…History of The Big Pineapple…
In 1970 the world was a very different place to what we are experiencing now. In Australia baby boomers were given the chance to vote, wear miniskirts and revel in the rock and roll era. The opinion of the public suddenly mattered and the tourism industry was ready to rumble. 1970 was also the year Bill and Lyn Taylor were fascinated by the diversity and quality of the local produce, bought an old pineapple farm and announced their plans to build the Sunshine Plantation.
Having no experience working from an office to a farm, Lyn declared ignorance was bliss. For a decade Sunshine Plantation consumed their life. Their vision was for a working plantation to grow a variety of tropical fruits, nuts and spices. A 16 metre high pineapple with an observation deck, audio visuals and diagrams illustrate the techniques used in tropical production. A guided tour on our sugar cane train offers a close encounter of the growing process….Toot toot. We now offer the animal farm for a family day trip to the pineapple which was introduced many years after the opening of “Sunshine Plantation”.
News about the idea of a “giant pineapple” spread quickly; however those not involved, the unknown seemed to be nothing other than sheer craziness. The roadside attraction certainly gained the attention of passing traffic. How could you miss a giant pineapple?
In order to find the right person to build the track for the sugar cane train the most obvious place was to go to the sugar mill. There were no plans drawn for the railway, they set off from where Bill wanted the station with a bundle of pegs and an eye level and designed it on the ground as they went. Due to budget and time there was always a bit of doubt. In technical terms they created the steepest curve grade combination on a 2 foot gauge railway. There were times when the train came to a halt on the steep curve and the train driver would have to get off the train, throw sand on the track for traction and use body weight against the loco to get the wheels back on track; a bit of entertainment to add to the experience and memories.
The official opening of Sunshine Plantation according to those who had been part of it was “absolutely spectacular”. The numbers the icon attracted was overwhelming for the 10 staff who worked tirelessly to cater for the unanticipated barrage of visitors who entered the doors of the Sunshine Plantation on Sunday, 15th August 1971.
For more than 25 years happy faces, sunshine, excited children, baby animals, train rides, cream and ice-cream delighted people from all over the world. Millions of people learnt all about Queensland’s agriculture as they climbed the Big Pineapple staircase. Unfortunately, the last decade of business was one of decline with the tourist icon being placed into receivership. Ultimately in October 2010 The Big Pineapple was closed to the public pending new ownership.
A new era has arisen on the Big Pineapple Premises thanks to the innovative investors who purchased the icon and its 165 hectares in September 2011. The repairs were started almost immediately to bring some life back into the venue and tidy the mess left behind. The decision was made to revitalise the Big Pineapple and use the venue to host a multitude of possibilities. With the appointment of a new General Manager and staff the process begun, the Big Pineapple structure was overhauled and repaired, Parfaits returned, the animal farm resumed, the train was reinstated, pineapples were planted, the function centre fabulously re-opened and the grounds started to take shape.
The location is currently home to the Biggest all weather markets showcasing local producers, growers, organics, food, art, fashion, and more which creates a day out for everyone’s shopping and an experience for the family. The Big Pineapple is also becoming a recognised business hub which includes Zehnder Bakery, Hearty Foods, and the 135+ businesses that operate through the markets. The location is ever evolving and with the Big Pineapple Music Festival the future is looking very positive for the Big Pineapple. “Everyone’s Icon”