Sunday, 20 December 2009


We haven't ventured far in the time we've been living up here. Just another thing to puzzle me and confound my expectations.

But this weekend we set off in the car to visit one of the great icons of Queensland tourism. I had friends at school who had holidays in Queensland and talk of the landmarks is etched deeply in memory as the banter of 'regular' kids. I guess I wanted to visit for all the same reasons their parents took them, and the same reasons tourists and travellers the world over go to see famous stuff.

Landmarks mark out the land we visit, but they also serve to mark out our memories of those visits. Sometimes the landmarks themselves are indeed awe inspiring, and we go to marvel at the glory of nature, or wonder of engineering or beauty of artistry. Sometimes the landmarks are little more than the chimera of cultural creation and a way of making occasions and memories more permanent. Sometimes they are ageless or utterly cutting edge and visiting them humbles us in the face of history and progress and provides pause for reflecting on the nature of permanence and the transience of life.

The great big pineapple was pretty much what expected. If it ever had claims to grandeur, it doesn't anymore. It dates from the early 70s and just like the real estate touts may say, it is in original condition. If like my classmates I had come up here in the late 70s and gone again today I possibly would have been shocked by how much the same it all was.

I can imagine when it first opened it would have been quite the real deal and people would have marvelled at both the technology of its construction and the window it opened into the production of a strange and exotic fruit (especially for the Southerners).

These days the highway has been diverted, the trade is slower and the car park is a reminder of what a crowd might look like. You can tell the place needs a lot of cash to halt the decline that I am guessing started a good ten years ago and has been gathering pace ever since.

The grove of exotic fruits has more than one dead tree and quite a few specimens that in this day of heightened mutlticultural cuisine are quite commonplace.

Though I was particularly fascinated by the sausage tree - what do you reckon they taste like?

The supreme highlight for Wil was the wee diesel locomotive which clapped along at about 3km an hour

and could only have been improved in his mind by getting going quicker and not stopping. Ever.

D and I were pretty impressed by the grove of 200 year old bamboo and Amy liked all the animals.

She was also keen on pretty much all the junk in the extensive and terrifyingly awful gift and souvenir shop and cried beyond reason when we didn't let her buy any of it.

This is increasingly becoming part of family outings, and both D and I are horrified.

But I drove the whole weekend, in rain and heat and busy town and speedy highway alike and that's a landmark all its own.

And the first draft of the teen size everyday skirt got two thumbs up so it's full steam ahead on that front too.


trasha said...

Oh the battle of the gift shop, I don't envy you. Hang tight to your principles, they get fed up with having tantrums eventually and stop asking.

How sad The BIG pineapple is slowly succumbing to time.

Di said...

Near my home town there is also a giant pineapple building which you can rent as a holiday home - built as a folly in a walled garden where they had greenhouses to grow the 18th century....

Check out the website

Jodie said...

I cannot tell you how much I love that last photo ! It should be called "Parenting" and hung somewhere important !

nikkishell said...

Classic last photo! Mia is just like that, wants to buy everything she sees. Esme on the other hand couldn't care less.

travellersyarn said...

Are the sausages tamarind pods?

You are doing the right thing by not buying overpriced tat in response to commercial pressure. As I explained to my daughters this evening "I don't care if you like me, my job is to be a good parent". She'll eventually grow out of it.

sewjourn said...

We drove past The Big Pineapple on our way to Byron a month or so ago and DH wouldn't even let us get out of the car for a photo!! (It was pouring rain!)

clare's craftroom said...

That's a great post ! I love the old truck . Merry Christmas .

brownhairblueribbon said...

wow, My Mama is a Queenslander and on one of the childhood trips to see Grandma we went to the Giant Pineapple.
I was about 9 I think. That was 1989. It seemed faded in the sun even then..It seemed less exciting then it had looked in the pictures..
Inside the pinapple itself was not at all what I had imagined (a cushioney represntation of the inside of the fruit,) and was just an empty room and faded infomation charts.
The train was not running.
It was hot and the sun was bright and our Mum wouldn't buy us chips for lunch & made us eat the sandwiches she packed.