The Big Lobster
The Big Lobster Tourist complex was built in 1979 and officially opened by the Hon David Tonkin, Premier of South Australia on December 15 1979.
The original idea came from a similar concept the Backler family discovered in the USA in the mid 1970’s. Their plan for the project in Kingston featured the promotion of South Eastern seafood, wine, cheese and timber. Highway figures of vehicle numbers travelling the Princes Highway encouraged the development, provided that tourists stopped in Kingston. The construction of a Giant Lobster in front of the complex was to be the drawcard to achieve this.
The Backler and Moyse families jointly spearheaded the project. Architect Ian Hannaford undertook the design, Harold and Kite were the builders and Paul Kelly of Adelaide took on the building of the actual Big Lobster.
A decision was made to sell exclusively South East Wines and strongly promote Coonawarra and Padthaway vineyards, the Mount Benson Wine Region was not included, as it had not yet developed at the time. The SA Government was approached and the Big Lobster was successful in developing the first Tourist Licence for South Australia. This allowed wine and beer to be sold in both restaurants and wine directly to the public.
Howard Dicker played a significant part in carrying out the earthworks and also transported all of the sections of the Lobster from Adelaide to Kingston. Traffic came to a stand still along the highway when drivers saw the huge structure moving along the road.
Chefs from the SA School of Food and Catering were brought down to the centre to train local staff in food preparation and presentation. Lobsters were brought in daily and cooked on site (in season).
A great emphasis was placed on promotion, particularly along the East Coast of Australia. This proved very successful and on many occasions up to 7 coaches at a time were stopped at The Big Lobster for lunch, in addition to personal tourists.
The Big Lobster at Kingston in the South East of South Australia is affectionately known as “Larry”. The Big Lobster structure has an internal steel frame, which is coated with layers of styro-foam and fiberglass. It took approximately six months to build.
Height: 17 Metres
Weight: 4 Tonnes (approximately)
Length: 15.2 Metres
Width: 13.7 Metres