Big Prawn at Ballina.
Big Prawn at Ballina. Susanna Freymark

What 'big thing' do we need on the Northern Rivers?

IF YOU could choose a 'big thing' for a Northern Rivers town, what would you choose ... and where would you put it?

 

BIG PRAWN: Originally opened in 1989, the big Prawn was moved to its current location at Bunnings Warehouse in 2013, who refurbished the crustacean to its 35 tonne, steel and concrete state, at a cost of over $400,000.
BIG PRAWN: Originally opened in 1989, the big Prawn was moved to its current location at Bunnings Warehouse in 2013, who refurbished the crustacean to its 35 tonne, steel and concrete state, at a cost of over $400,000. Alina Rylko

Ballina already has the Big Prawn, our friends at Coffs have the Big Banana, and we all envy Tully their Big Gumboot, but what could be the next big thing to draw tourists from far and wide?

Apparently, Aussies are obsessed with 'big things', and travel website Wotif has announced a nationwide search to gift an Aussie town or city the 'Next Big Thing'.

 

the big banana. 17 January 2018
the big banana. 17 January 2018 Trevor Veale

They say big things are a "cult Aussie phenomenon" and want to add to the list of more than 150 unique Australian icons.

New research commissioned by Wotif highlights Australians' love for 'big things', finding 90 per cent of Australians have visited a 'big thing' in their lifetime and the average traveller has visited five 'big things'.

More than half (60 per cent) of Australians will stop off if they see a 'big thing' while on the highway, and almost two out of five (39 per cent) Australians will travel out of their way - believing a visit to a 'big thing' improves any road trip.

The research reveals there's a deep sense of pride for 'big things' among Aussies (60 per cent), with an overwhelming 80 per cent believing these structures are 'uniquely Australian', showcasing the fun-loving spirit of the nation.

Wotif Managing Director, Daniel Finch points to the significance of the 'Next Big Thing'.

"As Wotif enters its 18th year, we want to celebrate with the Australian public and give back to the people that have helped Wotif evolve: destinations, tourism providers and travellers. What better way to do this than by giving Australia something synonymous with the tourism landscape, and which all Aussies love - the 'Next Big Thing'?

"With more Aussies opting to travel locally and domestic travel predicted to grow by 21 per cent over the next 10 years, our decision to give Aussies just another reason to discover their own backyard, is something we feel passionate about," Mr Finch said.

"Regional Australia plays a critical role in the Australian tourism industry, accounting for 44 cents of every tourism dollar spent here. But it is often overlooked," Mr Finch said.

"As the search for Australia's 'Next Big Thing' begins, we are excited to be able to put not just the big cities, but also regional areas on the map - to create excitement within these communities and a new reason to visit, helping to boost local economies."

Back your own Backyard

The nationwide search will ask Australians to submit their suggested 'big thing' idea and its proposed Aussie location via Wotif's 'Next Big Thing' landing page. Aussies can nominate a a person, food, animal, or any other object - as long as it's big, and from Cabramatta (NSW) to Cooladdi (QLD), all destinations, right across Australia are eligible.

Public entries will be judged by Wotif, with a shortlist of finalists announced on Tuesday, September 25. Throughout the process, those that will really get noticed may show, amongst other things, originality, imagination, a relevance to the local area and represent the intrinsic uniqueness of a 'Big Thing'.

The final winner of the 'Next Big Thing' will then be chosen by the nation in a two-week voting process to take place September 25 - (midday) October 9, with Australia's 'Next Big Thing' planned to be built and unveiled by the end of the year.

Mr Finch said: "We know from our research that 40 per cent of Australians wish there were more 'big things' to visit and more than a quarter have their own great ideas for new 'big things' that can be built. Wotif prides itself on its 2 million+ verified reviews, and wants to take this one step further by letting Aussies decide on the country's next 'Big Thing' tourist attraction.

"It's over to you Australia - back your favourite Aussie destination and have a say on what you think the 'Next Big Thing' should be," Mr Finch said.

To nominate a town, city or suburb and to suggest the 'Next Big Thing' idea, visit www.wotif.com/nextbigthing.