The Story of The Big Golden Gumboot
Boots are well-represented in the list of Big Things of Australia. There is The Big Ugg Boots in Thornton, New South Wales, The Big Boot in Chermside, Queensland, and now The Big Golden Gumboot found in Tully, also in Queensland.
The Big Golden Gumboot’s name comes from a unique competition among the Far North Queensland towns, including Tully, Babinda and Innisfail. The goal of this competition was to determine the wettest town in Australia, with the winner taking home the enormous boot.
The Wet Tropics is another name for the region covering the three towns, originally surrounded by rainforest. So naturally, the three towns receive the highest amount of rainfall in Australia because of the monsoonal rain cyclones. As a result, they were considered the best candidates for such a competition.
Tully qualified as the winner owing to the rain recorded in the year 1950. It received an outstanding 7,900 millimetres of rain throughout the year. As a result, the Big Golden Gumboot was built 7.9 metres high and then erected in the town. However, Babinda is said to have recorded more rainfall in recent years, capable of knocking Tully off the perch.
Sponsored by the Tully Lion and Rotary Club, the construction of the huge gumboot cost AUD 90,000. The final product was unveiled on May 10, 2003.
The enormous gumboot structure was designed and fabricated by Brian Newell. He made it into a building with a staircase leading to its top, providing visitors with a view of the surrounding area. Additionally, visitors can also view historical photographs of floods and cyclones in the district inside the Big Gumboot. These photographs have been mounted on the spiral walls leading up the staircase.
Although the Big Golden Boot was made of fibreglass for reinforcement, the structure had to be closed in 2011 because of damages caused by Cyclone Yasi. However, it was reopened in 2012 after restoration, thanks to funding from insurance claims and donations.