WE WERE THERE: The death and resurrection of the Big Prawn
WE WERE THERE is a series that revisits The Northern Star's in-depth coverage of the major events that have shaped the Northern Rivers over the past 20 years. Today, we look at the paper's reporting of the ups and downs of Ballina's beloved giant crustacean, The Big Prawn.
THINK of Ballina and one thing comes to mind - the Big Prawn.
Love it or hate it (we love it), this giant crustacean has an important place in the town's history, and The Northern Star has brought you all of its ups and downs.
Remember years ago, when you could go up into the prawn and look out of its eyes? So do we.
Have you taken a photo of yourself standing just the right distance away so it looks like you're eating it? We have.
But life hasn't been easy for our beloved Big Prawn.
In his early glory days he was a popular tourist attraction and one of Australia's best loved "big things".
But the prawn didn't get the love and attention it deserved. He was left to deteriorate and fell victim to vandals.
All hope seemed lost. The Star even covered that fateful meeting in August 2009 when Ballina Shire councillors approved the demolition of the Big Prawn.
The service station where it lived closed down in 2010 and the site was sold.
But the following year a corporate saviour, Bunnings, came to the prawn's rescue.
The hardware giant revealed it had big plans for our Big Prawn as part of the opening of its Ballina store - a $400,000 makeover including a shiny new coat of paint and the addition of a tail.
The Star brought you the first photos as giant cranes relocated the crustacean to the entrance of the site, and we published the first glimpse of the revamped prawn and its long-awaited tail.
The new and improved prawn was officially unveiled in time for Bunnings' official opening in July 2013.
Once again, Ballina can be proud of its Big Prawn.
A festival has even been named in its honour.
And he's still a hit with snap-happy tourists.
Grab Monday's Northern Star to see how we have covered the shark issue over the past year.