Australia is a country known for its vast landscapes, unique wildlife, and charismatic cities. But there’s another aspect of its identity that often gets overlooked – the concept of “Big Things.” These are large structures, typically in the form of everyday objects, animals, or food, intentionally built to attract tourists. Among these fascinating structures, the Big Prawn in Ballina, New South Wales, stands out as a monumental tribute to the town’s prawning industry.

Big Prawn Ballina

The Epic Journey of the Big Prawn

A Monument is Born

In 1989, two visionary Hungarian brothers, Atilla and Louis Mokany, sought to create a unique symbol for Ballina, a town famous for its prawning industry. They dreamt of a gigantic prawn, so colossal that it would catch the eye of every passerby, sparking curiosity and drawing them into the town. Armed with a budget of 500,000 AUD and the services of local sculptor James Martin, they set about bringing their vision to life. The result? A 9-meter-tall fiberglass prawn that soon became a symbol for the town.

The Tail Tale: A Major Transformation

Originally, the Big Prawn was built without a tail. However, a structure of such significance is never immune to change. In 2013, Bunnings Warehouse funded a major renovation, introducing a tail to the prawn and giving it a new lease on life. The renovation wasn’t limited to aesthetics; the prawn was also elevated by three meters, making it an even more prominent feature of the West Ballina skyline.

Interesting Trivia: The Big Prawn

A Heavyweight Champion

The Big Prawn is not just big—it’s incredibly heavy too! Weighing in at a whopping 35 tonnes, it is equivalent to six adult African elephants. This fact alone is enough to pique the interest of anyone hearing about the Big Prawn for the first time.

A Walk Inside the Prawn

Back in its heyday, visitors to the Big Prawn could do more than just marvel at its size—they could actually walk inside it. A spiral staircase led to its oversized head, offering a unique viewpoint of the surrounding landscape through the prawn’s eyes. The interior also housed a souvenir shop, a seafood market, and several restaurants, making the Big Prawn a vibrant hub of activity and a must-visit destination on the Pacific Highway.

Near Demolition and Remarkable Resurrection

The Threat of Demolition

In 2009, the beloved Big Prawn faced a grave threat. Plans were made to demolish the iconic structure, shaking the Ballina community to its core. However, the people of Ballina were not about to lose their cherished landmark without a fight. A public protest was launched, backed by a Facebook petition that gathered over 10,000 signatures. The result? The proposed demolition was halted.

The Prawn’s Second Life

Following the public outcry, international hardware chain Bunnings Warehouse saw an opportunity to give the Big Prawn a new lease on life. After extensive renovations, including a fresh coat of paint, the prawn was moved to its current location adjacent to a Bunnings Warehouse branch. This relocation and renovation process wasn’t cheap—it carried a price tag of approximately 21.3 million AUD.

The Big Prawn’s Cultural Impact

A Record-Breaking Prawn

The Big Prawn’s colossal size isn’t just impressive—it’s record-breaking. Holding the title of “The World’s Largest Artificial Prawn,” it continues to draw attention from around the globe,cementing its status as a major attraction for both local and international tourists.

Google’s Unexpected Censorship

In a humorous twist of events, the Big Prawn once made headlines when Google Street View blurred its face. The platform’s facial recognition software, designed to protect people’s privacy, mistook the prawn’s large eyes for human ones, leading to an unexpected bout of ‘prawn privacy.’

Immortalized in Books

The Big Prawn’s influence extends even to the literary world. Local author Robin Osborne has written two books, ‘Tessa and the Big Prawn’ and ‘The Tail of the Big Prawn,’ chronicling the monument’s journey from planning and construction to its proposed demolition and eventual relocation. The books underscore the Big Prawn’s significance to the local community and its unique place in Ballina’s cultural heritage.


From its inception in 1989 to its grand renovation in 2013, the Big Prawn has stood as a testament to Ballina’s cultural heritage and the power of community spirit. Today, it continues to draw locals and tourists alike, standing tall as a symbol of the town and a beacon of its economic growth. Despite its changes and challenges, the Big Prawn remains a beloved icon, forever etched in the heart of Ballina’s community and history. As the story of the Big Prawn continues to unfold, one thing is clear: this Biggie is here to stay, a giant testament to Australia’s love for the unique, the quirky, and the extraordinary.

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