Australia's penchant for oversized attractions is legend - but which of these famous fruits deserves to be your first pick? Our experts help you decide.
By Amy Cooper
Welcome to the clash of the tropical titans. In the yellow corner: banana smoothie Mal, trying to convince you that a spineless mega monkey snack with a bunch of random rides has superior a-peel. In the other yellow corner: a supersized pineapple party, delivering big on fun times.
Australia's Big Things, whether wild, wonderful or plain WTF (Victoria's Big Dead Fish, I'm looking at you), have one job: telling you what's most important about where they live. And while you might hesitate to associate a 16-metre-tall fibreglass fake fruit with good taste, that's exactly what Queensland's Big Pineapple is all about.
A poster child for the Sunshine Coast's legendary produce, the golden goliath was built in 1971 as the centrepiece of Woombye's Sunshine Plantation, a working pineapple farm where visitors could tour and taste. The Big Pineapple was a big deal, with a million visitors annually flocking in to ride the sugarcane train and eat pineapple parfait. Even Princess Di made a Pineapple pilgrimage in 1983, dressed in matching yellow. There is no record of any royal audience with a banana.
Times changed and the farm closed. Would the Pineapple be canned? Not a chance. It just got juicier. When life gives you pineapples, you add rum - and the Pineapple's now home to Cavu Distilling, producer of Australia's first organic certified rum, as well as Sunshine & Sons Pineapple Parfait Gin, infused with local botanicals in tribute to its fruit figurehead. After a distillery tour, you can toast the mighty Pineapple with cocktails on the terrace. Diablo Co, the Big Pineapple's craft brewery, combines the region's ginger harvest with its brewing expertise (the Sunshine Coast has more breweries per capita than anywhere in Australia) in alcoholic ginger beers, plus pineapple liqueur, vodka and rum - all served at Oasis bar with live music and food trucks.
Times changed and the farm closed. Would the Pineapple be canned? Not a chance. It just got juicier.
After your aperitif, take a foodie trail around the Pineapple's tasty neighbours: Woombye Cheese, premium blend coffee at Frankie's Woombye, shaved ice at Sunny Coast Ice Cream Co and fresh veggies at Good Harvest Organic Farm.
Check in next door at the new Sixty6 Acres luxury pineapple-themed farmstay, where 7200 pineapples have been planted.
Expect more sweet celebrations in May 2024 at the Big Pineapple Music Festival, and there's an ongoing renovation promising more restaurants, an RV park, hotels and glamping.
Pineapples are the international symbol for hospitality, so it follows that Australia's merriest mega-fruit guarantees a gargantuan good time. The spiky superstar has even been nominated as official 2032 Olympics mascot. You'd have to be bananas to go big anywhere else.
By Mal Chenu
Generations of Aussies and thousands of bemused overseas tourists possess cherished photos of themselves posing in front of the legendary 13-metre-long, five-metre-high Big Banana in Coffs Harbour in northern NSW. The original and the best of the artistic array of prodigious produce populating our pastoral panoramas, the Big Banana was built in 1964 and has never gone off.
More than a selfie-op you can post online with a hilarious peel, split, sundae or smoothie pun, the Big Banana Fun Park is a genuinely fun day out. And the park's longstanding a-peel (see?) is due in no small part to the bright yellow artistic installation that stands proudly out front, beckoning passing cars to come in for a taste.
The Big Banana is the front-fruit for the Fun Park, which boasts a 500-metre-long toboggan ride, mini golf, ice skating, laser tag, a giant 83-metre-long slide, a 4D simulator ride, a demolition derby ride, a reptile show, an opal centre, the Go Bananas Fun Zone, and a four-storey-high water park with a range of slides and a kids' aqua play area for the little plantains.
If you're going to spend the whole Day-O there, remember it's very hot in this part of the world so don't forget the sunscreen. (This correspondent recommends Banana Boat SPF30+).
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And when you've built up an appetite, you can tuck into bananas of the fresh, dried, chipped, jam, chutney, pickle, choc-coated, frozen, split, cake, bread and muffin varieties, and wash them down with a smoothie.
They've even got a hot dog stand shaped like a giant - spoiler alert - hot dog! And don't split until you've been to The World of Bananas theatre, toured the plantation and packing shed, and picked up your 'nana-phernalia at the gift shop, which is shaped like a gift shop.
Bananas have always been a big thing and Coffs Harbour has been producing them since the 1890s. If you can't make it to the Big Banana, there's the Big Bunch of Bananas just to the south of Coffs Harbour, and other Big Bananas in Mackay in Queensland and Carnarvon in Western Australia.
Australians simply prefer bananas to pineapples. Despite the lure of an alliterative aperture, Pineapples in Pyjamas did not come down the stairs. B1 and B2 are national heroes. P1 and P2 are parking signs. Pineapplerama was never your Venus, and no one wrote a song called Yes! We Have No Pineapples.
When Cyclone Yasi destroyed the banana crop in 2011, we were prepared to pay $15 a kilogram for them. They became thoughtful gifts for loved ones, like lockdown loo paper during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Don't get the rough end of the big fruits. When the time is ripe to plan your next family holiday, pick the Big Banana.