Ballina is a fishing village, as well as retirement and tourist destination. We used to see a large fleet of prawn trawlers going over the bar every day, but the passage out to the ocean along the river has silted up so much and the prawn population has dropped, so that fleet has lost most of its boats. It’s not economical any more – good news for the prawn population, which may now recover a bit. Trawling used to produce a devastating amount of bycatch, but new net sizes have helped in that regard.
Now Ballina’s Big Prawn has been restored, courtesy of Bunnings hardware chain. The prawn had looked pale and graffitied in recent years, but has now been moved to the new Bunnings site and repainted. You’ll notice that it’s not prawn-coloured, though – or really, it’s the colour of a cooked prawn.
And in a twist to the old phrase “man bites dog” …
The prawn is one of several Big Things in Australia – a list is here, and I see there a photo of the prawn as it used to be. The Big Lobster is also cooked. The Big Things are eye-rollingly kitsch, but we love them anyway.
My Dad used to take me catching blue swimmer crabs in the mudflats of St Vincent’s Gulf near Adelaide when I was a kid. We more than once came across cityfolk who asked us where to get the crabs. The blueys were everywhere, so we were a bit puzzled until we found out they were seeing lots of blue ones but rejecting them because they weren’t red. They are only red when cooked. It was a bit mean of Dad to string them along, though.
The Australian expression “Don’t come the raw prawn with me” means, essentially, “don’t try to deceive me”. So is the big cooked prawn a subtle advertising message from Bunnings proclaiming their honest business practices? They ain’t coming the raw prawn? Methinks that’s a stretch too far but I like it anyway. 🙂