The freshly painted orange spikes and jade-green top of the Big Pineapple loomed above the crowd as they fanned themselves in the afternoon heat. Clad in their finest ‘Queensland casual’ – a sea of Hawaiian shirts, belted cargo bottoms, coral lipstick and bedazzled sandals – the former staff and supporters of the Big Pineapple had gathered to celebrate the highs and lows of its 40-year history.
Having recently moved to Woombye, a lush sub-tropical farming community on the Sunshine Coast, I had sought an invitation to the Big Pineapple reunion as both a writer and curious local. Within walking distance of my house on Kiel Mountain, which hugs the eastern edge of the plantation, the Big Pineapple is central to this community’s identity. So much so, in fact, that when asked by friends from Sydney (where I lived until three months ago) where I’m now based, I’ve learned to respond like the other locals with ‘Well, do you know the Big Pineapple?’ After the obvious jokes about me living in the Big Pineapple – like a tropical fruit version of the lady who lives in a shoe – most people respond with a smile.
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