If you were to drive along the highways of the Land Down Under, it would only be a matter of time until you'll come across one of Australia's Big Things. Aptly named for their oversized proportions, this series of roadside sculptures are well-known for their sheer peculiarity. Among the most conspicuous of those is the Giant Koala of Dadswells Bridge, a gargantuan Koala-shaped monument that pays tribute to one of the country's most iconic endangered species.
In the past couple of decades, Australia has been littered with hundreds of roadside attractions known locally as the “Big Things” for their humongous size. Nestled along the A8 road, in the townlet of Dadswells Bridge, the Giant Koala is, as its name suggests, a large-scale sculpture of one of the country’s most adorable marsupials. At the height of 14 meters, width of 8 meters and a weight of 12 tons, the unusual monument definitely lives up to its name.
Erected in 1989, the brownish-grey structure was designed by the Dutch artist Ben Van Zetton who incorporated a steel frame with an outer layer made of bronze and fiberglass. Unlike its real-life counterparts, instead of a baby koala, the Dadswells Bridge’s giant koala accommodates a tourist complex within its pouch, home a gallery, info board and a souvenir shop.
Over the years, it was suggested by some that the sculpted marsupial was created to raise awareness for the alarmingly dwindling population of koalas across the country, as a combination of bush fires, viral diseases and human encroachment has left the species on a brink of extinction.
Following a series of deadly bushfires in 2009, many koalas either perished or were severely wounded. One of which, a female koala named Sam became a nationwide icon after her rescue from the burning forest in Mirboo North was caught on camera and became viral online. In the following months, Sam was treated for her sustained injuries and chlamydiosis. Unfortunately, Sam eventually succumbed to the infectious disease later that year, prompting the owners of the Giant Koala to rename their monument after the deceased animal as a tribute for her loss.
photography by: Firstac5 and Papphase/ Wikimedia Commons
photography by: bushie/ Flickr