The Big Owl
Belconnen, Australian Capital Territory
For those readers overseas who are not aware, the Australian Capital Territory is the home of the Australian Federal parliament and of Australia’s capital city, Canberra. The head of the ACT is known as the Chief Minister.
In 2011 outgoing Chief Minister Jon Stanhope unveiled the latest public art installation, an 8 metre fibreglass owl on Belconnen Way at the main entrance to the Belconnen town centre. Melbourne sculptor Bruce Armstrong chose an owl as his subject because it is traditionally linked to wisdom, and . . . wait for this . . . a group of owls is known as a parliament. It cost $400,000! Ouch.
Unkind Canberrans have referred to the sculpture as the Penis Owl in that from certain angles, especially the back, it is said to resemble a huge penis . . .
Maybe it is apt when one remembers the old joke:
Q: What is the difference between a cactus and a caucus?
A: A cactus has all the pricks on the outside.
Woman and Child
Aileron, Northern Territory
Located about 150 kilometres north of Alice Springs is the town of Aileron.
The Anmatjere Woman And Child statue is located behind the art gallery at Aileron:
Nearby at the top of Aileron Hill stands the statue of Anmatjere Man, also known as The Big Aboriginal Hunter, and he is big, I mean big . . .
The statues were erected in 2005 to increase tourism.
The Big Cane Toad
Who would want to erect a statue to such a repulsive object??
From the Mackay Region tourism website:
His scientific name is Bufo Marinus, but the locals have nicknamed him 'Buffy'.
Situated in the town centre of Sarina, approximately 35 kilometres south of Mackay, Buffy is a large Cane Toad statue. It was originally crafted out of paper mache in 1983 to become a float for a sugar festival. It was later cast in fibreglass to become a fixture in the town, in recognition of Sarina's cane farming history.
Buffy is located on Broad Street, which is also the Bruce Highway, the main road that passes through the middle of the town of Sarina. It sits in-between the north and south bound lanes.
Facilities close to Buffy include angled parking, public toilets, a gazebo, rubbish bins and picnic tables under trees for shade, making it a lovely area to stop for a picnic, and a photo with this iconic big statue.
Cane toads were introduced into Australia in 1935 to try to deal with the cane beetle, which was harmful to sugar cane. Bad idea. The cane toads multiplied and multiplied. They killed local wildlife both directly and indirectly, in the latter case by poisoning animals which ate them. They have adapted to climate conditions and have spread, including to NSW. Oh, and they didn’t make an impact on the cane beetles.
Take the time to have a look at:
The Big Captain Cook
No, wait, that's the wrong photo, this is the right one. . .
Located on the Cook Highway as you enter Cairns from the north, the Big Captain Cook is a huge 14m high structure that has even been voted as Australia’s No. 1 Big Thing in one online poll.
The conception of the Big Captain Cook started as an advertising gimmick that would be used to promote the Endeavour Inn. When the plans were presented to the Council, the measurements were mistakenly read as feet and inches instead of metres and it was approved. Building went underway and needless to say, once it was unveiled in 1972, it was a lot bigger than expected. The Endeavour Inn was later renamed as the Captain Cook Backpackers Hostel.
In case you were wondering, the statue is not motioning to ‘Heil Hitler’. The design is based on a 1902 painting of Captain Cook landing at Botany Bay and commanding his crew to not shoot the approaching aborigines. Some locals believe that the statue is trying to hold back the barrage of tourists that visit Cairns every year.
Over the years, the statue has been repainted many times in a variety of colours, but the most controversial announcement came from the owner in 2010, who wanted to repaint the statue to look like George Washington. Cairns locals protested and the mayor said it would be “un-Cairns-like”. To make 2010 an even worse year for the Big Cook, plans to widen the Cook Highway meant that the statue might need to be moved, which put it at risk of crumbling due to ‘concrete cancer’.
The Captain Cook Backpackers Hostel was demolished in the mid-1990s and the surrounding trees are almost all gone too. These days, the lonely Big Captain Cook is fenced off in his own vacant lot, awaiting his fate.