A former Federal Tourism Minister John Brown once made the comment that anyone who didn’t like the Big Merino at Goulburn was not a true Australian.
Forgetting that he also described the koala as a piddling, flea-ridden, scratching, rotten little thing, his views on the Big Merino were probably pretty well on the mark.
Big Things, like the Big Bogan, Big Merino, Big Yabbie, Big Banana, Big Pineapple, Big Bull, Big Wine Barrel, Big Trout, Big Oyster, Big Peanut, Big Avocado and the Big Beer Can are all over the countryside and although many people still believe they’re gross and tasteless, they’ve become hugely popular landmarks.
The concrete and fibreglass colossuses exert magnetic powers of attraction over tens of thousands of tourists, who find it impossible to drive past without at least buying a hot dog or some petrol, or clicking off a couple of photos.
Hotel booking website Wotif is celebrating its 18th birthday by giving Australia its next Big Thing and is now taking nominations so Orange people can send in their Big Idea and maybe we can win a Big Thing.
A Big Grape, Big Orange or a Big Outdoor Dunny would be a reminder of the never-ending debate about new public toilets in Robertson Park that has caused the council so much stress.
So has anyone got any other ideas?
What will it be now?
Developers of the old Myer site in Summer Street have decided to scrap the proposed department store and replace it with a food court of six shops, something Orange really needs like a hole in the head.
The council is looking at dolling up the central business district to attract shoppers but bling won’t bring them here. Only a department store with fashion labels will. There’s already five food outlets and two coffee shops in the City Centre.
Do we want any more that will simply serve up a collection of dumplings, Asian noodles, sushi, tacos and KFC or Maccas under a single roof? Developers love them for bringing more activity to their properties but having too many, serving too much of the same things, is not what Orange needs. In fact, existing food outlets elsewhere in the business district could simply relocate leaving more empty premises and we don’t need that either.
It’s good news the State Government has given $71,000 towards more tourism development at Banjo Paterson Park on Ophir Rd, the site where the poet was born in his great uncle’s Narrambla homestead and its adjoining Templer’s Mill.
The money will be used for an archaeological dig, picnic shelter and toilets. It’s interesting to note that in the good old days when Orange had a tourism management committee it had plans for a national company to build a replica of the Narrambla homestead. Stages of the development were to also include a replica of the adjoining Templer’s Mill, which was blown up by the old Canobolas Shire Council, a restaurant and bistro, conference centre and theatrette and coach parking.
The project, which the committee said would be in keeping with Banjo’s national and international status, had the blessing of a granddaughter of the poet who offered her and her family’s full support. The development never went ahead, of course, but what does all that say about the old timber building moved to the Botanic Gardens?