Don’t come the raw prawn with me

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” …

Prawn eats man

Prawn eats man

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. 🙂

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5 Responses to Don’t come the raw prawn with me

  1. Rebecca says:

    My first introduction to Australia was reading Bill Bryson’s book In a Sunburned Country, and I remember him talking there about all the various Big Things. That definitely is a very large prawn!

    • Joy Window says:

      Hi Rebecca. I really like his dry sense of humour. After I’d been taken on a day trip to the Appalachian Mountains when I was visiting friends in Atlanta, I just had to read his “A Walk in the Woods”, about his mostly disastrous walk along the Appalachian Trail. Since then I’ve read many more of his books – recommended.

      • I’m a big fan of Bill Bryson as well and “A Walk in the Woods” was the first book of his that I read. I’ve now read just about all of his books on travel and have recently been reading his book inspired by his house in the UK.

        • Joy Window says:

          Hi Alan. I like the one where he compares the US and UK, as he has lived in both. You and Jane took me to the Appalachians, thank you. I gave the sticker I bought at the camping store near the start of the walk – “Walk faster, I hear banjos” – to my friend Rick, a banjo player.

  2. BrazenArtifice says:

    I understand that while the local Ballina fleet has trouble getting across the river bar, and has dropped in number, trawlers come all the way down from the Gold Coast instead. So I’m not sure the prawns are any better off.

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