Sunday, May 27, 2007

Merino on the move

Big Merino
Ian looking skinny at the Big Merino in 1986!

Goulburn's Big Merino tourist attraction was moved yesterday! It made the TV news last night and all the Sunday papers.

One of Australia's most famous "Big Things", built in 1985, this icon - and the kitschy souvenir shop within its cavernous interior - had fallen right out of tourists' agendas after a by-pass diverted traffic away from Goulburn's main drag about fifteen years ago. So last year, it was decided by a couple of Goulburn locals to make an offer on buying and relocating the giant sheep to a service station where it could be more readily seen by users of the new motorway.

I first saw the Big Merino in person in 1986. I excitedly sent a postcard of it to my penpal, Olivia, who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the US, who was almost appalled that, with so many wonderful natural Aussie landmarks, flora and fauna, I'd send her an image of a giant concrete sheep. She promptly returned the favour with a giant rubber tyre (or, indeed, "tire") from nearby Detroit.

The Big Merino is said to be one of an estimated 146 "Big Thing" tourist icons throughout Australia. Others include the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour (currently being renovated), the eerie Big Prawn at Ballina, and at least two Big Pineapples in Queensland (but I think one closed down due to lack of interest).

A year ago, when again passing through Goulburn, the restaurant next door had been long abandoned, and the souvenirs had been drastically scaled back, so moving the ram certainly seems like a great solution. As The Seekers used to sing, "You know I'll never find another ewe."

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