Big Penguin statue
Public Art: Big Penguin statue
Designed By : © David Lawrie
Description: An enormous 3.5m high ferrocement
Date unveiled: 1975
Location: The Big Penguin can be found on the
foreshore park, Main Street, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia.
Background to the Big Penguin: The penquin statue was
the brainchild of George Daniels, who was the then President of the Penguin Trader's Association. He thought
it would be great for the council to build a monument in honour of the town's centenary, which was on the 25th of
The council were in agreeance and contracted the Devonport engineering firm of R.M. Foster to
create the sculpture using a picture from Mr Daniel's daughter's children's book. All was seemingly going fine
until two weeks before the centenary negotiations with the firm fell through. Enter David Lawrie, the fatcory
manager for Goliath Cement Co. Hearing of the town's dilemma he created the ferrocement penguin and had it lifted
into place in in 3 days. OK, it hadn't been painted yet, but he completed in three days.
Toxic Penguin Controversy: In November 2008, fear
swept through the town of Penguin when rumors that their Big Penguin could be toxic and may have made thousands of
people sick.Seems a cement worker raised the alarm after he had concerns that the sculpture was leaking
asbestos particles from the cement. The townsfolk were horrified that their iconic Penguin may have to be
removed. The local Mayor Mike Downie responded by saying “I would think we would be lynched from the nearest
tree if council decided, that if it was a danger to the public, not to replace it.” Fortunately the Penguin was
tested and given a clean bill of health.
References: Clark, David. Big Things : Australia's
amazing roadside attractions, Penguin, 2004.