How to see all the big things in Queensland
Confession time: we are positively obsessed with big things in Queensland.
If you’ve done any road trips in the Sunshine State, you’ll know that when we’re famous for something we immortalise it in fibre glass.
We have a veritable fibre glass fruit basket up the coastline and every protein raised and grazed on Queensland soil (and seas) strung up in between.
Some might take holidays for history and heritage, others for events and adventure, but if you’re anything like us, you can also take a lap around the Queensland map just visiting our ‘big’ structures.
Start planning your itinerary around these pitstops and get ready for a camera-roll full of these big things in Queensland.
1. Big things of Brisbane
If you like your encounters with ferocious meat-eating dinosaurs to be of the fibreglass variety, pay a visit to the Queensland Museum for an encounter with a T-Rex and Triceratops on the Ground Floor.
From there, wander towards QPAC to find the big cicada near the bus stop. To be fair, it’s more public art than “big thing”, but worthy of a photo nonetheless.
Your final big thing to tick off in the capital city is the Wheel of Brisbane, the River City’s answer to the London Eye. From your air-conditioned gondola you can see Brisbane from sky-high – well, 60m above the ground.
While you’re there, tick all three off following this guide to Brisbane’s cultural precinct.
Photo Challenge: Do your best T-Rex impression in front of the dinosaurs at the Queensland Museum. ROAR!
2. Big things of the Sunshine Coast
Make your first stop the pub at Aussie World on the highway between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. While not technically a big thing, the ‘Banana Bender Pub’ has got all the makings of an iconic family holiday snap – an iconic exterior, kitsch interiors and caricature wall-art, full of famous faces.
Back on the M1, continue north towards Queensland’s most juicy new tourism development, the Big Pineapple.
The Big Pineapple is currently undergoing a transformation across its 170 hectares, but is still open to visitors with a zoo, tree top challenge, zipline and a 16m fibreglass pineapple structure that’s the star of the show.
You’ll need to travel along the Pacific Coast to just south of Gympie for the next big thing, Matilda the Kangaroo. She represented Australia at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane and now enjoys batting her eyelids in retirement along the Bruce Highway.
Photo Challenge: A boomy (Instagram boomerang) in front of the Big Pineapple.
3. Big things of the Fraser Coast
Our big things in Queensland aren’t just confined to flora and fauna.
Take the Maryborough exit and keep an eye out for Ned Kelly as you head into town. Ned might seem out of place this side of the border, but did you know a former Maryborough man helped forensic experts identify Ned Kelly’s remains all those years ago?
Follow the sea breeze east to Hervey Bay, where you’ll find a Big Whale at the Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere. You’ll also find the real deal in the bay area from June till October every year. Simply follow this guide for a whale of a time.
Photo Challenge: Get your finger-guns out in front of the Big Ned Kelly.
4. Big things of the Southern Great Barrier Reef
In keeping with the drinks theme, deviate from the coast taking the Isis Highway towards the tiny town of Childers where you’ll find the Big Beer (XXXX Gold).
As you continue your drive north, this big things list becomes progressive in Rockhampton. The beef capital of the world, Rocky, has six bovine beauties on its main streets in a nod to the six breeds grazed in region.
Not all big things are on the Queensland coast. Take the Capricorn Way to Emerald to find the Big Easel. The mural is a 25-metre replica of the wonderful Sunflowers created by Vincent Van Gogh. You’ll find its inspiration if you time your visit for sunflower season as the area transforms into field-upon-field of yellow.
Photo challenge: Make a carousel out of your photos with the famous bulls.
5. Big things in Mackay and the Whitsundays
It pays to swap the islands of the Whitsundays and Mackay with the mainland if you want to tick off these big things.
It might not be the most beautiful big thing on this list, but in Sarina you’ll find the Big Cane Toad, a nod to Australia’s most famous animal release gone wrong. Back in the 30s, these jumpy critters were introduced to control pests in the sugar cane. Fast forward 90 years and they’ve become a more famous pest than the beetles they sought to eradicate.
Travel two hours north of Mackay for something sweeter on the eye: the Big Mango in the mango capital of Australia, Bowen. Make your stop a little tastier with a visit to the Visitor Information Centre next door where you can pick up a 100% mango sorbet treat.
Photo challenge: Eat a mango sorbet in front of the giant mango.
6. Big things in Townsville
Australia’s sunniest city Townsville delivers feathered fun, with a Big Brolga south of Townsville.
Although Townsville is known for its sunny status, the same can’t be said for its rainy neighbour Tully. To celebrate its crown as the wettest city in Queensland, this town has a big gumboot. If you decide to stay and play a while, we’ve got this 48 hour guide.
Photo challenge: Get your wings out for a photo with the Big Brolga.
7. Big things of Tropical North Queensland
When you visit the capital of the Cassowary Coast, Mission Beach, you’ll want a photo with the animal that gives the town its moniker. Sadly, getting a photo with a real cassowary is far too risky, so the safest option is a selfie with the Big Cassowary.
If you’d like to celebrate everyone’s favourite salty snack, head to Tolga to find the Big Peanut on the Kennedy Highway.
On the flora front, make tracks to the Daintree and keep an eye out for the Big Croc Head (and medium cassowary) on Daintree Road before you cross the Daintree River towards Cape Tribulation. Across the river, you’ll find the Big Barramundi at the Big Barramundi Garden.
Of course, you can always try real wildlife spotting in the Daintree Rainforest to see the big nature (animals and plants) that call this UNESCO World Heritage-listed foliage home.
Photo challenge: Make mum nervous and stick your head inside the Big Croc Head at the Daintree River.
8. Big things of the west
In case the 901,574km2 of Outback Queensland didn’t prove that size matters, its list of big things will.
From Cairns, take the Savannah Way and make your way to Normanton. Here you’ll find a Big Barramundi and a Big Crocodile. If you’re hooked on barra, you’ll also find another big barramundi ‘Flossie’ at the Barramundi Discovery Centre, further west in Karumba.
From Karumba, head south on the Matilda Highway until you hit the Overlanders Way at Cloncurry. Go east to meet the Kronosaurus in Richmond and spot over 1150 fossils, some of which date back 100-115 million years.
If you like your big things fossilised, continue east on the Overlanders Way to Hughenden before taking State Route 66 south to Australian Age of Dinosaurs, Winton. Not only are their bones big, this museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils. The museum grounds are on the large side too – just a cool 1800 hectares of mesa plateau.
Take the Matilda Way south-east for 400 kilometres of Winton to get to Blackall, a town which wears its shearing history on its sleeve with the Big Sheep and monument dedicated to the legendary Jackie Howe.
Photo challenge: Snap a dinosaur at sunset in Winton.
9. Big things in South East Queensland
Your lap around the Queensland map is not complete without a photograph of the 2018 Wotif ‘Next Big Thing’ competition winner, Chinchilla. The watermelon capital of Australia beat out other towns for the bid, and now a giant slice of melon welcomes visitors to town.
Keep building your fruit basket of photos with a picture at Queensland’s own Big Apple, Stanthorpe. If you decide to bunker down in the apple-capital, we’ve got a 48 hour guide for you.
From Stanthorpe, take the A15 highway towards the Gold Coast. Your last (but not least big thing) on this list – the Big Pie at Yatala. This Gold Coast institution has been serving up pastry parcels for over 30 years seeing some 3500 fly into hungry hands each day. Your cue to take exit 38? The giant pie in the sky, of course.
Photo challenge: Have fun lining your model up with the Big Apple or Big Pie – either take a bite or hold it in your hand.