The Story of The Big Scout Hat
The Big Scout Hat sits atop an old military building on Grafton Street, Cairns City, Queensland. The building is commonly referred to as the Cairns Scout Hut but was initially known as the Cairns Control Room, the World War II Volunteer Defence Corps, and Cairns Scout Shop.
This military building was constructed in 1942 after the Australian army took over the national Volunteer Defence Corps in World War II. Its purpose was to reinforce the civil defence control centre of the army against air raids by the Japanese army. It also served as an easy access point for the police and ambulatory services for emergencies during air raids.
While other post-war buildings were demolished, the Cairns Scout Hut remained untouched. Instead, it was passed on to the Scouting Organization of Queensland and became its local headquarters.
In 1982, an oversized fibreglass scouting hat was built and placed atop the old concrete building. The oversized hat then made its way to the list of Big Things in Cairns as the Big Scout Hat.
Recently, the military building and its oversized hat were listed under the Queensland Heritage Register. As a result, they are protected by Queensland legislation and maintained by the state’s heritage council.
Cairns is also home to the Big Captain Cook, a statue of famous British explorer James Cook. This historic sculpture has sparked debates among locals on whether it should be demolished or relocated due to its controversial hand gesture, which supposedly resembles Adolf Hitler’s infamous ‘Nazi Salute.’
Many social organizations and movements, including ‘Black Lives Matter,’ want the statue demolished given that slavery was rampant during Cook’s era. However, in the statue’s defence, one historian argues that the hand gesture was captain Cook’s way of defending himself during an attack.
The Big Marlin is yet another Big Thing found in Cairns. Built in 1980, the giant marlin sculpture measures 10 metres long and 2 metres wide.