On the drive from Canberra to Sydney is a tourist shop that is something of an Aussie institution; properly called The Big Merino, it is a shop which “celebrates Australia’s fine wool industry” …. and is fronted by a “Big Thing”/tourist trap that stands 15.2 meters, or 97 feet, tall (probably the biggest sheep statue in the world, but that hasn’t been authenticated), that the locals have nicknamed “Rambo.”
The statue stands along side the store, which sells a whole variety of VERY upmarket Australian made items (there are no bargains here, but what they have is VERY nice) mostly made from Marino wool, such as socks, scarves, boots, knitting wool, and coats, etc.
My favorite item, which I forgot to take a photo of and did NOT buy but simply drooled over), was an $1,800+ lambskin/shearling jacket (made from super soft lambskins with the wool still attached).
In fact, the only things I bought for myself were an assortment of draw string bags with really pretty Aboriginal designs on them, made for protecting your sun glasses, out of the same microfiber material of the sort used to clean glasses (so doubly practical) for $9.90 (AUD).
We went here, not to please my obsession with big things, but rather because it’s a regular stop for my travel buddy who LOVES the Big Merino because it’s the only place he knows of that reliably has nice thick Marino wool socks his size… men’s XXL (size 13 Australian, 15 US and 49 European, i.e., he almost never finds socks his size).
If you’ve never purchased a pair of merino wool socks I STRONLY suggest you do. First time I ever saw them was at a sort of outdoors/athletic/hiking type shop located in Evanston, IL, near my University. “$15 for a pair of socks, you have GOT to be kidding me?!” I said… but they assured me these socks would change my life (??) and that I should buy one pair and wear them for 1 week solid without changing them, and then sniff them, and if not impressed I could bring them back. (No seriously, that’s what they said!) Suffice it to say, they won that bet and now pretty much all my daily wear socks are now made of Merino wool. Not only do these suckers wick moisture away from your skin, and take a good two solid weeks of my wearing them on a daily basis to start to smell (I’ve tested them), they also LAST for YEARS!! That first pair took a good five years of regular abusive wearing before they wore out! Not only that but I’ve noticed that since I’ve started wearing them I’ve not had a single blister on my develop on my foot, even if wearing new shoes. Seriously, these are a different category of sock and totally worth the price.
According to my friend it was a shame we hadn’t arrived at the Big Merino after dark because at night the security lights give it the effect of appearing to have glowing eyes… What he didn’t know, and I just found out by googling it (while writing this blog post) is that you can actually climb up statue and look out through those eyes to the road.
The One picture I should have gotten but didn’t, was the back of the sheep… a view which Australians with their sense of irreverent humor seem to love to the point that it has it’s own Facebook page.