In the 1970s, no family road trip was complete without pit stops at the Big Things strategically placed alongside highways across Australia.
I can still remember that frisson of excitement as a kid when Dad swung the brown Belmont Holden wagon off the highway and into a cark park with the promise of a family snap beside a giant fibreglass structure.
It was parfaits at the Sunshine Coast's Big Pineapple, mini golf at the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour in northern New South Wales, and lots of sniggering at the rear view of the Big Merino in Goulburn on the Hume Highway.
Though to this day it remains a mystery why anyone thought Taree's Big Oyster was a good idea (it now sits above a car dealership).
There are 150 Big Things in Australia — and after more than 16 years of planning, Australia's newest big thing has been revealed to the world.
The Big Thermometer has been erected in a park at Stanthorpe on Queensland's Granite Belt and locals are standing back waiting for the tourists to flock to the town.
The switch was flicked on the 10-metre-high Big Thermometer this week and it is now recording temperatures in Queensland's coldest region.
Big and accurate
While it might not rival the Big Mango in Bowen, the Big Gumboot in Tully or Rockhampton's several Big Bulls, locals have lofty ambitions for the drawcard potential of The Big Thermometer.
Local Chamber of Commerce vice president Mick Spiller believes it will become synonymous with Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt.
"We're the coldest town in Queensland and we're really proud of it and we want to showcase it," Mr Spiller said.
"Everyone likes to get a photo taken in front of something big and we've certainly got a quality structure there for people to do that — I think the word will spread very quickly."
It has not been without controversy, with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) not yet recognising the Big Thermometer's temperature readings.
Mr Spiller said they were working with BoM to change that.
"The temperature is very accurate and it is being recorded regularly and we hope the bureau will recognise that," he said.
Stanthorpe is an overachiever in the Big Things stakes with the Big Apple already a local landmark.
Tourists like big things
Queensland Tourism Industry Council spokesman Daniel Gschwind said Big Things were still drawing in the tourists.
"Size certainly still does matter in many ways in tourism and it does still attract attention," Mr Gschwind said.
"The frosty climate there [in Stanthorpe] is a unique attribute for Queensland but it also has the food, the wine and the horticulture that goes on up there.
"As a point of attraction, why not? Good luck to them — it's a great region, it's one that has a lot of tourist potential and if the thermometer helps to take the temperature of the region and excite others about, then it's a good thing."
The Big Thermometer will be officially unveiled next month but for now, a family road trip is being planned so I can share the joy of Big Thing road trips with my kids.ABC