Matt Smith's End of the Spectrum

Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.

Queensland trip – The Big Pineapple

The Big Pineapple

Yep, that’s pretty darn big.

I find the Australian habit of ‘big things’ rather commendable. Build a large representation of something, stick it on the side of the road, and people will come. They’ll stand beneath its oversized greatness, whistle in appreciation, and say ‘imagine if they were that big, eh?’ A photo and a fridge magnet later and they’re on the road again. The big thing remains, awaiting the next weary traveller.

The Big Pineapple is a member of this proud tradition, albeit in a rather sad, rundown fashion. In dire need of a renovation (or at the very least a decent scrub), it sits next to a pineapple plantation in Woombye, Queensland, just outside of Maroochydore. It measures sixteen metres high, but is almost obscured by a rundown visitor’s centre and carpark. In its heyday it must have been quite the drawcard for the area – there’s a pedestrian walkway stretching above the highway – but now it mostly just dreams of warmer climates and better days.

Within the great pineapple is a decaying diorama showing pineapples being grown and harvested. Level two has a collection of rusting Golden Valley cans and a few photographs from the sixties of short-skirted women flanking men with impressive facial hair. This leads to an observation deck where thrilling views of the carpark await you.

Golden Circle in the 1960s. Don Draper wishes he was this cool.

Golden Circle in the 1960s. Don Draper wishes he was this cool.

What was left out of the entire experience was anything else regarding the long history of pineapples. This is just a few facts gleaned from The Pineapple: King of Fruits by Fran Beauman:

  • Columbus bought the first pineapple to Europe on the return of his second voyage to the new world in 1493. Only one survived the voyage, but it was enough to impress King Ferdinand.
  • The pineapple had a kingly status and by the 1700s it was being grown by every self-respecting British aristocrat. Each cost about $5000 to grow and they were a conversation piece – they were rarely consumed.
  • During this time garden boys were hired to sleep in the pineapple pits to make sure they didn’t overheat.
  • Pineapples were taken to parties and passed around to show off. You could even rent them for such purposes.
  • The pineapple is the only creation of nature that has this enzyme in it called “bromelain”, which digests protein. This effectively means that it’s flesh-eating. In the 1800s a woman named Rose Aylmer died from eating too many pineapples.

The Big Pineapple doesn’t hint to any of this glorious past, limiting its efforts to a board on which is written the mythical legend of a magical pineapple. It’s the sort of thing you begin reading with an encouraging smile, but the further and more detailed it gets you begin to wonder if it was written while wearing a tin foil hat.

The dilapidated condition of the Big Pineapple isn’t entirely surprising given it was rescued by locals after bankruptcy a few years ago, and while it has potential it still left a lot to be desired. Hopefully at some point it will return to a state of fruity greatness.

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3 comments on “Queensland trip – The Big Pineapple

  1. gpcox
    July 10, 2013

    That pineapple reminds me of the old tourist traps of Florida back in the 50’s and 60’s.

  2. Soren Frederiksen
    July 11, 2013

    I appreciate the pineapple facts.
    More of those please, Matthew.

  3. m
    August 3, 2013

    I have never had the pleasure – but knowing the information board is perhaps being written by someone wearing a tin foil hat… perhaps channeling the ghost (??) of the pipe smoking big boss fills me with glee.

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This entry was posted on July 10, 2013 by in travel and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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