A road trip of Australia’s fibreglass monuments
It seems a bit of an anticlimax to finish our epic road tour of concrete and fibreglass with a Big Thing we’ve already seen several different versions of – but there you have it… life’s messy. Introducing our very last Big Thing: the Big Apple in the southern Queensland town of Thulimbah. We’ve virtually come full circle. We’re now only a three-hour drive to Byron Bay in NSW, where our journey first began many moons ago with the Big Avocado.
As well as being one of several Big Apples in Australia, this particular Big Apple has had several different lives, been painted in different colours and lived in different towns. It’s also constantly being confused with that other “Big Apple” on the other side of the world – the City That Never Sleeps. If there was ever a Big Thing that was a prime candidate for an identity crisis, this was it.
First constructed in 1978, the Big Apple is made of steel and fibreglass and is 4m tall with a 4.5m diameter. It was originally a bright shiny green Granny Smith, and lived outside the local servo in the town of Stanthorpe, about 20 minutes down the road from Thulimbah. When the site was developed in 2003, the Apple took a redundancy package and a temporary retirement, reappearing not long afterwards as a dark red Royal Gala, in Thulimbah. This move also pushed up the Apple’s socio-economic rating as its new position was promoting a business called Vincenzo’s – an upmarket deli/wine/gift shop showcasing the region’s produce. A far cry from being outside a BP servo.
Meanwhile, it seems that the town of Stanthorpe has never quite gotten over the loss of its very own Big Thing. Ever since the Big Apple relocated, Stanthorpe’s local Chamber of Commerce has been talking about installing a Big Thermometer, to celebrate the fact that the town is officially Queensland’s coldest place. In June 2011, Southern Downs Regional Council invited local artists to submit designs for its “iconic Climatic Art Piece”.
It seems that there’s almost no place in our wide brown land that can resist the prospect of having its very own resident Big Thing. And there’s almost no limit to the lengths (or logic) to which they’ll go to realise their fibreglass dreams.