I sometimes think that one could write an autobiography based on books that have had a significant influence at various points along the way in one’s life. For example, my years from about 9 to 12 were influenced by reading several of the “William” books by Richmal Crompton. (I just looked up William books in Wikipedia, and learnt that William possessed an “unfailing belief in his own ingenuity and righteousness”! I’ll have to think about that!)
Another book that I can remember being impressed by in the 1970s was “Small is Beautiful” by E F Schumacher. It was subtitled “A Study of Economics as if People Mattered”. In 1995, it was included in a list of “The 100 Most Influential Books Published since World War 2”, published in The Times Literary Supplement.
And here I am about to talk about Australians’ love for BIG THINGS. There are more than 200 big things, located all around the country. People have even been known to plan a road trip to take in as many big things as possible, with a photo taken at each one.
I was prompted to write about Big Things by two events:
1. I was recently in Tasmania, and visiting the Longley International Hotel near Hobart, when I suddenly found myself confronted by a Big Thing, in this instance a Big Axe. Impressive!
2. Returning from a recent trip to Quilpie in south-west Queensland (see Bobby Dazzler Newsletter #81), we passed through the small town of Dunedoo, about 60 km north of Mudgee in New South Wales. When later reading up about Dunedoo, I discovered that in the early 2000s, there was a proposal put to the good folk of Dunedoo to ginger up the flow of tourists to the town by building the “Big Dunny” there. (If you don’t know what Aussies mean by “dunny”, you can Google it.) It was to be a three-story building, featuring five-star toilets, a visitors’ centre, and even a radio station. But some po-faced locals thought it would be an embarrassment, and it was never built.
Some of Australia’s impressive Big Things are:
- The Big Cane Toad (Sarina, Qld)
- The Big Slide Rule (University of Tasmania, Hobart)
- The Big Worm (250 metres! Bass, Victoria)
- The Big Ugg Boots (Thornton, NSW)
- The Big Wheelbarrow (Port Hedland, WA)
- The Big Hat (Cradock, SA)
You can see a reasonably comprehensive list by going to Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org ) and searching on “Australia’s Big Things”. Sure makes you feel proud to be an Aussie!
PS: How about writing a comment below to tell us about a book that’s been very influential in your life.