Meet Larry the Big Lobster

The Big Lobster
(Image free to use – courtesy of Wikimedia)

In the town of Kingston SE, which is in the beautiful state of South Australia, there stands a 17-meter-tall Lobster statue. You would think a small town such as Kingston SE would have their statue of choice be a historical monument or based on a historical person related to the town’s history. However, this particular tourist attraction features a giant red crustacean, also known as ‘the Big Lobster’.

The History of its Creation

The story begins when Ian Backler was touring around the United States when he came up with the idea of ramping up tourism in his hometown in South Australia. Because of his background as a lobster fisherman, he thought, why not create a giant statue of the crustacean he had spent so much time around? He then considered building a visitor center and situated out the front he wanted none other than a beautiful, big, and vibrantly red lobster

When he set foot back in Australia, he decided to partner up with Rob Moyse and Ian Hannaford who would be able to help make his plans a reality. Together, they set off and secured a plot of land to start construction of the complex in Kingston SE.

Unfortunately, things took a different turn when the local authorities got involved. Backler and Moyse originally wanted the statue to rear up over the front of the complex. However, regulations brought up by the town government of Kingston SE contested that the Big Lobster should be built at the front of the complex instead. Backler and Moyse had no other option but to comply, otherwise, the Lobster statue wouldn’t have made it to fruition.

The Construction

Before Larry the Lobster was constructed, designer Paul Kelly opted to use a real lobster as a model. Kelly had the crustacean stuffed and he used it for reference while constructing Larry. He then began measuring the lobster and all of its parts in inches and then multiplied the measurements up to meters.

Due to its humungous stature, Kelly already knew that it would be impossible to transport a lobster this size in one piece. So, he began to work on it piece by piece, starting from the inside and then proceeding out.

Paul started to work on the Big Lobster’s intricate details first, carving everything out of foam. However, the sea creature had a lot of delicate features so basing it off of a regular-sized lobster proved to be even more difficult than anticipated. But at that time, Paul Kelly had already built the Big Scotsman in Medindie (which is also included in Big Things in Australia), so it wasn’t a failure from the start, and he was prepared for any challenge he would face.

After finishing off the details of Larry, it was time to work on his body and frame to prepare for completion. The spiny lobsters build consists of extended and thick antennae and four legs on either side. Fortunately, they do not have big claws that might have added to the challenge. The shell was then constructed from high-quality fibreglass and steel frames were added for strength and support for this massive structure.

Once all of the pieces were complete, they were transported from Edwardstown to the site where it still stands tall and proud today. Larry was assembled onsite, and it took up to six months for the construction to be complete. However, he was very much worth the wait.

Once again, issues sparked when Ian Backler and Paul Kelly had some disagreements about the total cost, which ultimately ended with both of them in court. Kelly lost the battle and the feud made him go bankrupt.

The People Who Owned Larry the Lobster

Although the project was deemed a success and the Big Lobster has attracted a great number of tourists, it hasn’t always been easy. After 15 years of successfully running the complex, original owners Ian Backler and Rob Moyse sold Larry on 1984. However, maintenance to keep the structure bright and attractive proved to be an expensive investment and a time-draining experience, especially when the other establishments around the statue weren’t earning much either.

Eric and Kath Peltz bought the Big Lobster from its unnamed previous owners in 1990. However, the curse of Larry the Lobster continued when the ownership didn’t last once again. They ultimately decided to put it up for sale in 2001. However, it took six years for it to be finally sold to Jenna Lawrie and Casey Sharpe in 2007. The two gave Larry a makeover of steam-cleaning and repainting, and they also had the site renovated.

Demolition and Relocation Plans

Despite making it to the list of Big Things in Australia, the Big Lobster was originally created to attract tourists. It succeeded in stirring up a crowd during the beginning of the era, but it didn’t last long. Businesses located around the structure soon began to close down. The owners had planned on having the crustacean demolished in 2015 due to its deteriorating state, no funds to keep it in shape, and a lack of tourists.

In 2016, radio partners Hamish and Andy started a campaign they called #PinchAMate to help with the fundraising to help keep the statue maintained. The fundraiser was a success, and it helped raise over $30,000 for repairs, cleaning, and repainting of the ever so wonderful Larry.

With the original plan to attract visitors failing, decisions were made to transfer the statue from the South to Western Australia. However, before that could happen, local millionaire Thomas Brinkworth purchased the site in 2018.

What to Do Where the Big Lobster Is

The Big Lobster is located in a 4,200-square-metre private property overlooking the Princes highway. This location is great for those who are going on a long drive and need to stretch their legs out for a while before hopping back in the car.

This statue stands tall and proud at 17 meters tall, 15 meters long, and 13 meters wide. It weighs more than 7 tonnes, which easily explains why it had to be built and assembled in two separate places. These measurements are also the reason it earned its place in the Big Things of Australia.

Admission is free to meet and take pictures with Larry, so anyone who wants to see Larry the Lobster can take pictures, videos, and simply enjoy his massive presence for as long as they please! A nearby restaurant, a tourist center, a playground for the children, and a wine tasting area are there to accompany tourists on their ventures. The restaurant serves a wide variety of dishes with their specialty lobster meal. If you prefer, you can also purchase fresh lobster that you can take home and cook different dishes with.

If you’re planning on staying for the weekend, there are a few hotels near the location. Construction for adding accommodation services was planned during the Big Lobster’s formation, but there is still no news about it happening anytime soon.

Have you managed to visit the Big Lobster on your Australia travels yet? Share your experience and photos in the comments below – we’d love to hear about it!

If you enjoyed reading about the Big Lobster, we think you would love our post about the Big Galah.

We also have a Big Things store featuring T-shirts on some of the most famous big things in Australia. These include The Big penguin, The Big Kangaroo, The Big Jumping Crocodile and The Giant Koala. They are available in baby sizes all the way up to adult sizes.

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