Big Potato – Robertson, Australia - Gastro Obscura

Big Potato

Robertson, Australia

Concrete spud looks like the North American Sebago. 


Australia is home to more than just a couple of big things. The big country, it has been said, has a love of similarly oversized objects. The Big Potato is only one of a loosely related set of about 150 sculptures and large structures sprinkled across the country. Most of these, the Big Potato included, serve as some of the country’s top tourist traps and can be found along major roads and highways or between prominent travel destinations.

There’s not a whole lot of excitement in the sleepy town of Robertson, New South Wales, so the farmers, bored and restless one day, got together and decided that they should build a giant concrete potato. The idea was to showcase the main crop of the area and to bring in some tourist dollars by attracting visitors to the potato, which is modeled, more specifically, off of the North American Sebago.

The giant spud, which was built in 1977, measures about 10 meters long and four meters wide. Because it was designed and built with a hollow interior, visitors can actually go inside of the potato. In there, it has been spray painted to look like a mashed potato. There’s nothing else in there, though, even if the guys who dreamed up this big spud hoped it would eventually house a potato information center so that people from outside of Robertson could learn more about the Sebago.

A small town in the Southern Highlands, Robertson has a population of just 1,206. It’s known for the fertile soil and high annual rainfall that makes growing spuds in this area ideal. It wasn’t always this way, though; Robertson was once known for the red cedar growing along the escarpment and for its cheese industry, the remnants of which still exist in the form of rundown cheese factories, some of which have been converted into cafes for the tourist trade. Aside from the Big Potato, other attractions in Robertson include the Robertson Pub, a popular drinking hole, and the Robertson Pie Shop to the east of town. The pie shop is well known as a local meeting place for road trippers, particularly those on motorcycles as it is at the top of the infamous Macquarie Pass, full of challenging hairpin bends, two roadside waterfalls, and remnants of the subtropical rainforest that attracted red cedar cutters early in the European settlement of the area.  The historic Hotel Robertson, built-in 1924 as a luxury country club, and having a rather checkered history since can be seen in the background of the 1995 movie Babe which was filmed in the area.Robertson is located in Dharawal (Tharawal] country.

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July 26, 2011

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