Big prawn off to the big bin?
By LUKE PRENDERGAST
THE Big Prawn must have been out in the sun too long, because it appears to be off.
And it seems the tourism icon is not as synonymous with Ballina as the local tourism industry would like to believe.
It might be well-known locally, but not elsewhere. On Tuesday night, ABC Radio's Norman Quiz asked listeners, 'Where is the Big Prawn?'. After guesses of Warrnambool, Coffs Harbour, Yamba (twice), and Nambucca Heads, the correct answer finally came in.
Even then the caller only knew because he had recently driven past it. He even commented that the paint job was looking decidedly faded.
So is the Big Prawn set for the big bin? Or does it just need a lick of paint and a good PR firm?
According to Judy Smith, leaseholder of the Big Prawn Restaurant, the prawn still attracts passing motorists wanting to take pictures of each other in front of the giant crustacean.
Guy Kernode, from the Aussie Gift Shop, agreed. "It is still a tourist attraction definitely, because at any time of day you can look out the window and see people taking pictures of it," he said.
So what of the tourists? Kristy West, of Brisbane, was taking photos of the Big Prawn yesterday, but only because her friend from Byron Bay dragged her out to Ballina.
"It is a bit cheesy," Kristy said. "I don't understand the significance of Ballina with prawns."
Ian Jackson, from Sydney, said he knew of the Big Prawn but not its location. "I've seen it before because I've driven to Queensland, but I just never connected it to Ballina. It's not the reason we came here but it is a good stop-off," he said.
The Big Prawn was built in 1990 for $500,000 to salute the significance of the sea to the town. It is made from wire netting mesh moulded on to a frame of steel rods, with 12 tonnes of glass and reinforced concrete.
It is 27m long (twice as long as a humpback whale) and is 30,000 times bigger than an actual prawn. And yes, it needs a lick of paint.