If you are a fan of Big Things in Australia, you have probably already heard about the Big Pineapple. This article focuses on everything you need to know about this famous tourist attraction complex, including its location, history, interesting facts, fun things to do, and so much more.
What is the Big Pineapple?
The Big Pineapple, one of the most popular Big Things in Australia, is a gigantic pineapple icon that has been the centre of attention both locally and internationally. It is also famously known as the Sunshine Plantation.
Location of the Big Pineapple
The heritage-listed pineapple icon is located at Nambour Connection Road, the town of Woombye, Sunshine Coast Region, in the north-eastern state of Queensland, Australia.
A brief history of the Big Pineapple
Following the increase in production of pineapples in Woombye, Eudlo, Beerburrum and Palmwoods in the late 1940s, there was a need to give these towns a sense of agricultural identity. In 1970, Bill Taylor, a former head of the Development Finance Section at the United Nations, and Lyn Taylor, an interior designer in the state of New York, returned to Australia to focus on agri-tourism. At the time, the concept of agri-tourism (the integration of tourism in agriculture) was still new in the region.
They purchased 23 hectares of pineapple farm from Gordon Ollet, the former owner of the Big Pineapple. By 1978, the Big Pineapple complex had become so popular that it attracted at least 800,000 visitors a year, including Prince Charles and Princes Diana of England. Sadly, around that time, it was destroyed by fire during an attempted robbery, but was reconstructed three months later.
In the 1990s, the complex featured a rainforest walk, an ‘Arts and Crafts Gallery’, an animal nursery and a ‘Wildlife Garden’. The Wildlife Garden was home to several native animals, including the koalas.
However, between 1996 and 2003, the Big Pineapple went through a rough time that threatened its own existence. In 2003, it owed the Australian Taxation Office at least $500,000 in unpaid taxes. Six years later, it went into receivership, and finally closed its operations between 2010 and 2011.
In 2011, a consortium purchased the Big Pineapple, consequently bringing it back to life with a new ‘master plan’. Currently, the gigantic structure is used to promote agricultural products from Queensland and hosts the Wildlife HQ Zoo and the Big Pineapple Music Festival.
Interesting facts about the Big Pineapple
Designed by Paul Luff, Gary Smallcombe and Associates, and Peddle Thorp and Harvey, the cylindrical-shaped structure stands 16 metres tall (52ft) and is made of fiberglass attached to a steel frame. The fiberglass has been painted and molded to match the texture and color of a real pineapple. The stalk and the viewing platform are also made of steel and painted to replicate an actual pineapple.
Inside the Big Pineapple, there are two levels; one is for exhibition and the other for accessing the viewing platform at the top. The bottom level can be accessed via an outside staircase. Each floor consists of painted steel posts and lined up with linoleum tiles. Basically, the inside of the iconic structure is designed to give tourists the feeling of being inside an actual pineapple.
The original purpose of the Big Pineapple was to create curiosity among drivers, and to encourage them to stop by and find out more about the structure, which was impossible to miss. This strategy worked as thousands of drivers stopped by the complex every year, consequently promoting Queensland’s economy and the state’s reputation as an agricultural hub.
Fun things to do at the Big Pineapple
Despite its up and downs, the Big Pineapple has always provided a sense of adventure to millions of visitors over the past four decades. Under the new owners, this gigantic icon offers a host of exciting activities for individuals, friends, families, corporates, and more.
Here are some of the most exciting things to do at the Big Pineapple.
The TreeTop Challenge – This challenge provides an adrenaline-filled experience for visitors wanting to get the most out of what the Big Pineapple has to offer. It features two kilometres of high ropes and zipline courses, and at least 120 fun activities that take at least half a day to complete.
Ride the Big Pineapple Train
For $5, take a tour of the Big Pineapple aboard this heritage-listed Pineapple Train. The train drives through the rainforest, bamboo forest, orchids and provides an up-close view of zoo animals. The train ride is considered the steepest and curviest climbing track in the state of Queensland. Kids under the age of 3 are usually allowed to ride free with the company of an adult.
Visit the Wildlife HQ Zoo
The zoo was built in 2014 after the closure of Alma Park Zoo in Brisbane. It houses a wide variety of Australian and exotic animals, including the only Sun Bear Maly in Queensland. Some notable facts about the Wildlife HQ Zoo at the Big Pineapple include:
- It is home to over 200 species of animals from all corners of the world
- It has one of the largest collections of primates in Queensland
- It is located in a rainforest environment to give the animals a homely feeling
- It is open every day of the week, except on Christmas Day.
- Visitors are not allowed past 3pm
For the best experience, visitors can take the Big Pineapple Train and ride to the Koala Station at the Wildlife HQ Zoo, where the train stops every half hour. Visitors can also book personal photos sessions with some animals in the zoo to keep the memories alive even after their visit. They can take pictures of themselves feeding meerkats, red pandas, monkeys or even cuddling a koala while learning about wildlife conservation.
Dine at the Zoo Café
The Zoo Café features the ultimate dining experience for animal lovers. Open daily from 9am to 2:30pm, the zoo gives you the rare chance to dine with the extremely endangered Cotton Top Tamarins. Some popular delicacies available at the café include burgers, sandwiches, carvery rolls, stretch sandwiches, and fruit salads. Vegetarians are also well-represented on the menu at the Zoo Café with several vegan diets to choose from.
Attend the Big Pineapple Music Festival
The Big Pineapple Field has been a popular venue for outdoor events such as parties and concerts since 2013. It provides an iconic, relaxed, and unique environment for hosting events while bonding with mother nature.
One of the most notable events held at the Big Pineapple Field is the Big Pineapple Music Festival, which features a host of Australian top musicians, and is usually sold out by the day of the event. This festival has earned the recognition of Qantas as one of the top 10 regional music festivals in Australia. In 2007, the Big Pineapple Music Festival featured the famous Midnight Oil in a sold-out concert, a further testimony of the venue’s popularity and ability to host world-class concerts.
Camp at the Big Pineapple
The venue also offers a hassle-free option for concert goers to camp at the site, saving them the costs of hotels and other traditional forms of accommodation.
Enjoy food tourism at the Big Pineapple
Most tourists visit the Big Pineapple to have an up-close view of this gigantic structure but that is not the only thing to do or see at the site. Food lovers can always sample different types of produce from Queensland at the Big Pineapple. Back in the days, the Big Pineapple was Australia’s most popular tourism attraction, and the good old days seem to be coming back thanks to the new ‘master plan’ set up by the consortium.
Visit the pineapple plantation
The main point of visiting the Big Pineapple is to witness this colossal icon up-close. However, visitors can also take a tour of the pineapple plantation and learn a thing or two about this fruit, and many others cultivated at the site and across Queensland. Such trips are usually beneficial and educational, making them ideal for family, school, or corporate outings.
The site also plans to offer micro-breweries, distilleries, restaurants, and a convention center in the future. But at the moment, there are countless options to choose from when it comes to food and beverages. The Big Pineapple recently welcomed Diablo Ginger Beer at the site, giving visitors ‘unrivalled refreshment and flavor’ thanks to natural ingredients from the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
There is no doubt that the Big Pineapple is experiencing a major comeback after some tumultuous years that almost threatened its existence. According to their official website, some notable ongoing upgrades at the complex in the recent past include:
- The construction of a good and tourism hub to promote Queensland’s agri-economy
- The creation of more tourist attraction sites, including a water park
- The availability of an events space
- The availability of camping services, eco-friendly villas and hotels, and an RV park
- A modern travel centre that features a service station
- A school camp for educational purposes
- The TreeTop Challenge to create an adventurous appeal
The criteria for Big Pineapple’s heritage listing
On March 6, 2009, the Big Pineapple cemented its place in the Queensland Heritage Register, a list of places in Queensland that are under the protection of the state’s legislation and the Queensland Heritage Act of 1992.
Prior to being listed, the state of Queensland determined that the Big Pineapple had reached the following requirements:
Demonstration of the evolution of Queensland’s history
The Big Pineapple complex had attracted thousands of tourists, both local and international, for many years. It contributed to the state’s development of agri-tourism.
Promotion of other industries in the region
By attracting tourists and promoting other features, industries and facilities of the region, the Big Pineapple complex painted Queensland in the global map, hence leading to the growth of other related industries in the region.
The aesthetic factor
Despite its ups and downs, the Big Pineapple was heritage-listed for its aesthetic appeal. The iconic pineapple has been featured in various publications both locally and internationally as an important landmark, consequently creating a sense of pride and identity among the residents of Queensland.
While there are tons of fun activities, places to visit, lessons to learn and things to see at the Big Pineapple, some may not be accessible to the public at the moment due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is always advisable to contact the Big Pineapple in advance before planning your trip in order to find out more about their policies for the sake of everyone’s safety and wellbeing.
There is no doubt that the Big Pineapple complex is a haven of adventure and other fun activities. When planning your list of Big Things in Australia to visit, do not forget to include this gigantic heritage-listed icon.
If you enjoyed this article about The Big Pineapple, we think you would love reading 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.