Australia is a bit of an odd place in many ways.
As you road trip around the country, stopping in different small towns and cities, you may stumble across some truly weird monuments.
Some of these are naturally made, like odd-shaped rocks and land formations. Others are local pieces of artwork, or giant statues which represent something specific to the area in which they reside.
Many of these monuments often have a bit of a backstory to them, making them seem even more bizarre.
Here are nine weird monuments in Australia and the stories behind them.
The Big Ugg Boots in Maitland, New South Wales
The Big Ugg Boots sit out the front of the Mortels Sheepskin Factory in Thornton, a suburb of Maitland.
Known to locals as the “Berro Boots”, they were originally brown, but have recently acquired a new and rather colourful coat of paint. Staff at Mortels have fun accessorising the boots, with a Santa at Christmas time and an accompanying giant thong on Australia Day.
Mortels are a local business best known for taking on UGG Australia. The American company, which is now owned by Deckers Outdoor Corporation, attempted to take a trademark out on the world “Ugg”, despite it having Australian origins. As one Australian business owner stated, “it’s like saying you can’t call a car a car”.
“Ugg” is short for “ugly” (which the footwear admittedly kinda is). The boots are a wholly Australia concept, originating in the 1920’s where shearers used to wrap sheepskin around their feet to keep warm in the sheds.
Mortels and other Australian companies rallied together, formed the Australian Sheepskin Association, took on the conglomerate and won! You can read more about the Ugg Boot War here.
Located right at the end of the M1 (the road from Sydney to Newcastle/The Hunter Valley/Maitland), the Boots provide the perfect opportunity to stretch your legs and snap a silly photo.
Here are some other historical and fun things to do in Maitland.
The Big Potato in Robertson, New South Wales
Robertson in New South Wales is home to the Big Potato. Yes, you heard it right, we have a Big Potato in the middle of a park.
Also known as the Big Spud, the structure is said to have been built in the year 1977, by a local potato farmer. This was an attempt to give a tribute to the vegetable that has been the staple of the local farming community for decades in Robertson.
The structure measures about 10 metres long and 4 metres wide. It was designed in such a way that the visitors could actually go in. Now this has been closed and unfortunately, I could not go inside the structure. And the Big Potato has been spray painted brown so it looks like it’s come straight out of the ground.
By Raksha of Solo Passport
Bread Tin Ned Kelly Monument in Jerilderie, New South Wales
Arguably Australia’s best known bushranger – aka ‘outlaw’ – Ned Kelly worked his magic by robbing, looting and terrorising mostly Victorian rural towns.
Nowadays, Ned is a money-spinning tourist drawcard – he’s already inspired the first feature film ever made, is the subject of many songs and novels, has a popular bakery pie named after him, and plays a starring role as Big Ned Kelly in the small Victorian town of Glenrowan, site of his famous ‘Last Stand’ and subsequent death by hanging.
So how does small town Jerilderie, the only New South Wales town to be ‘honoured’ by Ned’s presence, get a piece of the action and pull in the crowds? By building an eight-foot high statue of Ned in bread tins, of course!
In pride of place at the local bakery, Ned’s namesake isn’t just a unique tribute that none of the other ‘Kelly country’ towns can boast, it’s a cunning way to get visitors to stay longer, spend money in the town AND try a tasty treat while viewing this quirky monument. Highway robbery?
Not really, but somehow, I think the real Ned Kelly would approve!
Marion (aka Red Nomad OZ) blogs at Australia by Red Nomad OZ
HMAS Otway in Holbrook, New South Wales
An Oberon class submarine is the last thing you would expect to find in an inland NSW town. Yet the HMAS Otway sits partially submerged in parkland in the rural town of Holbrook, between Sydney and Melbourne.
Holbrook resident, Lieutenant Norman Holbrook was the first submariner to receive the Victoria Cross during WWI. The former town of Germantown was subsequently renamed “Holbrook” after their war hero.
Like many bypassed highway towns, Holbrook was seeking an attraction to bring tourists off the Hume Highway during the 1990’s. The idea of acquiring a submarine as a memorial seemed fitting.
The RAN gifted the fin of the decomissioned HMAS Otway to the town of Holbrook in 1995. Local community fundraising and a generous donation from the Holbrook family then enabled the community to acquire the outer skin of the HMAS Otway.
The 89 metre long submarine was installed in Germanton as a memorial to submariners and has become a popular tourist attraction.
The surrounding complex has been developed to provide a cafe and museum. The exhibits on display include photographs and marine artifacts, as well as a mock interior giving gives visitors an idea of what life in a submarine.
Looking for other places to stop off on the road from Sydney to Melbourne? Check out these tourist attractions along the Hume Highway.
Contributed by Lesley of Empty Nester Travel Insights
Matilda in Kybong, Queensland
Though Matilda currently sits near a serene pond in South Queensland, this giant kangaroo once had a much bigger role to play in Aussie history.
In 1982, she served as the primary mascot for the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. Many Commonwealth game viewers found her thirteen meter height and long lashes to give her an unfortunately creepy demeanor.
She then later caused a bit of a stir by giving a slow wink to the Duke of Edinburgh during opening ceremonies.
While she no longer winks at her current location in Kybong, she does retain her famous long lashes. Overall, Matilda’s glam look makes her the perfect cheesy photo op as you road-trip Queensland’s East Coast.
By Savannah of Savvy Dispatches
The Golden Gumboot in Tully, Queensland
Queensland has been known to have many ‘big’ attractions. But one of the most interesting is the ‘Golden Gumboot’ which is located in Tully. The Golden Gumboot is a competition which is held between Tully, Innisfail and Babinda – the 3 wettest towns in Australia given they are located on land which once was within the Wet Tropics Rainforest.
The Golden gumboot – particularly when viewed with the main street area behind it, highlights the amount of rain which fell on Tully – 7.9 metres to be exact, which Tully experienced throughout 1950. This was the highest yearly rainfall an Australian city ever received.
It is made of fibreglass and has a spiral staircase so people can climb up to the viewing platform at the top of the gumboot.
When I was there, it fittingly was a rainy day – but they had seen some nice weather in the days before it – so it isn’t always wet! But small towns like Tully really depend on tourism for survival – so making a detour to any of them is a must. Plus, the gumboot makes for a great photo op!
Ed’s note: Check out this list of small towns in Australia worth visiting.
Contributed by Toni of Enchanted Serendipity
The Big Pelican in Noosaville, Queensland
You’ll find The Big Pelican next to the shady parkland on the foreshore of the Noosa River in Noosaville, Queensland.
It was built circa 1977 by Noosa Council as a float for the Festival of the Waters Parade and was used for many parades over the years – it has flapping wings, a rotating head, an opening beak and blinking eyes complete with glamorous eyelashes!
The iconic structure is now owned by Pelican Boat Hire and they orchestrated a renovation of the landmark – upgrading its papier-mâché and chicken wire construction with a steel frame and layers of fibreglass topped with acrylic paint to help it stand the test of time.
It makes a great spot for a photo before you head to The Boat House for a spot of lunch!
Read about more things to do in Noosa in this post.
Karen writes about lifestyle, travel and migration to Australia at SmartStepstoAustralia.
The Barcode Fountain Geelong, Victoria
Visit the city of Geelong and you’ll find pieces of artwork that reflect its past scattered throughout the town. They’re all unique and quirky but the Barcode Fountain is perhaps the weirdest.
Little more than a gutter filled with running water it’s not most people’s idea of a fountain. But it’s still popular with visitors, particularly children who enjoy playing in the running stream.
It was built to commemorate the iconic Geelong product Noddy’s Soft Drink, which used to be found in just about every home in the city. The company barcode is reproduced on stainless steel panels that make up the feature.
The fountain flows through a lovely lawn area beside Sailors Rest restaurant on the waterfront and is particularly pretty at night with its blue strip lighting.
Read about more things to do in Geelong in this post.
By Audrey of See Geelong
Dog Rock in Albany, WA
One of the quirky things about Albany in Western Australia is Dog Rock. While in reality it is just what it says – a rock that looks like a dog – it has an interesting background.
Dog Rock is called ‘Yacka’ by local Noongar population and is probably one of the few rocks to be listed by the National Trust.
As car transport increased in the local area Dog Rock, which juts out into the street, was seen as a danger to motorists so the council decided to get rid of it.
This caused much protest in the town and eventually a Referendum was held and the ‘rock’ was saved.
It was then decorated with a collar to warn motorists of the danger and remains here to this day.
While not one of the most exciting things to do in Albany it is well worth a quick visit.
Editor’s note: There’s also a micronation in WA that’s worth checking out if you’re in the state – The Principality of Hutt River.
Contributed by Michele Legging It
Have you stumbled upon any weird monuments in Australia, which caught your eye?
If you liked this post, check out these tips on how to avoid looking like a tourist in Australia, the best places to travel to in Australia and these weird facts about Oz.
And here are some general travel tips for Australia.
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