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Holy cow! Former tourist icon gets new lease of life on Darling Downs


When the Highfields Pioneer Village and Museum, north of Toowoomba, heard there was a chance to rehome a giant concrete cow — made famous in the 1980s as a Sunshine Coast tourist attraction — it grabbed the bull by the horns.

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Several years, and a two-hour truck ride inland later, the big cow reached its “forever paddock” this week.

“It’s really big,” said museum secretary Jody Dodds.

“Highfields was settled by a lot of dairy farmers on small acreages.

“This area is very rich agriculturally, and the area around Highfields itself was particularly a dairying area, so it has a good reason to be here.”

Back to the future

The pioneer village hopes the big cow will help rekindle Australia’s love affair with big things.

“We want to revive that old idea of visiting big things while having a rest stop,” Dodds said.

The Big Cow at Kulangoor in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast in 2016.
The Big Cow at Kulangoor, in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast, shown here in 2016, had fallen into disrepair. (Photo: ABC Sunshine Coast: Harriet Tatham)

“There used to be a big culture of visiting big things around the country, and now those people are bringing their children to see the big things.”

The Big Cow was created on the Sunshine Coast in the 1970s, and spent decades peering over the old Bruce Highway.

Situated on a working dairy farm for tourists, the big cow was sculpted by Hugh Anderson, the man behind the big bulls in Rockhampton.

The Highfields museum volunteers have kept the Anderson family up to date on the cow’s wellbeing.

“The family are very excited,” Dodds said.

“They had heard she was in disrepair, and heard rumours she may be demolished, so they are very excited to see her preserved for future generations.”

A fixer-upper

Time has not been kind to the old cow.

“She had a bit of render fall off, probably from all that salt air on the coast, and some weather has gotten in from those holes,” Dodds said.

The museum volunteers hope to raise money to restore the cow to its former glory.

“She hasn’t had much TLC for a while, but we have applied for several grants to get her finished in time for her grand opening during the Carnival of Flowers in September,” Dodds said.

“We think it will cost around $29,000 to have her back in perfect condition.”

The museum hopes people will rush to recreate those 1980s family photo with the big cow once it has been restored.

“There’s a cult following for these things,” Dodds said.

The Pioneer village is also keen to see family photos with the cow from years gone by.

“Many people have already contacted us sharing their stories and photos of them with the big cow decades ago,” Ms Dodds said.

“I’ve already been sent a postcard from England from a chap who visited in the late 1970s.

“We will fill the cow with old photos as the room inside the cow will now be dedicated to the history of the cow itself.”

-ABC/Peter Gunders

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