Ben heads back to his childhood when he hits the Big Banana, but this time it's for a bit of indoor skiing!
Coffs Harbour has the distinction of being home to Australia's first "big". Its much photographed giant banana was created in 1964 and cannot be missed by those travelling along the Pacific Highway.
The Big Banana was the brainchild of John Landi who arrived from the United States to study insects which were attacking banana plantations. He had seen the very large Dole pineapple in Hawaii, and thought a large banana would boost sales of the fruit.
Kevin Rubie, Big Banana's manager, sees the place as one big leisure spot, and half a million visitors a year seem to agree with him. A few years ago he decided to install a skating rink which proved to be popular with locals and those wanting a break from a long car ride.
The success of the skating rink encouraged Kevin to build a snow ski slope something not usually associated with the warm climate of Coffs Harbour! It took two-and-a-half years to build and the project was not an easy one. Kevin wanted, and achieved, a slope which offered fun for all grades of skier. It is an intermediate slope averaging an angle of one-in-six with a steep one-in-five section before levelling out towards the bottom. The slope is 120 metres long, eight metres wide at the top and 15 metres at the bottom.
The snow-making procedure is rather like a normal dump of snow. It is made in a large refrigerated room, transferred overnight down an overhead pipe and dumps along the ski slope. It is machine-groomed each morning. Skiers, snowboarders and people riding tubes get to the top with the help of a towrope.
Scott Courtland is the resident instructor and he loves the challenge of teaching children the finer points of skiing. Most have never seen snow before, so it's fun all round.
The Big Banana complex has a food outlet and the Hilltop Centre offers great views of McAuley's Headland, Diggers Beach, Charlesworth Bay, Dorrigo Mountains, Smokey Cape, Solitary Islands Marine Park and farming lands.
About halfway between Sydney and Brisbane.
The Big Banana ski slope lessons cost $40 for adults and $40 for children for half an hour. Equipment is included. Half an hour of tubing costs $15 for adults and $10 for children.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
The Big Banana
PO Box 1236, Coffs Harbour 2450
Ph: (02) 6654 4355 Fax: (02) 6652 firstname.lastname@example.org