A drive down the Pacific Highway on the east coast of Australia is a must do at least once – from spectacular lookouts, lush rainforests and the sparkling blue coast, there is plenty to see. One thing you certainly won’t miss as you get close is the Big Banana.
If it’s been awhile since you visited, the Coffs Harbour attraction has certainly grown and changed over the years. Gone is the monorail and therefore the stop at the lagoon to see the Bunyip, but you can still find the Candy Kitchen with the delicious hand made boiled lollies, and the iconic chocolate coated bananas can still be found in the café.
While one of the more memorable attractions may be gone, there is plenty in its place to keep you busy.
History of the Big Banana
The Big Banana is located in the coastal city of Coffs Harbour, on the NSW east coast. It was one of the first “Big Things” built in Australia back in 1964. The region was well known for its banana plantations, so it was only natural for the Big Banana to be set amongst a local banana plantation and feature a walk-through banana.
The Big Banana really started the trend of Australia’s love of the “Big Things” but was originally never set up to be what it is today.
Back in 1964, the Big Banana was merely a means to stop traffic at a local roadside banana stall. John Landi took inspiration from the Big Pineapple in Hawaii, and a small coastal banana growing region became home to the world’s largest banana. The local Banana Growers Federation loved the idea and met half the construction costs.
Going through the hands of a number of owners, the Rubie family purchased the land and attraction from administrators in the early 90’s. They kicked off the development of the Big Banana Fun Park with the addition of the toboggan ride and the ice-skating rink in the mid to late 90’s.
A joint venture in 2005 seen the planning and addition of the remaining attractions in the fun park.
Interesting Facts about the Big Banana
An oversized fruit, sitting on the highway overlooking the ocean is sure to cause some interesting facts. In 1995, the attraction was voted as the most bizarre and grotesque tourist attraction in the world by 200 young Australian travellers, beating the Big Pineapple on the Sunshine Coast and the Giant Penis seat in the Sex Museum in Amsterdam.
Times have obviously changed, however. In October 2020, The Big Banana was awarded the title of the Best Big Thing in Australia through Wotif’s People’s Choice Awards, beating out the Big Pineapple, the Big Prawn and the Big Merino.
Interestingly, this “Big Thing” – which comes in at 13m long, 5m high and 2.4m wide, was finished in just three months, meaning it opened just in time for the Christmas tourist season.
If you went to the Big Banana as a kid, driving past or visiting now, you’re probably likely to think that the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour has shrunk – but that’s probably because you’ve grown up. While the banana was moved forward by a few metres and given a high platform (so that people could see if better from the highway), it hasn’t shrunk.
The Big Banana Fun Park is home to the largest water park between Sydney and the Gold Coast, meaning you’ve got a fantastic place to stop and cool down, while you won’t quite find another ice skating rink so easily accessible like the Big Banana ice skating rink.
Here’s another interesting fact: when you sit down to a banana sundae or some banana scones in the on-site café, it’s bananas that are grown in the plantations you see that have been used. These bananas tend to be much sweeter and tastier than those you’ll ever find in a supermarket, so we highly recommend grabbing yourself a bunch of locally grown bananas when you get the chance (you can thank us later).
Big Banana Attractions
While once the Big Banana was all about plantation tours, and children screamed in delight as the animatronic bunyip appeared in the lagoon as the monorail passed by, today the attraction has been turned into a must stop for those travelling the Pacific Highway between Sydney and the Gold Coast, as well as a weekend and school holiday attraction for locals.
The ice skating rink and the Tabogan Ride were installed relatively early on as part of the redevelopment of the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, and is now joined by laser tag, a water park, mini golf, a giant slide, and Reptile World. Visitors can take part in a Plantation Tour, watch boiled lollies being made in the Candy Kitchen, join in a cheesemaking workshop, and shop in the Opal Centre.
If you are travelling through, or staying in Coffs Harbour and plan to stop or stay a little while, you can purchase activity combo packages which will ensure you make the most of your day at the Big Banana Fun Park.
We’re pretty sure you’ll be heading home tired or looking for local accommodation for the night, particularly if you finish off your visit with some banana treats at the café and ice creamery. Make sure you also pick up some banana related products in the gift shop, whether that be a jar of banana jam, banana socks or a peeled banana paperweight.
Where is the Big Banana?
If you’ve ever travelled the Pacific Highway between the Gold Coast and Sydney, there’s a good chance you know exactly where the Big Banana is – it’s pretty hard to miss a big yellow banana on the side of the highway.
If you haven’t, you’ll find it located north of the main CBD of Coffs Harbour, a coastal city that sits around 4 hours south of the Gold Coast and around 5.5 hours north of Sydney.
Planning on staying in the area? There are a few nice, family friendly resorts just minutes away in Korora Beach, and plenty of options close to the beach in Park Beach and back in town. We can recommend grabbing fish and chips for lunch or dinner at the local Co-op at the Jetty, and a swim at one of the beaches close to town to cool off (make sure you swim between the flags, because there are a few beaches locally where it isn’t recommended to swim).
If you’re travelling the Pacific Highway and the kids are going slightly bananas in the backseat, a stop at the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour is sure to get them exhausted, and give you a few minutes (or hours) of peace. Doing a tour of the Big Things of Australia? Once you’ve finished exploring the Big Banana in Australia, head on over here to read all about the Big Bogan!
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.