The Weird Ones

The females lay green eggs while the male incubates them, without eating, drinking or defecating, for up to 55 days? Mrs Emu, meanwhile, buggers off to find some sweet lovin’ from another male. TNT does not condone this sort of behaviour.

Duck-billed Platypuses
When a platypus was first sent to England, scientists concluded that smart-arsed Aussies were taking the Michael. The feet and beak of a duck sewed to a rat’s body, surely? It lays eggs (like a bird), suckles its young (like a mammal) and has venom in its hind legs.

Koalas spend about 80 per cent of the day sleeping, 10 per cent eating and 10 per cent sitting. The koala is the only mammal in the world whose brain doesn’t fit its skull. Despite their big heads, 40 per cent of the space inside is just fluid. Plus they’re stoners.

These lovable little nocturnal critters have ears are bigger than Dr Spock’s. We love them, deeply. And we bet other animals tease them.

A monotreme, like the platypus, this is Australia’s hedgehog – but weirder. It’s a mammal with spines, that lays eggs but keeps its youngsters in a pouch and suckles them on pink milk that oozes from its nipple-less underside. Classy.

Funnelweb Spiders
You wouldn’t call it weird to its face. Its fangs are the size of a cat’s claws and its venom can kill a man. Often found in Sydney.

Giant Australian Cuttlefish
It won’t win any beauty competitions – the giant Australian cuttlefish has a big flat head with eight tentacles and very large eyes. It boasts three hearts, which pump blue blood. 

Frilled Lizards
The frilled lizard is a jester. When under attack, it either crouches down pretending to be a stick, or it jumps up and down and pretends to be violent. If none of that works it simply 
runs away. GL

The Big Plastic Ones

I can’t believe it. Australia, home to a plethora of Big Things – most of them animals – is not home to a Big Dick.

I searched high (Nimbin) and low (Tasmania) and found an exciting variety of Big Things, but discovered that only Nagoya in Japan has erected a Big Dick.But despair not. Australia is still home to some weird and, well, big, Big Things.

The Giant (angry) Koala. It’s impossible to create a giant koala without making it look like it’s gonna kill you. No matter how hard the artist tries, a giant koala face always ends up looking evil. Dadswells Bridge, on the Adelaide-Melbourne drive, is home to one of a few giant koalas found in Australia (Phillip Island has a couple, too, although they could really do with a giant fairy penguin). At Dadswells Bridge you walk through the koala’s tummy to the souvenir shop (maybe that’s why it looks so pissed off), and you can even sleep in its shadow in the cheap ‘70s-style motel next door. Just don’t go sleepwalking after dreaming about drop bears (see siebar. right).

The Dog on the Tuckerbox is absolutely the tiniest Big Thing in Australia. I don’t even know why I’ve included it, except that did, and, by the way people rave on about it (in songs and as part of Australian folklore) you’d assume it was HUGE. Yet it’s just a life-sized statue of, er, a small dog on a tuckerbox. It’s on the Melbourne to Sydney route and it’s entirely underwhelming, but at the same time a must-see.

It’s in ‘koala country’ (Underwood, QLD) that you’ll find the Big Gun. It’s a real one from World War II, weighs around seven tonnes and has a range of 30km. That’ll teach the drop bears. It was hoisted up on the Big Gun Fruit Mart in 1972 and at one stage overlooked a Cash Converter’s store, which goes to show that people will try to get cash for anything these days.

The Big Cigarette is in Myrtleford, Victoria, and if you’ve got a handy $13 million you can buy it, and the tobacco-selling complex it’s attached to. You see all this ‘no smoking’ hoo-ha has meant Myrtleford’s tobacco industry has gone up in smoke (sorry). Last year they didn’t plant tobacco, and this year’s March long-weekend ‘Tobacco, Timber and Hops Festival’ has been renamed the Mytleford Festival (8-10 March). Perhaps if they renamed the Big Cigarette the Big Fag they’d get more tourists?

The Big Joint has to be stronger than the Big Cigarette, but, since it is located in the famous dope-haven of Nimbin, NSW, it’s always at risk of being impounded by the cops or going up in flames. Next sighting is likely to be 4 May during Nimbin’s Cannabis Law Reform Rally and Parade. Participants are encouraged to line up ‘behind the BIG JOINT’. Inhaling is up to you.

Australia has an utterly ridiculous amount of Big Things – the vast majority, unsurprisingly, are found in Queensland. Other oversized objects include the Big Prawn, Lobster, Toad, Pie, Banana, Ned Kelly, Gumboot, Peanut, Stubby and the Big Golden Guitar. Not forgetting the Snowy Mountains’ Big Marino (ram), which had its testicles removed because they obscured someone’s bedroom window. JD

The Mythical Ones

Mythical creatures have been scaring children since the dawn of time. In Scotland it’s the Loch Ness Monster (or if you’re really gullible, the Wild Haggis), in Asia it’s the Yeti, and in parts of the US it’s Bigfoot. You’d think Australia had no need for fake fauna considering their real ones are crazy enough. Yet, whether from Aboriginal dreamtime, bush folklore or the tall tales of Australian soldiers, ‘monsters’ are lurking in the billabongs, bushland and the mountains of Oz…

The Bunyip
Varying greatly in their physical description from one sighting to the next, bunyips were often early settlers’ explanations of anything that went bump in the night. One constant is the Bunyip’s habitat: they’re found around billabongs, creeks and waterholes. Their call too has a common theme, the howling pain of a bunyip call is often confused with that of a koala on heat (seriously – worse than hearing your parents at it). One 18th century settler described it as “more God-awful than Celine Dion’s best of CD.” True story.

Not just a tale of naïve white settlers, bunyips live in Aboriginal memories too, their howling wails heard as they consumed their prey. In 1846 a mysterious skull was discovered by Murrumbidgee River, causing a bunyip frenzy. The skull disappeared and has never been located. Bunyip, or bunch o’crap?

The Drop Bear
Easily the silliest of Australia’s mythical animals, the Drop Bear is a large aggressive koala. Rather than being stoner vego-hippies, the Drop Bear is a savage carnivorous tree-dweller that drops from trees onto its prey. The story was popular during the World Wars, told by Aussies to gullible foreign soldiers, and is now favoured by tour guides. 

The Yowie
Similar to the Yeti or North America’s Bigfoot, the Yowie is a missing link between human and ape. Aboriginal folklore has the Yowie with large red eyes, big canine teeth and large fangs. It emerges nocturnally from the ground to consume whatever it can, including humans. Residing in mountainous and forested regions, very little evidence point towards such an animal ever existing. CD