Picture the scene: you’re driving across Australia, making your way around some of the most incredible scenery the world has to offer. There are flora and fauna like nothing you’ve ever seen when, in the distance, something looms large.
You wonder what it could be. A deformed tree? A kangaroo gone supersize? A joke?
As you get closer and get full sight of the magnificent thing, you realise it’s actually a giant metal sculpture of a man clutching a massive fishing rod.
You, my friend, have just experienced one of the Big Things of Australia. Specifically, The Big Bogan. Read on to find out more.
What are the Big Things of Australia?
The Big Things of Australia are a loosely related set of large structures, some of which are novelty sculptures, such as fruits and vegetables and native animals. Others are architecture. There are estimated to be over 150 such objects around the country, and you can find one within every state and territory in continental Australia.
Many of the big things began as tourist attractions along significant roads between destinations, encouraging people to visit smaller towns along the way to more established cities. Love them or hate them, they’ve become a bit of a phenomenon, with many people using them as an excuse for a road trip and others seeking to see how many they can tick off on their travels.
What is The Big Bogan?
The Big Bogan is a steel statue located in the town of Nyngan in New South Wales, Australia – a 575-kilometre drive north-west of Sydney in the central west region. Nyngan itself is situated in Bogan Shire, and so it seemed fitting to have a statue that gave a cheeky nod to the name of the wider area the town sits within.
The statue depicts a man with a beard wearing a cap, singlet and thongs. He is holding a fishing rod and giving the ‘thumbs-up’ sign having just caught a large fish. At his feet is an ‘esky’ with ‘Bogan Shire’ etched across the front. The statue was erected on the 9th of September 2015.
What is the Meaning of ‘Bogan’?
Despite the humour behind the statue, when plans for its construction were announced it created a bit of a controversy – and to this day many locals are split about its presence in their town. This controversy stems from the meaning of ‘bogan’.
Bogan is Australian and New Zealand slang for a person whose speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour are considered unrefined or unsophisticated. The Australian National Dictionary defines a bogan as: “an uncultured and unsophisticated person; a boorish and uncouth person.”
Generally speaking, bogan is not a positive term, and although it is often used in jest, you can probably imagine why some people wouldn’t want to have a giant sculpture depicting a stereotypical ‘bogan’ in the middle of their picturesque town.
What else is Worth Visiting Near the Big Bogan?
Aside from the Big Bogan, Nyngan is a modern rural township. Located on the Bogan River, it offers warm hospitality, as well as the opportunity to undertake many water sports to enjoy and take in the scenery the river has to offer. This includes canoeing, kayaking, water-skiing, fishing and boating. The Nyngan Riverside Tourist Park is a fantastic spot to set up camp for your visit. Located on the river banks across 15 spacious acres, the park offers camping and caravan spots, as well as cabins that cater to all types of individuals and families.
Other local attractions that are worth checking out include the Nyngan Museum, Mid-Sate Shearing Shed Museum, Chinese Graves and Burner, and a cairn – marking the centre of New South Wales.
5 Interesting Facts About the Big Bogan
Read on the learn more about the Big Bogan itself and five interesting facts about its construction:
- The idea for the sculpture initially came from the town’s Anglican Church Minister.
The St. Mark’s Anglican Church Minister, Reverand Graham McLeod, came up with the idea of erecting a big sculpture that will draw tourists to Nyngan. He had initially mentioned to Bogan Shire Engineering Services Manager, Graeme Bourke, that the town would benefit from an attraction like a ‘big bogan. Bourke then approached the Bogan Shire Council and asked them to consider funding the project.
2. The Big Bogan took less than a year to build.
The Bogan Shire Council approved funding for the sculpture in early 2015 and constructing began in March 2015. On the 9th of September 2015, the statue was officially erected on the bank of the Bogan River.
3. The design of the statue was created digitally first.
The original design for the structure was first created using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software. This was then sent to a local steel supplier – Giles Engineering of Nyngan – who cut the design out steel using plasma cutting equipment.
4. The statue is made out of several pieces of steel welded together.
Bourke, who took the lead on designing the structure has said it was no easy feat bringing all the parts together. In an interview with community newspaper The Standard, he said: “I had to think about it for a long time, he had to have a mullet, singlet, thongs and I put the fishing rod and fish in because I wanted something to tie him to the Bogan River.”
Two pieces of steel were cut out first to make the full figure of the bogan, and these were then welded together with a steel frame in between them for support. The front section had all the internal line work depicting the bogan’s features, while the back remained plain. A steel plate was then welded around the perimeter of the figure to hide the internal frame and give the statue a more ‘solid’ look.
Once the central statue was formed, the fishing rod and the esky were added. The fishing rod and the fish are made from a combination of steel, pipe and stainless steel cable. The esky is made from steel plate, with an added hardwood lid so that it does not become too hot – and tourists can still sit on it for their photos!
5. The Big Bogan was initially supposed to be only 3.5metres tall.
The original plan for the statue was that it would be 3.5 metres high, but after the initial design work was completed, it turned out it would need to be a little bigger to accommodate the proposed framework. The final product is 5.96 metres tall, with a surface area of 7.45 square metres, and weighs close to 1500Kg!
Despite some initial dislike from locals, the Big Bogan has quickly become a prominent tourist attraction from the town, and many have had to concede that it’s been a great addition.
Have you managed to visit the Big Bogan on your Australia travels yet? Share your experience and photos in the comments below – we’d love to hear about it!
If you’re interested in reading about more of the Big Things of Australia, we recommend reading THE BIG PENGUIN, PENGUIN’S “BIG THING”
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.