On the outskirts of Nambour in Woombye, I am pleased to report that I stumbled across my second “Big” Australian icon of this tour. This time, the BIG Pineapple!
I sat in the car marvelling at this spectacle for a few minutes and was impressed by the number of tourists that would stop by, get out the car, take a picture and then carry on their way. A few, but not many, would venture into the adjoining restaurant and gift shop that offered “Free Admission”.
At 16 metres high I feel this fibreglass monster is certainly big for a pineapple so well qualified for the Australian Hall of Big Things (if there is such a thing). Since the Big Pineapple was originally unveiled on the 15th of August 1971, the associated 56 acre pineapple plantation (later expanded to 113 hectares) has had mixed success. In 1978 the fruit market and restaurant adjacent to the Big Pineapple burnt down but was rebuilt to include a Macadamia Factory and the Nut mobile Tour!
The business was then sold in 1981 and again in 1985 to Rupert Murdoch’s Queensland Newspapers. It was then sold again in 1996 to Graham Hayes who is finding the operation slow going, not least due to reduced Australian Tourism but also the success of the nearby Australia Zoo.
I ventured inside the shop and wandered alongside the stuffed kangaroos, koala and mixed preserves until I arrived at the cafeteria and purchased a coffee and slice of cake. It was relaxing sitting on the veranda overlooking the pineapple plantation below as the rain commenced pouring down. It was no wonder the scenery was so green with all the moisture that had been deposited over recent weeks, but it did mean I was not going to venture outside for a ride on the Nut Mobile!
Now, here’s a strange thing. There was actually not one, but two big pineapples in Queensland with a second located at Gympie just 65 kilometres away and it was opened just 2 months later than the Nambour version on 15 October 1971 – the cities 104th birthday – and was nearly identical in height, if not in shape. There are a number of conspiracy theories regarding the two pineapples and leaking of plans between councils – but they are too obscure to consider here and will remained filed along with other events, such as the UFO’s of Roswell and the assassination of JFK and will no doubt remain filed away in some military bunker somewhere on the planet. The Gympie Pineapple was pulled down in 2008.