For Sale: 55-Foot-Tall Lobster. Owners in a Pinch. Can You Help?

KINGSTON SOUTH EAST, Australia — On a grassy patch of land beside the Princes Highway, Casey Sharpe sighed as he looked up at his most prized and problematic possession: a 55-foot-tall spiny lobster.

His name is Larry. And his future is uncertain.

The crowds Mr. Sharpe imagined when he bought Larry, known as The Big Lobster, 11 years ago never materialized. The business behind Larry’s tail closed two years ago.

Now, a tempting offer has arrived that would cut Mr. Sharpe’s losses and take Larry off his hands. The catch? Larry would be shipped thousands of miles away to Western Australia. And if Larry leaves, neighbors will not be happy.

“My name will be mud,” Mr. Sharpe said. “I might have to move towns.” His deadline for the local council — or someone else — to save the lobster is next Monday.

Larry is one of “Australia’s Big Things,” the very literal name for the oversize objects sprinkled across this vast country. Some are tributes to a local industry (the Big Banana). Others are tributes to national passions (the Big Beer Can). And for those driving Australia’s long freeways, the landmarks provide a place to stretch the legs, with the added bonus of a photo opportunity.

The 300,000 Australian dollars (about $220,000) he’s asking — for the restaurant, the lobster and the land — won’t cover his family’s debt, he said.

Which is why an offer to send Larry west — selling just the lobster for about a third of the whole site’s price — is so attractive. It’s not a light decision. After all, relocation might impact Larry’s legacy. According to Dr. Clarke, moving items from their original locations severely diminishes their chances at a heritage listing.

Mr. Sharpe is hoping the government can help by Monday’s deadline. A few years ago, the local council offered to move Larry to somewhere more likely to attract tourists to the town’s center, but the deal fell through.

With streets to revamp, a coastline to restore and roads to repair, the lobster is not a top concern. “The community would be frowning upon council if it even put Larry as a priority anywhere at the moment,” said Andrew MacDonald, the council’s chief executive.

Perhaps, then, it’s up to someone with a vision for how to turn the business around. In the summer, Kingston’s population more than doubles. The parking lot beside Larry bustles with admirers. Even in the winter, this Big Thing pulls in fans.

Joris Meuwese and Rachael McCabe, two European travelers in their twenties, giggled as they snapped photos during a recent afternoon visit.

The Barood family, on a vacation from New Zealand, were drowsy from driving before they awoke to the sight of the crustacean.

And Matthew Ryder, an Adelaide Hills native, brought his 9-year-old daughter, Kate, to see the same lobster he had seen himself as a child. She looked wide-eyed as it towered over her, a broke but beautiful lobster that had weathered storms and bankrupted people and fractured friendships.

“I think it’s just as great as I imagined it,” she said.

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