Only in OZ #22 – The Big Malleefowl, Patchewollock, Victoria

Last Updated on March 3, 2017 by Red Nomad OZ

The Big Malleefowl overlooking the Patchewollock Railway Station, Victoria
The Big Malleefowl overlooking the Patchewollock Railway Station, Victoria

The insatiable curiosity that leads me off the main road to explore an interesting sounding place or rumoured oddity isn’t always rewarded.

The Big Malleefowl sizes up against the camper trailer!
The Big Malleefowl sizes up against the camper trailer!

But in the tiny town of Patchewollock, deep in the Victorian Mallee and just off the Hopetoun/Walpeup road, I hit paydirt.

Big time!

Unmarked on any tourist literature (that I’d seen) Patchewollock hosts one of the most bizarre Australian Big Thing I’ve ever seen.

So far, anyway.

The Big Malleefowl, constructed almost entirely from painted corrugated iron, is perched near the restored railway station and goods shed, classified by the National Trust. Thanks to the decades of relentless country Australia de-railing by successive governments, the trains no longer run.

The beautifully patterned Big Malleefowl, Patchewollock, Victoria
The beautifully patterned Big Malleefowl, Patchewollock, Victoria

And neither does the Big Malleefowl. A little unsteady on its feet, the orange netting around its claws stops people adults children from attempting to climb it.

The Big Malleefowl against the backdrop of its home town, Patchewollock
The Big Malleefowl against the backdrop of its home town, Patchewollock

The heartland of the vulnerable Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata)ย is unsurprisingly the Mallee country and nearby Wyperfeld National Park is a known habitat. This notoriously shy bird incubates its eggs on the ground in a large mound of earth and leaves, so is therefore under threat from both bushfires and foxes, despite it’s protective colouration that acts as camouflage.

Or perhaps the Big Malleefowl was designed toย echo its megafauna ancestor, Progura naracoortensis

Whether its unknown maker/s intended it to be male or female is uncertain. And with no distinguishing characteristics between them, I’ll wait for an expert chicken sexer to make a determination!

I think they've captured its expression very well, don't you?!?!
I think they’ve captured its expression very well, don’t you?!?!

But whatever its gender, I suspect Outback Patchewollock has scored itself an exclusive. While Malleefowl are found in other areas of Australia, I’d be amazed to find that anyone else had the foresight and vision to actually make a Big One!

And because it’s an Australian endemic, I’m betting you won’t see a Big Malleefowl anywhere else in the world!

Now THAT’S worth visiting Patchewollock for!!

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  1. One of my favourite BIG Things in Aus!
    The FIDO Dog in Fairfield is another marvel of someone’s hard work.
    Damn thing can be heard panting too at times!

    1. Haha, love BIG things Megan – this one is just so bizarre. Apparently since I spotted it it’s got a mate and now some chicks!! I’ll be sure and check out FIDO one day – hadn’t heard of that one before, but it sounds awesome ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. Turn off the Mallee Highway (B12) at Walpeup onto the Hopetoun/Walpeup Rd (C247) and head south for ~34 km, then turn right onto the C248 – it’s a couple of km to Patchewollock and the BIG Mallee Fowl!

  2. @patchegal12 – WOW! I can’t wait to see them in Patchewollock without their orange netting!!! Maybe even later this year … Pilchard is jealous as hell of all the mallee fowl on the roadside, but something tells me they’ll be gone by the time we visit! As for your pysanka and giant sausage – I’ll raise you the Big Goanna in Crystal Brook SA, and the big woolbales in Hamilton, Victoria! They also tell me there’s a big wine cask … gotta find that!!

  3. @redNomadoz, great blog on our NEW local attraction. Am happy to report that the horrible orange netting has been removed and the birds have been fully erected and now take pride and place in our home town. They were officially unveiled in October with the the ‘Year of the Farmers’ festival and for all you blog readers out there, I believe talk around town is that the festival will again be happening this year (will try and keep you posted). I love the new addition to our town, and more recently it appears that so too do the real Mallee Hens. On the road just north of Patchewollock, visitors have counted up to 80+ mallee hens on the road. It is simply amazing check out ABC’s picture

    @Dianne.. it’s a long way from Patchewollock to Alberta, Canada, but am pleased to report on a visit last year I was lucky enough to visit both the giant pysanka in Vegreville and the giant sausage in Mundare….. Some things you just have to do!!

  4. @Saucy Kod – The other question is does this Canadian girl WANT to come across a giant malleefowl?!?! But I hope the answer’s yes!!
    @SFlaGuy – HHHMMMmmm… maybe you’ve uncovered the reason why it’s in the middle of nowhere!!!
    @Joan – Luckily, you don’t have to choose! They’re BOTH cool!!!
    @Liz Nut – I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface downunder! Plenty more to find!!
    @Mina fotostunder – That’s what I thought too!!
    @Mrs Tuna – Ah, I would if it were mine to ship …
    @Becky Jane – That’s what I thought too! Then I thought it needed a wider audience, so I’ve given it one!
    @Ronal – I’ve seen the pineapple, but not the sheep. And there’s plenty more just waiting to be discovered!!
    @Marianne – That’s Australia all over, isn’t it?!?!
    @Jim – Yeah, that’s something you won’t find in Sydney!!!
    @Ken G – Sure is!! And it almost looks hollow …
    @Cloudy – Thank you! So glad you came to visit – come back anytime!@

  5. @Ann O’Dyne – Yes, I take my hat off to them. I think there’s a similar program in WA – with any luck they’ll manage to preserve this unique Aussie bird!
    @Johanna – I’m glad you have that reaction after reading this – a lot may say it’s all too weird for words!!!
    @FruitCake – Yep, that’s the Aussie way!! Funny how corrugated iron’s uses range from dunnies to Big Things! Who knew it was so versatile?!
    @PDP – I love the idea of megafauna, and it’s nice to find this remnant of an earlier age …!!!
    @Grandma Bonnie – Thank you, and look forward to seeing you again!
    @alissa apel – I’m sure a toy peacock would be easier to manage than this monster bird!! And WAAAAY less scary!!
    @Nature Footstep – Yes! I wouldn’t want to be the first victim to a giant Malleefowl!
    @Liz – Haha, we are known for weird stuff, are we not?!?!
    @Miriam – Even more fun is getting everyone’s reaction to it!!!

  6. @magsx2 – I hope I’m giving it the exposure it deserves!!! It was really unexpected!!
    @Fun60 – Couldn’t agree more!! And it’s so much the better for being in such an odd spot, I’m one of the few people in the world who’s seen it!!
    @Dianne – OK, I’ll bite! What’s a ‘pysanka’?? Send me a pic!!!
    @Filip and Kristel – You’re right – I didn’t expect it! I could actually be the only person in the world who’s written about it!!!!
    @Windsmoke – Here’s a challenge for you – write an ode to this critter!!!!
    @darlin – That’s why I go out there!!! This kind of thing makes it all worthwhile (that either makes me an adventurer or a sad loser, not sure which!!!!)
    @Leanne – And I bet he didn’t even cost that much to make …
    @Alessandra – I think the problem is one of balance!! One little push and he’d fall forward …
    @Indrani – It’s so great to find such a unique object in such an off-beat place!

  7. Hi all and thanx for the comments. I’ve had 9 days (NINE DAYS!!!!!) without internet access and am now back on line. Sorry for the delay in responding to your comments which, as always, are much appreciated!
    @Carole – I just HAD to visit a place with a name like that!! The Big Malleefowl was an unexpected bonus!!
    @MJWC – It’s so weird it’s fantastic!! I’d love to meet the maker one day …
    @Andrew – HHHMMMmmm… I’m getting a feeling you’re not too keen on Patchewollock!!! I believe Malleefowl are also found in WA! Who knew, huh?!?!
    @Jane & Lance – I felt like ripping it off! And but for the potential headline ‘small child killed when falling from top of giant mallefowl’, would have!!
    @diane b – yes, it IS art, isn’t it? Not many have such an appreciation for our BIG THINGS!!!
    @Kath – I’m sure I don’t know what the standard malleefowl facial expression is … But maybe the orange netting is the only thing tethering it to this earth!
    @TMWH – I’m sure the first tale it would tell would be for someone to get the orange netting the hell off!
    @Beach Bum – Biggest ball of twine, huh? You US folk REALLY know how to enjoy yourselves!!!
    @Rubye – Sssshhh! Don’t tell Pilchard! He’ll be over there in a flash to check them out!!!

  8. Nice Post… There so many other great sculptures in Australia … Theres this huge sheep which is actually a souvenir shop .. then there this huge pineapple between sydney and goldcoast…

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  9. Over here on the other side of the planet something like this would never fly. By that I mean there would be so much regulation, complaints, lawsuits, and media attention it would never be built. Not to mention one of our little hurricanes would sent it off to the next county so I guess in that way it would fly.

  10. See, this is what I love – unknown, now known, in a area called Patchewollock – what are the chances of this Canadian Girl ever coming across this great bird sculpture – without our adventerous Red Aussie -simply amazing – TOO NEAT.

  11. That’s really cool! Thanks for sharing! My 6 year old loves birds. The first one he noticed (a peacock) was when he was a few years old. I got him a peacock puppet from Folkmanis. It’s pretty sweet!

  12. That is a beautiful sculpture. The Malleefowl must be an awesome bird. Thank you for stopping by my blog. I will be back to read more. Your site is very interesting.

  13. The things you come across in the outback are extraordinary Red. Looks like we both had thing about Australian megafauna today. I’d say from it’s expression and the fact that it’s a normally shy bird, that it’s looking a wee bit embarrassed about all the attention!

  14. foxes eat their eggs and so …
    Volunteers are involved in the annual survey of approximately 1200 Malleefowl mounds located in 35 sites …”

    I house-sat for some people who were volunteers.
    the sculpture is fabulous, thanks Red.

  15. I confess that that big bird looks scary to me… I would not try to clime on it myself, and that orange fence reads DANGER, like it is about to collapse or something ๐Ÿ™‚


  16. He’s a beautie! You have a happy knack of finding some unusual things off the beaten track, that’s for sure ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. What fun! They sure have that critter roped down!
    You need to come to Alberta and see the giant pysanka in Vegreville, or the giant sausage in Mundare, or the giant Perogy (on a fork, no less) in Glendon. And that’s just a few of the giants we have here. All worth a trip to the frozen north!

  18. Hi,
    Wow, that is just amazing, they have done a wonderful job building this bird, not bad at all. A fantastic find in the outback, they really should put it in a tourist book or something, I am sure it would bring some people to the area.

  19. Well Red, I’ve certainly never seen one over here. However, we do have tiny birds that lay their eggs in the middle of the yard and they somehow survive. I forget their names.

    This big guy is definitely something else!

  20. I’m betting you won’t see a Big Malleefowl anywhere else in the world!

    Yeah, but somewhere up in Indiana there is suppose to be the biggest ball of twine in the world.

    But I like the bird so much better.

  21. I LOVE that bird!!!! It has character, you can just tell. If it could talk, I’ll bet the stories would fascinate us all.

  22. The humungous Mallee fowl seems to be squinting slightly – too much sun and and an understandable dislike of the orange netting at its feet?

  23. I agree it is a good piece of country art and should have a better looking fence around it to stop ignorant people from climbing it. What a fabulous name for a town, Patchewollock.

  24. Hello Red:
    Simply wonderful. But such a pity that it is necessary to surround this piece of sculpture with the orange netting which really does detract from it.

  25. I am going to find something positive to say about Patchewollock. The sculpture is interesting. Mallee Fowl are very interesting. Mallee Fowl are found in areas other than the Mallee?

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