Pink Buffalo began his life as a papier mache float in a local parade. It was 1978 when he made his very first public appearance at Darwin’s Bougainvillea Festival, although he wasn’t originally pink, but grey. After the Festival, the owners of the nearby Buffalo Shed tourist shop thought the 7.5m long, 5m high structure would make a great mascot for their business, so they adopted the Buffalo, concreted him and even gave him wheels. He was also given a name – ‘Lefty’ – which is rumoured to have come from the fact that his left testicle was larger than his right.
In 1984, new owners of the business decided to paint Lefty pink, so that he wouldn’t blend in with the grey shed that stood behind him. For some reason however, this change of colour quickly proved to be highly controversial, with many locals expressing their outrage on talkback radio (and as everyone knows, callers to talkback radio are always right). Maybe it was the combination of Lefty’s name and colour that so raised the ire of these staunchly conservative souls. Suddenly he seemed to be making a suspiciously political statement – Equal Rights For Gay Buffaloes, or something just as threatening. While the controversy raged, someone even painted Lefty grey again in the middle of the night.
By the time the Buffalo Shed closed its doors for good in 1996, Lefty was proudly and defiantly pink again, but the demise of the business also meant he was now homeless. The outgoing owner, Bob Davies, had no idea how to dispose of a 7 tonne concrete buffalo, and at one stage even considered explosives. Fortunately for Lefty, this nightmarish scenario never materialised and instead he was auctioned for $2,500 to a used car dealership, which some people might argue was an even worse fate than being blown up.
Lefty has since become a much-loved Darwin icon, having gradually won over his critics with his patience, tenacity and refusal to be anything less than the Big Pink Buffalo that he so proudly is. Quite appropriate for Darwin actually, as it really has been a case of survival of the fittest (or rather, the pinkest).