Like something out of a 1950s B-movie, a huge red crustacean looms over the entrance to the town of Kingston SE in southern Australia. But there is nothing to fear (unless of course you have a phobia about large, leggy sea creatures), as this huge lobster is merely a concrete and fibreglass construction. Still, standing 17 metres tall from tail to the tip of its feelers, the Big Lobster apparently weighs in at four tonnes - and it is unfortunate it's not real (although you'd need a truckload of Mornay sauce to appreciate it fully).
The Big Lobster, or 'Larry' as he's affectionately called by locals1, was built in 1979 by the owners of the Big Lobster restaurant, Kath and Eric Peltz. Originally designed to be much smaller as a rooftop ornament, somewhere along the line the instructions got mixed up and the lobster was built in metres instead of feet. Seeing the wonderful potential for tourism though, a gift shop was soon opened with all your big lobster needs, including postcards and snowdomes, and you'd be a fool not to try some cooked lobster while you're there - it's, well, words cannot say how divine this delicacy is! The massive edifice has stood the test of time too:
We have to get a cherry-picker every few years to paint it a mixture of orange, black and white, but besides that the only real work has been when it lost its big front feelers in a storm and we had to repair them.
- Big Lobster curator, Kath Peltz
Also available, from the attached bottle shop, are local wines from the famous Coonawarra and Penola regions, either to have at a later date, or to wash down some food from Macs Takeaway & Pizza - which does the best fish and chips this side of the equator. No, really - if you don't fancy lobster, make a point of getting some take-away from there. You won't regret it.
Kingston SE is about 45 kilometres southeast of the Coorong National Park and is a great stopover on the Princes Highway to get a bite to eat and stretch your legs before moving on into the National Park, or travelling further to Adelaide. The only thing is, regardless of the time of year, it's best to pack a warm jumper or jacket, as Kingston is right on the coast and the bracing Antarctic winds can blow in at any time. Because of the winds though, there can often be some good surfing to be had either at Kingston or a bit further down the coast back towards Victoria.
During the summer months, the nearness of the sea means Kingston is popular for swimming too, and at other times of year whale-watching. If you're really making a trek of it, and coming along the south coast from Melbourne to take in the Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles, Kingston is roughly halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide and offers some decent overnight accommodation or, if you're up to it, you can carry on and pitch a tent in the Coorong!
The town was named after George Strickland Kingston, an Australian politician and architect, with the SE bit tacked on to differentiate it from another town called Kingston2 in South Australia. It has strong ties with the fishing industry, being a popular destination for both commercial and recreational fishing, and offers the best seafood in the region. But of course, the major attraction continues to be 'Larry', and his tasty little friends.