THE NAKED CITY: Sydney, It’s Time To Think Big!

THE NAKED CITY: Sydney, It’s Time To Think Big!
Image: Sources: TripAdvisor, VisitNSW

Recent news that Queensland has reopened its iconic Big Pineapple on the Sunshine Coast after months of painstaking restoration has again sparked calls for a similar ‘big thing’, right here in the city of Sydney. For years we have suffered both the embarrassment and envy of not having a structure to rival the numerous oversized items that are now synonymous with so many cities and towns throughout the country.

Think of the amazing Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, the enormous Golden Guitar in Tamworth, the massive Big Prawn in West Ballina and my personal favourite, the incredible concrete, brutalist monolith that is The Big Merino in Goulburn. There’s nothing like chowing down on a foot long roll from the adjoining Subway and admiring the sheer majesty of this gigantic beast.

For decades many city based Australians have snubbed their noses at these gargantuan creations as hicksville kitsch, with some civic planners vowing they would never allow a 600 kilogram ugg boot anywhere in their precinct (for the record you’ll find a pair of them in Thornton, NSW). However, gradually the entire country has started to warm to the big ‘uns, realising that their existence had become embedded in the Australian psyche – part pisstake, part celebration and part ‘why bloody not!’.

Walk around the city of Sydney and you’ll find plenty of large imposing statues – unfortunate remnants of colonization like Captain Cook and Queen Victoria. Sure they’re big but when it comes to true ‘Australian big’, they just don’t count. And some, such as the statue of Prince Albert in Queen’s Square, are just plain ugly. Who the hell was Prince Albert anyway, apart from some kinky English geezer into genital piercings?

Some might suggest that the menacing wild boar fronting Sydney Hospital is a tad on the big size, likewise the ‘bonds of friendship’ First Fleet Memorial that resembles a pair of interlocking donuts in the Jesse Street Gardens. These are works of art designed to commemorate an event or in the case of the Macquarie Street boar, solicit donations from the general public. As important as they might be, they wouldn’t get a look in stacked up against the Big Boxing Crocodile in Humpty Doo or The Big Lollipop in Ravensthorpe WA.

Clearly when it comes to all things ‘big’, Sydney has been left in the wake but there is still plenty of time to make amends. In the short term we could even look to borrowing some of the more unusual big things currently scattered around the country. I’m sure some of the regional towns that now house items such as The Big Ned Kelly would be delighted to see them fronting the Sydney Opera House or Luna Park for six months or more – with a full acknowledgment of their origin.

Imagine for example if the good folk of Goulburn and the local Subway agreed to The Big Merino spending a year ‘grazing’ in Sydney’s Domain. Fitted with wheels it would create tremendous media interest, worldwide in fact, as it was towed slowly up the Hume Highway. Clover Moore might have missed out on her Golden Arch over George Street but The Giant Whale from the Eucla roadhouse on the Eyre Highway, beached on the steps of the Sydney Town Hall, would make a wonderful environmental statement.

That’s the short term but surely we should look to building something really big for the years to come – a definitive, crowd pleasing, absolutely humungous piece of tourist bait that would generate millions in t-shirts, coffee cups and other souvenirs. There would be a competition of course for the best ideas and even a popular vote to decide just what item of classic supersized Australiana we should embrace.

We are bound to get suggestions for The Big Bin Chicken, The Big Chico Roll, The Big Weetabix, The Big Tim Tam and even a controversial Big Discarded Syringe – none of which are likely to really capture the public’s imagination. The Big Vegemite Sandwich, hanging loosely from the Harbour Bridge could be a hot contender and why not a piece of every dinky di big thing moulded into an amorphous towering structure – ‘The Big Fuck All’.

Finally Sydneysiders still throw a lot of trash onto the streets, even when a garbage bin is only a few metres away. Let’s build our own Tower Of Babel, constructed entirely out of old fast food wrappers, beer cans, cigarette butts and anything else scooped up from the footpaths and gutters. It could be THE BIG BABEL or just THE BIG TRASH HEAP. It would reach for the stars, illuminated at night and only stop when it became an aviation hazard. It might be rubbish but it will certainly be BIG!

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