Big Things : The Big Captain Cook & Big Marlin, Cairns QLD

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The Big Captain Cook

Located on the Cook Highway as you enter Cairns from the north, the Big Captain Cook is a huge 14m high structure that has even been voted as Australia’s No. 1 Big Thing in one online poll.




The conception of the Big Captain Cook started as an advertising gimmick that would be used to promote the Endeavour Inn.  When the plans were presented to the Council, the measurements were mistakenly read as feet and inches instead of metres and it was approved.  Building went underway and needless to say, once it was unveiled in 1972, it was a lot bigger than expected.  The Endeavour Inn was later renamed as the Captain Cook Backpackers Hostel.


In case you were wondering, the statue is not motioning to ‘Heil Hitler’.  The design is based on a 1902 painting of Captain Cook landing at Botany Bay and commanding his crew to not shoot the approaching aborigines.  Some locals believe that the statue is trying to hold back the barrage of tourists that visit Cairns every year.


Over the years, the statue has been repainted many times in a variety of colours, but the most controversial announcement came from the owner in 2010, who wanted to repaint the statue to look like George Washington.  Cairns locals protested and the mayor said it would be “un-Cairns-like”.  To make 2010 an even worse year for the Big Cook, plans to widen the Cook Highway meant that the statue might need to be moved, which put it at risk of crumbling due to ‘concrete cancer’.


The Captain Cook Backpackers Hostel was demolished in the mid-1990s and the surrounding trees are almost all gone too.  These days, the lonely Big Captain Cook is fenced off in his own vacant lot, awaiting his fate.


The Big Marlin

Cairns is home to another big thing, the Big Marlin.  This 10 metre tall structure was erected in 1980 and stands outside Stockland Shopping Centre on Mulgrave Road.  While not much information can be found on why it was built, we believe it represents the Marlin Coast that runs from Cairns to Cooktown.




Cairns is considered to be the world capital of black marlin fishing, as the Great Barrier Reef is the only known breeding ground of the black marlin.  This makes the region an ideal spot for sport-fishing, and the coveted catch is a black marlin that weighs in over 1000 pounds. In fact, there is a club dedicated to fisherman who have achieved the ‘ultimate in big game fishing’ – you can learn more about the World Grander Club here…  



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