FROM THEME PARKS TO QUIRKY ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS: WE ALL HAVE MEMORIES OF PLACES THAT NO LONGER EXIST. WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITES?
The Big Cow. Our wonderful country has a beautiful tradition of oversized tourist attractions.
I guess it’s same same but different to our obsession with mini versions of things. There’s something so Australian about an oversized fruit or seafood being a tourist attraction.
We’ve got the Big Banana, the Big Pineapple, the Big Prawn and even a Big Golden Guitar.
The one I loved as a kid, though, was a giant, oversized heifer.
Yes, right here on the Sunshine Coast, located at Kulangoor, was the the Big Cow: a A 16m tall bovine with bulging eyes and udder so big that if it shook, you’d literally have all the boys in the yard.
The Big Cow was built in the 1970s and was a popular stop for families on the site of a dairy farm.
I’m sure every family who visited the Sunshine Coast during their holidays would have taken a family pic leaning on the fence in front of the Big Cow.
The big old girl was officially shut down in 2016 because some numptys think that people don’t care about “big things’’ these days. Pfft. I say “bring back more big things”. I’d like to see some Big White Shoes to be put up at Noosa or a Big Walking Frame at Pelican Waters.
Come on, people. Have we lost our sense of humour? Can we please bring back the Big Cow? I want to see Moodonna back and bigger than ever here on the Coast.
Olympia Theme Park. In the heart of Alexandra Headland, less than 200m from the beach, stood the mighty Olympia Theme Park. Primarily, it was a waterslide complex, but it was turned into a weekend and summer wonderland by proprietors Con and Julie Spilios. Every summer, Olympia was on everyone’s to-do list.
I can still remember the excitement of walking in through the front doors: the big yellow and blue rendered entry littered with fibre optic lights, the buzz and shrill of the games room, the electronic bleats from Lazerforce and wafting smell of freshly fried chips calling lovingly from the hotbox leading up to the front counter.
The cricket often playing on the massive 22-inch screen above the lockers confirmed it was summer and the electricity filling the air of the hundreds of kids, young and old, ready to tackle the black hole, one or both of the speed slides or leisurely cruise down the coloured tube (number 2) or the open-aired number one slide.
Whatever your speed, the climb up the ramp then stairs, mat in hand, meant you were in for the time of your life.
I was fortunate enough to call Olympia Theme Park my home for over a decade as adopted son of Con and Julie and full-time life guard/pool attendant/mat collector. To this day, it was the best job I have ever had and arguably the best job any teenage boy could ever want.
The Coast is poorer for it not existing nowadays, but the memories will last forever.
Nostalgia Town. My brother and I used to get scared driving past the big skeleton out the front of Nostalgia Town at Pacific Paradise that was there as part of Graveyard Putt. As the name suggests, it was a mini-golf game set in a graveyard and adorned with all things goth and spooky, but it wasn’t enough to scare us away.
Our family outings to Nostalgia Town always brought joy to a school holiday or brightened a dull weekend. The quirky train ride through yesteryear artefacts seemed to all make sense at the time but, on reflection, had no logical reason for their collective existence. Dinosaurs with bushrangers and vintage transport with dolls and clowns ... but it was the ’80s/’90s, so why question these things? It was a simpler time and do-gooding “Tripadvisor Nazis” didn’t exist to point out these flaws in a digital attempt to feel superior and scare visitors away.
The funny thing was, no matter how many times we went, we always found new fun. Were we more easily entertained back then? Were we just grateful that someone was running a business purely designed for our amusement? Or have we just grown into a mob of whining divas, stuck on our devices, focused on star ratings and bored by anything that doesn’t shock and awe us or at the very least provide an opportunity to grow our insta followers?
Who knows? But I will never forget the chills Graveyard Putt gave us and I will never forget my hole in one through the eye socket of the ghoul on the third hole. Good times.