BIG BANANA EXPORTED TO QUEENSLAND
By GRAEME SINGLETON
KEVIN Rubie is in no doubt that he will be an emotional wreck by the end of today.
The man behind Australia's most iconic 'big'thing is about to bid it farewell.
"The Big Banana has been at the heart of Coffs Harbour for more than 40 years, so to see it head off up the highway will be very difficult indeed," Mr Rubie said yesterday.
"But I can think of no better way of helping out our banana-growing cousins in Far North Queensland than by giving them our Big Banana."
In a move which will shock Coffs Coast residents and visitors, Mr Ruby is uprooting the 13-metre-long, 20-tonne Big Banana and road freighting it to Innisfail.
The operation will be a logistical nightmare, but after a week of liaising with a myriad of State Government departments in NSW and Queensland, Mr Rubie is confident the Big Banana will be on the road by late this morning.
Late yesterday he supervised the loading of the iconic attraction onto the back of a semi-trailer.
"The exercise will cost us a lot of money, and I can imagine many people will be horrified that the city will be losing an attraction which is visited by around one million tourists and travellers a year, but in the long run I think this gesture will put Coffs Harbour on the map as an innovative, caring and generous community," he said.
"The people up north are hurting ? it's the least we can do."
Mr Rubie said the Big Banana will be re-sited on the southern approaches of Innisfail to draw tourists back to the cyclone-ravaged area.
But before it hits the highway, he's inviting Coffs Coast residents to say a final goodbye.
"We are having a special ceremony at 11am today to raise money for Cyclone Larry victims and to give our beloved Big Banana a fitting send-off," Mr Rubie said.
"The Big Banana is kicking off the appeal with a $2000 donation and we'd love to see locals and business houses giving generously, too.
"It would be great to see as many locals as possible here for the occasion."
The Big Banana won't be lost to Coffs Harbour forever, though.
Its relocation is only planned to be temporary.
Mr Rubie said he expects it will be brought back to the city on April 1, next year.