The Big Merino

The Story of the Big Merino in Goulburn Australia

The Big Merino
The Big Merino. Source: Creative Commons

Australia is famous for so many good things, but recently, the ‘big’ things have taken the tourism industry by storm. These are basically large structures, which consist of novelty architecture or sculptures, located along major roads, towns, or cities to showcase and celebrate a certain aspect of the local history. Such aspects may include activities such as farming, sports and recreation, religion, tradition, and culture. One such ‘big thing’, which is our main focus today, is the Big Merino sheep.

What is the Big Merino?

The Big Merino, also known as ‘Rambo’ by locals, is a tall merino ram monument made of concrete. It is one of the most iconic big things in Australia, attracting thousands of local and international visitors every year. This blog covers everything you need to know about the Big Merino, including its location, history, fun things to do at the complex, and so much more! If you are a fan of the ‘big’ things in Australia and you haven’t yet visited this historic statue, this information should guide you as you plan your visit.

Why is the Big Merino called ‘Rambo’?

The Big Merino is named after Rambo, a stud ram from ‘Bullamallita’, a local pastoral property.

The real Rambo was owned by a prominent district wool grower named Robert Peden, who died on July 9, 2020 aged 79. The award-winning ram weighed 72 kilograms and had 16.5-micron wool.

Location of the Big Merino

The Big Merino is located in Goulburn, a regional city in New South Wales, Australia. The city is well-known for its pastoral industry, which mostly consists of sheep, cows, and pigs.

A brief history of the Big Merino in Goulburn

This iconic structure was officially opened on September 20, 1985. Its initial address was No. 98 Hume St, Goulburn. Following the construction of the Hume Highway in 1992, the number of tourists visiting the Big Merino declined drastically, resulting into a loss of at least 40 busloads a day.

As a result, the Big Merino was transferred to a location closer to the Hume Highway and its former location was occupied by a drive-through car wash. Rambo now sits near the freeway interchange at a service station.

Why was the Big Merino built?

The gigantic structure was built to celebrate the 200-year-old fine wool industry in Goulburn at its surrounding districts. It was officially launched by the then federal minister for sport, recreation and tourism, John Brown. Brothers Attila and Louis Mokany came up with the initial idea, which was later transformed into reality by a builder named Glenn Senner from Adelaide.

The structure, which consists of a steel frame, wire mesh and concrete, took six months to build. Gary Dutallis was the architect behind its construction.

The Big Merino size and measurements

Standing at 15.2 meters high and 18 meters long, the Big Merino is one of the biggest ‘big’ things in Australia. It weighs about 100 tons, which translates to 90718.5 kilograms.

Initially, prior to being moved to the new location, Rambo weighed 97 tons. The new weight was as a result of the construction of the under belly and the addition of three new legs to make it more complete and free-standing.

The Big Merino balls is one of the most photographed parts of this enormous monument. The ‘balls’ are so huge that they literally penetrate the roof of the souvenir shop, which sits under the belly of the beast. Given that they attract a lot of attention from visitors and locals, the concrete ‘balls’ of the Big Merino have been previously used to create awareness about various social issues. In 2014, the balls were painted blue to raise awareness for prostate and testicular cancer.

If you are lucky enough, you may secure a parking spot right behind the balls of the monument. There’s usually two parking spots available for the perfect view of the ‘biggest balls in Australia.’

The Big Merino balls
A view of the Big Merino balls. Source: Twitter

The Big Merino balls have created a sense of humor among the locals and tourists; there’s actually a Facebook page specifically dedicated to this one part of the monument. 

Fun things to do inside the Big Merino

Visit the gift shop – On the ground floor of the Big Merino NSW, there is a gift shop that offers hundreds of wool products for sale. There are lots of wool garments available, Australian made sheepskins, luxurious possum merino knitwear and so much more. Here, you can also purchase souvenirs, lanolin products and cosmetics.

The Big Merino shop features clothing and knitwear for both men, women, and kids. There are also hundreds of wool toys for kids, which include hand puppets, dolls and more.

Check out the wool display – The second floor features a wool display that will leave you more enlightened about this industry and its rich history.

Look through the Big Merino’s eyes – At the top floor, visitors can view the surroundings through the merino’s eyes.

Take beautiful pictures – Given that this monument is considered one of the ‘big’ things in Australia, taking pictures of your visit to the complex is one of the best ways to keep the memories alive for generations. You can take pictures of yourself with the gigantic structure in the background, or even inside it while shopping for your favorite wool product. When night falls, the security lights at the Big Merino make the whole structure look even more photogenic. In 2015, for example, green lights flashed through the eyes of the iconic monument to raise awareness for green energy.

The Big Merino glow
The Big Merino eyes flashing green in 2015. Source: Buzzfeed Australia

Things you’ll learn when you visit the Big Merino

Just like any other ‘big’ thing in Australia, there’s so much to learn when you visit the Big Merino. This structure has opened up Goulburn to the world through tourism. It has also increased awareness about wool farming while promoting related products.

One of the things you’ll learn is the history of wool in Australia. Inside the merino, you’ll be exposed to priceless information and photos that travel way back into history books, just to give you a deeper understanding of what wool farming is all about. A visit to the Big Merino Australia is ideal for individuals, friends, families and even school kids. The kind of knowledge offered at this popular complex is not age-sensitive; it is, in fact, ideal for anyone who has an interest in wool farming or wool-related products.

Additionally, some wool products may be rare to find in different parts of Australia but easily available at the Big Merino Goulburn. Given that the town is famous for wool production, you can always be guaranteed of finding high quality wool products at the Big Merino shop to keep you warm and comfortable.

The history of wool aside, visitors can also learn more about wool processing techniques. The gift shop at the Big Merino NSW complex provides information about wool processing from harvesting to the final product, to inform and inspire anyone interested in this type of business.

If you are a fan of travelling, you probably know how good it feels to be part of a new culture just by sharing their experiences and treasuring what the locals consider important, valuable, or sacred. That’s the kind of feeling you get when you visit the Big Merino in Goulburn. Given that it is a symbol of the city and an important aspect of their history and culture, you will be directly contributing to the growth of the local wool industry just be visiting this iconic structure.

Visitors usually don’t need to pay any fee to view the inside of the merino, but it would be nice to spend a dollar or two on some of the items being sold at the gift shop. While this is not mandatory, it goes a long way in supporting the small town and local sheep farmers.

Things to do around the Big Merino

If you are planning to visit this historic monument, especially if you are travelling from overseas, you may be interested in knowing what else to do around the town. Of course, you just don’t want to visit Rambo and leave; there’s so much to see and do around town.

There are so many restaurants within a few miles of the Big Merino, where you can have some authentic Australian food. You can also visit the Belmore Park, Rocky Hill War Memorial and Museum, Yerranderie, and the Goulburn Historic Waterworks Museum. For more information about things to do and places to visit in this town, you can always visit or call the Goulburn Visitor Information Centre.

There are at least 150 ‘big’ things in Australia and the Big Merino is one of the most iconic. The structure’s massive size and the creativity behind its design are just some of the reasons it attracts thousands of tourists every year. While there are other big things in the country, this merino stands tall and proud, telling the story of a real-life legendary ram, its owner, and the town’s pastoral lifestyle.

If you enjoyed this post, we recommend reading our article about The Big Banana.

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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