From the Experts

Rural Rumenations

By Katie MacAuley

Columnist Katie MacAulay lives in South Gippsland, and has been married to a dairy farmer long enough to appreciate the smell of good silage. She loves chooks, enjoys stacking hay bales with the tractor and wonders why the lawn grows twice as quickly as the grass in the paddocks.

The Big Opportunity

Recently we took the kids on a Big Roadtrip. Everywhere we went, there were Big Tourist Attractions: The Big Merino, The Big Banana, even The Big Golden Guitar.

People posed in front of these objects and took photos. Then they headed for the surrounding museums, cafes and gift shops.

We saw other big things but these weren’t considered tourist attractions. I started to wonder — what is the difference between big and Big? What was it about large fake objects that made people stop and spend money?

I still don’t have an answer.

Then I realised maybe one doesn’t need an answer to embrace the concept.

There has been talk in the dairy industry of value-adding. Let’s face it; milk is considered a common, cheap product. Maybe it’s time to Big It Up? Gippsland is known for dairying and is a beautiful place to visit. Surely we too could draw in the tourist dollar with A Big Object made from cement or fibreglass?

What to choose?

The most obvious choice was The Big Cow, until I remembered the abundance of Dairy Australia’s life-sized Picasso Cows and the two-sided cow at Koonwarra Sale Yards. Maybe I could round them all up and create The Big Herd? Although, I suspect that filling a paddock with The Big Herd would be less profitable than a paddock full of live cows.

The Big Udder was quickly ruled out as Aussie slang would soon see it re-christened The Big Boobs. Who knows what sort of people its gift shop would attract?

I thought about the product we produce. How could I make a large quantity of white liquid stay in place? A Big Milk Carton would look suspiciously like a Big Juice Carton if the label faded.

The Big Cheese? There are enough of those in society already.

The Big Yoghurt? My artistic skills lack culture — people would probably misinterpret my design as a badly made silo or tank.

The Big Icecream? I volunteer for sampling duty in the gift shop! But then I remembered icecream vans — why would visitors travel all this way when Reasonably Large Icecreams on top of vans come to them?

I was temporarily stumped. Still enthusiastic about my Big Idea but needing someone else’s input, I hunted down hubby. He was sitting in our office, paying bills. I explained we needed a Big Object that was ubiquitous to our local industry yet easy to create. Hubby was silent for a moment, then he turned his back on the internet banking screen and looked at me thoughtfully.

“How about The Big Overdraft?”