The Big Murray Cod is one of the most popular Big Things in Australia. Nicknamed ‘Goodoo’, the Aboriginal name of the cod fish, this big fish sculpture is one of a kind. While fish need water to survive, the Big Murray Cod doesn’t. It proudly sits in the open air, posing for photographs with both locals and tourists alike, while enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Big Murray Cod.
Location of the Big Murray Cod
The Big Cod is in Tocumwal, New South Wales, Australia. The town is located along the banks of the Murray River, and 270 kilometres north of the city of Melbourne. Due to town’s proximity to the Murray River, it is quite obvious that fishing is one of the main economic activities in the region. The Murray cod, in particular, is one of the most popular types of fish found in the waters of the Murray River.
The legend of the Murray Cod
The Murray Cod sculpture in Tocumwal aside, let’s take a look at the inspiration behind its design and construction in the first place.
Legend has it that in 1883, at least 147,000 kg of cod was sent from the town of Moama to Melbourne, for sale. As a result of the excessive unregulated fishing, the famous cod was in short supply by the 1920s. The dwindling numbers of this beloved fish threatened the future of the commercial fishing industry.
The commercial aspect aside, most of the local tribes depended on fish as their main source of food. When the Murray River couldn’t sustain the demand for fish anymore as a result of the unregulated commercial fishing, the locals were desperate for a solution.
Then came Ngurunderi, a great local fish hunter from Ngarrindjeri Country.
According to the story, one day, as Ngurunderi was fishing, he came across a huge ancestral cod nicknamed Pondi or Ponde. He did not waste time; the brave hunter chased the monstrous cod down the river in an attempt to trap it.
The oversized fish, frightened by the hunter’s bravery and willingness to navigate through murky waters to earn his ultimate prize, finally gave up at Lake Alexandrina when a carefully aimed spear ended the chase.
Ngurunderi the hunter then cut up the huge cod into smaller chunks but because it was too heavy to carry home, he threw some of the pieces into the water. Legend has it that some of the parts that were thrown back into the water became other species of fish.
One part of Pondi (or Ponde) was also thrown into the water and remained the Murray cod. The brave hunter feasted on the remaining part of the legendary fish. This legendary story was then passed down to several generations and in 1968, the people of Tocumwal decided to honour the massive fish in a massive way.
The story of the Big Murray Cod sculpture in Tocumwal
By now, hopefully, you understand why the Big Murray Cod in Tocumwal was constructed in the first place. It was basically meant to honour the Big Murray Cod hunted by the legendary Ngurunderi.
In 1967, at a meeting held by the Women’s Auxiliary of Tocumwal Chamber of Commerce, it was decided that the town deserved something to put it on the map. After considering different aspects of the region’s history, the story of the Big Murray Cod stood out. Therefore, the meeting concluded that a sculpture honouring the legendary Murray cod would be the best way to tell the story of that part of Australia.
At first, it wasn’t easy to construct the Big Murray Cod sculpture; money was needed to initiate the project. As a result, some of the women held card nights, dances, and a host of other events to raise the much-needed funds to construct the gigantic fish monument. Just next to the Big Murray Cod, there is a summary of the story of this big fish inscribed on a concrete slab. According to the writings on the slab, the three women who spearheaded the fundraiser for the construction of this big fish sculpture were Miss Kathryn (Trixie) Moore, Mrs Lona Nash, and Miss Alice Johnson (Gibson). The trio raised a total of three thousand pounds.
After raising the amount, the building and construction contract was awarded to Melbourne-based company Duralite Company. Upon its completion, the Big Murray Cod became the second Big Thing to go on display in Australia.
It is worth noting that the first Big Thing was the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. It was built in 1964 to promote a local banana stall.
Construction of the Big Murray Cod
Just like many other Big Things across Australia, the 20-foot Big Murray cod consists of a fiberglass frame and an eight-piece mould. The fibreglass frame is supported by steel bars and strutting. The body of the big cod was spray painted, and the finer details were added by hand.
Prior to being moved to its current location, the Big Murray Cod was first installed next to an old swimming pool. At its current location next to the shores of the Murray River, the big fish is surrounded by picnic areas and playgrounds for children.
Its current location is popular among families, couples, and individuals as it offers a beautiful view of the famous Murray River, and provides the ultimate outdoors experience.
The Big Murray cod aside, there is also other exciting things to do in Tocumwal. Good examples include visiting the Tocumwal Railway Heritage Museum, Tocumwal Blowhole, and the Tocumwal Town Beach. If you are a fan of nature and outdoor living, you will have fun exploring the WAAF Creek Walk and relaxing at the Tocumwal Foreshore. For first time visitors, the Tocumwal Visitor Information Centre is a great starting point to exploring the town and learning more about its history.
If you enjoyed reading this article we think you would love to read our article about The Big Pineapple!
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.