25 years and counting: Why I keep going back to the Big Banana

I was young, stuck in a country town, and desperately missing the coast. To save our sanity, a couple of friends and I decided to take a road trip to Coffs Harbour. That was more than 25 years ago, and that trip began a love affair with a town that boasts one of Australia’s iconic ‘big things’ – in this case, a banana.

Back then, the Big Banana was just a glorified roadside cafe attached to an old banana plantation. Naturally, we stopped for some goofy photos – the kind where you didn’t know what they looked like until the film was processed. We clowned around, walked through the banana’s insides (which held a pictorial history of the place), then proceeded on to the beach.

Banana splits and weddings

Fast-forward nearly 10 years and I was married in Coffs Harbour. Being halfway between my hometown of Sydney and my husband’s of Brisbane, it made sense. Our wedding planning wouldn’t have been complete without a stop-off at the yellow biggie. Over coffee and a banana split, we discussed all manner of marital things.

Ever since then, it’s been tradition for us to visit Coffs at least once a year. We’ve watched the Big Banana grow into a fun park, complete with ice-skating rink, laser tag, toboggan ride, and even a water park.

We’ve hiked the property with our kids so they could see how bananas grow on sloping hillsides. They learned that their favourite fruit starts life in a bunch that can weigh up to 50 kilograms before being split into more manageably sized hands.

Banana trees growing on the hills at the Big Banana plantation.

We’ve taken them ice-skating and enjoyed watching them gain their confidence on the thin blades that separated them from the ice. They’ve laughed at me stacking and then getting my bloodied knee patched up by an attendant.

Me, my husband Rob, and my daughters, Chloe and Zara.

Candy and water slides

We’ve seen expert candy-makers turn thick, round logs of colourful sugar into bite-sized treats. And we’ve spent summer days hurtling down giant, wet slides. Which were all great, but the best thing is still the luscious banana split served up in an old-fashioned glass dish, lavished with whipped cream, dolloped in caramel sauce, and sprinkled with crushed nuts.

A delicious Big Banana split.

Our annual pilgrimage to the area we love has built a bank of good memories that we can draw on whenever we need a laugh. We still get goofy photos with the Big Banana itself, only now it’s the kind you take and instantly post to social. My teens might cringe when I force them to smile for the camera, but I know they secretly love it.

Big things might be corny, but I reckon corny is cool. I only have good memories of the Big Banana and I hope that someday I might visit with grandkids (and take photos with who knows what).

Psst! Did you know we’re building Australia’s Next Big Thing? Vote now for what you think it should be and you could WIN $2000 towards your next Wotif holiday!*


*AU residents 18+ only. Ends 11.59am AEDT 9/10/18. Limit one entry/vote per person per valid email address. Full terms and how to enter via link. Permit NSW LTPS/18/27577.

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