'I will build our new Big Prawn'
BALLINA'S Big Prawn has a big fan in Chris Condon who still sees big value in having a big crustacean encouraging big numbers of people to stop in town once the big new highway is built.
And the Lennox Head developer is not alone, with a Facebook petition to save the prawn attracting more than 400 names - while about 70 people have signed up to an opposing petition on the online networking site calling for the prawn to be 'killed'.
This, along with national media attention on the prawn on the popular morning television show Sunrise on Tuesday, has all come about after a development application was lodged last week by Dojoo Pty Ltd - Santo Pennisi's company - to demolish the icon which has stood at West Ballina since 1990.
Mr Condon said he wouldn't like to have Ballina known as the town that demolished one of Australia's 150 or so big things.
But if it were to go, he said he would like to build another Big Prawn at a service centre he is proposing, in a joint venture for the Teven Road interchange on the Ballina bypass route.
Mr Condon said the Big Prawn was 'synonymous with Ballina' and its loss would be a 'detriment to the town'.
He admits he has a soft spot for big things.
He built one himself - a 6m high World's Biggest Beer Can on the Grand Hotel at Cobar in 1990, which he said is still standing today.
It was a promotional idea, and he said a new Big Prawn on Teven Road still had promotional benefits for Ballina.
“If you do it properly, you could make it a destination,” he said.
“I believe it would be a big positive for Ballina still.
“It would help people stop at Ballina.”
He also said the prawn was a tribute to the fishing industry which helped make Ballina the town it is today - an industry which has faded in recent years.
He did admit some people saw the Big Prawn as 'unpalatable'.
Letter writers have noted in recent years that it needs a lick of paint.
And the Big Prawn was a locally-noted omission from a recent Telstra television advertisement which featured other big things.
But Mr Condon said having a Big Prawn at the new gateway to Ballina would encourage motorists to stop.
The development application for the service centre is still before Ballina Shire Council, with amendments to the original plan being lodged recently.
Mr Condon said the proposed 5000sqm centre would be the biggest on the Pacific Highway north of Sydney. It will have a petrol station, fast-food outlets, and be an opportunity to showcase the region through a tourism display - and a Big Prawn.
But at this stage, the new Big Prawn is just a big idea. The development application for the demolition of the Big Prawn is on public exhibition and open for submissions.
The Big Prawn was built in 1990 by Goulburn-based developers Louie and Attilla Moknay, of LA Developments, who also built the Big Merino at Goulburn and the Big Oyster at Taree.
Ballina Shire Council approved it in 1988.