The Big Pineapple to be revived
Australians have a proud history of loving their big, kitsch roadside attractions. Long before Instagram, family photo albums from the 1970s and 1980s, of the quintessential Aussie road trip, were almost guaranteed to include a photo of one of our ‘Big’ curiosities, including the Big Prawn (Ballina, NSW); the Big Banana (Coffs Harbour, NSW); the Big Lobster (Kingston, South Australia); the Giant Koala (Dadswell’s Bridge, VIC); the Big Merino (Goulburn, NSW); and the Big Pineapple (Woombye, Sunshine Coast QLD). Our family album includes a photo of my Dad, two sisters and one brother posing in front of The Big Pineapple. I wasn’t on that trip but I remember thinking the photos looked incredible, like a gigantic, plastic pineapple was a ticket to 1980s holiday cool and fun.
The Big Pineapple, which was built in 1971 on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, was historically Australia’s most popular tourism attraction in the 1980s and 1990s, attracting more than one million visitors each year.
In 1983, Princess Diana and Prince Charles visited, with the Princess of Wales aptly wearing a yellow dress, as the pair took a ride on the heritage-listed Pineapple Train.
During the 2000s, the site sadly lost its sweet appeal with declining thoroughfare traffic as the Bruce Highway was diverted away from the site, and the big theme parks of the Gold Coast attracting more and more tourists.
The site closed for a number of years and was purchased by the current owners who invested in repairs, re-opened the site for visitors and embarked on a lengthy planning process to revive and renew the heritage-listed structures.
Thankfully, the local council in December 2019 approved a renewal master plan of the Big Pineapple. The plan is set to help facilitate new tourism attractions and food-based industry at the major Sunshine Coast tourist attraction.
New attractions will include more music events (in addition to the annual Big Pineapple Music Festival); a water park; and a ‘TreeTop Challenge’ of ropes and zipline. Visitors will also be able to climb the Big Pineapple; enjoy food and drinks in the refurbished Sunshine Plantation Building; try beers at a new craft brewery; sample fresh produce; and even stay overnight at new onsite accommodation options that will include an RV park, glamping options, eco-villas and a hotel. The master plan is due to roll out between now and 2025.
While people may no longer be using their Kodak cameras, the Big Pineapple is still in the lens – now one of the most popular Australian structures to have a selfie with!