The Controversial Crustacean! Big Prawn Ballina, New South Wales

Last Updated on March 3, 2017 by Red Nomad OZ

Good enough to EAT!  Big Prawn, Ballina, New South Wales
Good enough to EAT!  Big Prawn, Ballina, New South Wales

Once upon a time – WAAAAAAY back in the dim, distant world of 1989 – Ballina’s tail-less BIG Prawn sat atop the West Ballina transit centre and restaurant. Inside, visitors could climb up into its head and view a distorted world through the thick perspex of its concave eye. Over time, as businesses came and went below, the passive prawn’s exotic colouring faded from the original cooked-prawn red to pink, then finally a ghastly, ghostly white.

The Big Prawn in the Good Old Days ... early 1990's
The Big Prawn in the Good Old Days … early 1990’s

20 years later, after reports it was suffering from crustacean concrete cancer, the local council approved its demolition.

What were they thinking??

Yet, while some – especially those with good taste and refinement – see Australia’s notorious Big Things as trashy and tacky kitsch, for better or worse they’re a part of the Aussie culture.

Which should give non-Australians a disturbing idea of our national condition … but I digress!

To us Aussies, it’s quite normal to wander through a landscape awash with giant fibreglass and concrete objects that almost – but not quite – represent actual fruit, animals and people.

But to actually destroy one?

Our inbuilt nationalistic tendency to defend the underdog kicks in!

That’s possibly why nearby coastal town Yamba’s 2012 takeover bid was thwarted and the shrinking shrimp received a stay of execution demolition order!

Locals from Ballina, in Northern New South Wales and an hour’s drive south of the Queensland border, weren’t going to give up their placid prawn without a fight.

After all, watching the Prawn Trawlers head down the Richmond River, across the churning waters of its treacherous Bar and out through its mouth to sea for a night of fishing is one of the joys of walking Ballina’s twin breakwalls. It’s even more exciting watching the trawlers return to cross the bar through a mountainous swell in seas so heavy I’ll never to complain about the price of seafood again!

Prawn trawler heading down the Richmond River at Ballina, New South Wales
Prawn trawler heading down the Richmond River at Ballina, New South Wales

With Ballina’s inaugural Prawn festival date of November 2013 fast approaching, it somehow seems right for the Big Prawn Ballina to remain.

So when hardware giant Bunnings tapped into the community outrage with a masterful blend of goodwill, expedience and positive publicity by writing a new lease of life for the controversial crustacean into its development proposal for the site on which it stood, the shiftless shrimp’s future was assured.

Big Prawn MAGIC!  Ballina, New South Wales
Big Prawn MAGIC!  Ballina, New South Wales

And in a lucky break for the Big Thing loving public – and quite possibly Ballina’s international tourist industry – the Big Prawn Ballina has not only been preserved, but given a makeover.

Now, after being moved to it’s final resting spot, raised 3 metres so its brand-new tail would fit underneath, and repainted to a mouth-watering shade of cooked-crustacean salmon pink, the Big Prawn is BACK!

And although the finishing touches were still being applied on this rare rain-free Northern Rivers afternoon, the pulchritudinous prawn looks better than ever!

Want MORE?

Like it? SHARE it!


  1. Red, The Big Prawn – A perfect first post for Saturday Critters… loved it. Now shall we make everyone out there in colder climes jealous, when I ask ‘Are you throwing a prawn or two on the barbie on Christmas Day?!!’
    Have a great week
    Wren x

  2. @FruitCake – Hahaha, I thought they HAD been!! But it’d be pointless re-locating them to Canberra, because it’s the only place in OZ where it seems we are indeed too old to learn!
    @Pam – Oh, I always wondered what it would be like to actually live near a Big Thing!!! The orange looked rather faded last time I saw it … perhaps it’ll get lucky some day & get repainted to look like a sunset too!!!
    @Marja – Yes, from a distance he actually looks good enough to eat!
    @Hilda – Haha, funny that!! Apparently the crew who worked on the prawn had to sample LOTS so they could get the shape & colour right!! He’ll inspire many more meals yet, I think!
    @PDP – It’ll be interesting to see if their sausage sizzles go up a notch & turn into seafood sizzles in Ballina?? If so, that just might entice me to visit Bunnings there!!
    @Dianne – Come now! Where’s your sense of adventure?!?! At least I can say I’ve viewed the world through prawn-coloured glass …

  3. @River – Touring OZ via Big Thing wouldn’t be such a bad way to travel!!
    @Saucy Kodz – Hahaha, where’s Texas?!?!?! Australia is the KING of BIG!!!
    @diane b – Perfectly pleasurable, oh perspicacious person! And just try spelling all of THAT without a dictionary handy!
    @Whiteangel – It is indeed. For better or worse …
    @Chris – WOW! A giant cow?? Why haven’t I seen this on your blog???? But there’s something about grotesque giant misrepresentations of well known objects that pulls the crowds!
    @Jo-Anne – Oh, I’m SOOOOO flattered!!! Just as well you didn’t visit the prawn more recently – you’d have been SHOCKED at how faded it got before makeover!

  4. @Sallie – What do you mean, you wouldn’t come here to see them???!!! Maybe I should post a ‘Tour Australia via Big Things’ itinerary?!?!
    @Rose – Maybe it’s time to start lobbying for a BIG Thing at YOUR local Bunnings?!?!?! What would be a worthy Big thing for you, I wonder?!
    @Andrew – I’m devastated by your lack of sarcasm … but you’re right! The BIG Prawn actually looks like a prawn – not just a sad caricature …
    @eileeninmd – Stories like this are what I live for … ALL Big Things should be so lucky!
    @Jim – It sure IS one of the best … NOW!!! Bummer that I don’t have a pic of it during its pale, wan and weedy period …
    @Beach Bum – Hahaha! Can just see the Guinness Book of Records entry NOW!!!

  5. @MJWC – Haha, I was all ready to write its obituary – but then I saw its resurrection!!!
    @Arija – Couldn’t agree more! Embrace the kitsch, I say!!! I seek them out – but I’ve only scratched the surface … watch this space!
    @SFlaGuy – Yeah, it’s just as well … can you imagine what an Aged Care facility for unloved BIG Crustacea would look like?!?!?!
    @Sharon – FAAAAABULOUS!!! I’d LOVE to see that!!! Those of us who record such things for posterity salute you!!
    @Filip – It certainly is, my friend!! Of all the BIG things I’ve seen downunder, this one is the most realistic!!
    @Fun60 – HAhahaha!!! Now THERE’S a true-blue Aussie BIG Thing I’ve yet to see!! Bunnings – how about it?!?!?!

  6. Wow! the revival of the Big Prawn …. it’s amazing the things us Aussies will restore only of course once threatened with extinction. Would I climb the heights to get a prawn’s eye view? most probably not.

  7. I had to figure out who would write about a prawn-coloured sunset (loved the description)in Arija’s comments. So glad I popped by and learnt the big prawn history, this coming from someone who lived a short distance from S.A’s big orange for many years.

  8. Oh he did look a sad sorry crustacean there..good old Bunnings to the rescue.. P’s,(along with millions of other men, maybe some women too) favourite hideaway..I thought they were only interested in sausage (sizzles) haha!

  9. Oh yeah us Aussies like our big things and I am glad the big prawn has been saved I remember visiting the big prawn way back in the early 90’s………….thanks for visiting me and I liked this post so much that I am now following you via email….

  10. You would be disappointed, I’m sure, if I did not suggest the prawn, the sheep and the galah should all be relocated to Canberra…
    BTW thank you for forcing me to look up the word pulchritudinous… [in the end had to copy and paste just to get the spelling right!]. For all these years I thought it meant the complete opposite, but we’re never too old to learn, are we?

  11. Very cool story! It’s places like these that make landmarks so special. I’m glad it wasn’t demolished but instead Made to look like itself again 🙂 In my hometown we have a giant cow and all the tourists love seeing it and having a picture taken With it

  12. I thought it looked different the last time I was there. Thanks for the pulchritudinous????? prawn story.

  13. It used to be that everything was bigger in Texas, however; you have literally stolen that title, with all the “BIG” things I have seen on your travels. Praise to the Prawn and most glad someone had the sense or authority to preserve this guy and give him a new look n home:)

  14. Well, you know if I were ever lucky enough to go to Australia, I certainly wouldn’t be coming specifically to see those “big things”, but I’d be disappointed if they weren’t there. Which may say something about my condition. Fun post.

  15. I love this pesky prawn. Your story reminded me of something I saw in Italy on my trip there last year. It was the front of a restaurant called “Gargantua’s” and it featured a truly gargantuan man being fed by a cadre of helpers (probably because he couldn’t possibly lift his own massive arms). It was located in a town called Paese in the Veneto region of Italy. I remember being so stunned by the sight of it, I made our friend who was driving turn around and go back so I could get a photo. The whole thing looked so out of place in a country where traditional and enduring architecture abounds.

  16. You may well expect me to write something sarcastic but as big things go, the prawn is rather good. Good to hear big business stepping up to the crease in a very practical way.

  17. G’day Red,
    Aha! long live the Big Prawn and all other Big Things!
    Rose (official member of Big Thing loving public)
    God bless Bunnings – I knew there was a reason I practically live there……

  18. Reminds me of the story of the giant lobster in Islamorada, in the Florida Keys. Glad all the super sized crustaceans of the world are finding loving homes.

  19. Up the prawn, the giant crayfish,the monstrous ram, the big orange, apple, gumboot and galah., not to mention the Koala and lord knows what else. Where would we be without them?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.