I find it difficult not to buy into the discussion on whether Darwin should have its own iconic “Big Thing” and, if so, what that should be. To be frank, I’ve always thought we should have our own “Big Thing”, and you don’t have to be a quiz master to guess what I’m tipping. I most definitely believe we should have a massive effigy of a barramundi in our CBD. There are more than 150 “Big Things” around the country, but not a single one of them is representative of a major tourist attraction to anywhere near the extent of the Northern Territory’s barramundi. The famous Big Banana in Coffs Harbour is a great tourist attraction in itself, but no one goes to Coffs to see, catch or eat bananas. Belconnen’s Big Mushroom provides some nice shade, but no one goes there for the mushrooms. The Big Bull at Wauchope is just that, a lot of bull, and bovines are all over the country and only exist for tourists as Wagyu. The Big Cheese in Bodalla didn’t do a good job attracting visitors; the former cheese factory closed in 2013. The Big Golden Guitar at Tamworth is a legitimate representation of a major tourist drawcard, but only for the two weeks of the Tamworth Country Music Festival. Goulburn’s Big Merino is impressive at 15m x 18m, but it was bypassed by the Hume Highway is 1992, leading to a reduction in visitor numbers. Anyway, who the hell visits a region for its sheep? Here’s a good one: the Big Mosquito “Ozzie the Mozzie” at Hexham is modelled on the local mosquito species known as “Hexham Greys”, but is more likely to scare visitors away than attract them. Ballina’s the Big Prawn is a beauty, fronting a Bunnings store so you know where to get a sausage sizzle from miles away. There are a couple of Big Murray Cod effigies around the place: one at Tocumal and another at Swan Hill. The amount of interstaters heading for the Murray River to chase cod doesn’t even rate compared to the barramundi’s tourist-drawing powers. In any event, there aren’t too many cod left after the drought in south-east Australia. Cairns’ Big Marlin is a bit like a potential Big Barra in Darwin, but big marlin fishing is not something that can be done with a small trailer boat or a tinny, so excludes a huge percentage of travelling fishos. Normanton’s Big Crocodile is definitely on my bucket list, mainly because it’s a replica of the 8.63m crocodile shot on the banks of the Normanton River in 1957. Seriously, I reckon our Adelaide River croc-jumping tours have Normanton covered as far as tourists go. There are a couple of Big Barramundi: one at Daintree and one also at Normanton. They’re both small Queensland towns and all the more reason for Darwin to flaunt its own gigantic Big Barra. The point is that tens of thousands of people visit the Top End every year primarily to fish for our famous barramundi. It’s a cash crop in respect of tourism, and is at the heart of our major recreational fishing industry. Our own Tourist Commission knows this: hello, remember Million Dollar Fish. I heard someone on the radio the other day dismiss the barramundi as a potential “Big Thing” for Darwin because there’s a Big Barra on the roof of Katherine Rod and Rifle Tackle World. Good on the shop, and the De With family who run it, but Katherine is not Darwin, our NT capital city. One of the reasons for having a “Big Thing” is for tourists to pose for the camera in front of it. In this day and age when everyone carries a camera, all the more reason to have a “Big Barra”. Photos of it would forever be rife on social media, and that would only alert an increasing number of people to the fact that the NT is the place to come catch a barra. Shove it in The Mall I say, and make it huge, thereby attracting many more people to the CBD. Many visitors to Darwin would flock to The Mall to see the “big barra”, especially if we were smart with its design. The photo on this page of the taxidermy barra in a snag eyeing off a couple of mullet adorns by rear office wall. I couldn’t tell you how many people have had their photo taken in front of it. It’s not just a big old barra, but it’s a depiction of a great predatory fish – our premier national sportfish – in its natural habitat doing its thing. Let’s have something like that, although it’ll probably be too late for my two bucks worth; I believe Council met last night to decide on whether Darwin will have a ”Big Thing” or not.
How about this predatory barra in its natural habitat as Darwin’s “Big Thing”?
Daniel Wood kindly posed with Stewie Martin’s terrific barra caught on a Bomber Long Shot.
Andy Taylor is no stranger to big threadfin salmon, although he’s a stranger all round hidden behind the head sock.