World’s Weirdest Roadside Attractions

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Woinic, Ardennes, France
If the world's largest model of a wild boar were in Australia, undoubtedly the home of some of the most flagrantly odd enormous roadside objects, he'd probably be made out of fibreglass and affectionately known as the Big Pig. But this is France, so he's a work of art and has a proper name, thank you. Woinic (10 metres tall, 14 metres long and five metres wide) took the artist Eric Sleziak 11 years to createfrom small metal pieces and on 8 August 2008 took up residence by the A34, south of Charleville-Mézières, welcoming visitors to the Ardennes and lending his name to a new local beer and service station.

Big lobster, Kingston South-East, South Australia

Kingstone South-East, in South Australia, is not the place to head if you have any kind of shellfish phobia. At the edge of this coastal town sits an enormous, 17-metre-tall lobster, known locally as Larry. According to anecdote, he was never meant to be this big: the plans were measured in feet, but the artist apparently misread them and worked in metres. Result: one Australian icon, which featured on an Australia Post 50c stamp in 2007 and made an appearance in Bill Bryson's Aussie travelogue, Down Under.

House of Shrek, Tarras, New Zealand

A national icon in New Zealand, Shrek, a runaway sheep, shot to fame in 2004 when, having evaded shearers for six years, he was discovered hiding out in an Otago cave, with a fleece so huge he could barely see. Now The House of Shrek, in the tiny township of Tarras, documents his life and times, from the early hermit years (you can see a replica of the cave) to his later good works raising money via personal appearances and book sales for a children's health charity. The former fugitive sheep sadly died, aged 15, in June of this year.

The Big Galah, Kimba, South Australia

Big Things are, well, a big thing in Australia, with kitsch oversized replicas of fruit, vegetables and animals scattered liberally across the country. Case in point: the Big Galah at Kimba in South Australia, an eight-metre tall fibreglass replica of the pink and grey cockatoos whose name is now Aussie slang for someone who's a few prawns short of a barbie. Behind it sits the Half Way Across Australia Tourist Gift Shop, selling local gemstones, food and, it's probably safe to say, a selection of small galah souvenirs.

The Dream, Lancashire

There's not too much to distract you on the journey along the M62 between Manchester and Liverpool - until you spot the ghostly white face looming above the treeline to the north. Welcome to The Dream, Jaume Plensa's 20-metre-high statue of a young girl's head, elongated and slightly surreal, like something out of a Dali painting. With eyes closed, serenely oblivious to the cars whizzing by below, she sits on the site of a former colliery with stunning views across to the Pennines in the east and Snowdonia to the west.

The Marfa Prada Store, Texas

Designer stores usually cluster together in the swanky shopping streets of the world's wealthier cities. But the Marfa Prada Store sits in splendid isolation in the middle of Texas nowhere, just off route 60. Bad news for would-be buyers who take a shine to anything in the window: it's not actually a retail outlet but a bizarre art installation from Berlin-based artists Elmgreen and Dragset, known for their subversive take on the familiar. Miuccia Prada herself not only gave her blessing to the project but also hand-picked the entire stock of 20 shoes (all left feet) and half a dozen handbags.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

True to its 'bigger and better' reputation, Texas seems to have made a speciality of strange roadside attractions. Probably most famous of the bunch, feted in film and song, is Cadillac Ranch on Route 66, just outside Amarillo. The work of San Francisco art collective Ant Farm, it consists of 10 pre-1964 Cadillacs, arranged in date order and half-buried, nose-down, allegedly at the same angle as the Great Pyramid at Giza. Constantly being covered in new graffiti, the cars are repainted every so often to give new urban artists the chance to start again with a blank canvas.

World's largest dinosaur, Drumheller, Alberta

Kate and William missed a trick on their post-nuptial royal tour of Canada. Never mind tree-planting and dragon boat-racing - if they'd made it to Drumheller, in the Alberta Badlands, they could have climbed to the top of The World's Largest Dinosaur. The giant fibreglass T Rex (female, apparently), four-and-a-half times life-size, has a viewing platform in its mouth, where visitors can pose for photos with giant pointy teeth framing far-reaching views of the Drumheller valley.

Wang Saen Suk Hell Garden, Thailand

Roughly halfway between Bangkok and Pattaya, and in complete contrast to the tranquillity of a traditional Thai Buddhist monastery, Wang Saen Suk is the ultimate in ghastly theme parks (the 'Welcome to Hell' sign at the entrance is a dead giveaway). Designed to warn of the consequences of building up too much bad karma, it's a grotesquely sculpted ABC of the gruesome tortures in store for wrongdoers who don't mend their ways pretty sharpish. Boiled in oil? Sawn in two? Disembowelled by birds? That's not the half of it. Be warned...

Headington Shark, Oxford

Admit it, it's not every day you see an eight-metre headless shark sticking out of a roof. Not unless you live near New High Street in Headington, that is, where the house at number 2 is home to the shark officially known as Untitled 1986. A local radio presenter, Bill Heine, commissioned the sculptor John Buckley to create the fibreglass behemoth, which was craned into position on the 41st anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing. Despite the British weather and numerous bureaucratic objections, it has survived relatively unscathed since 1986.

Beer Can House, Houston, Texas

What began as an amiable hobby to pass the time now stands as a monument to one man's thirst, causing passing motorists to do a double-take as they drive along Malone Street in Houston. An estimated 50,000 flattened beer cans adorn the former home of John Milkovisch - fence, walls, roof, garden, everything is covered in metal, with garlands of ring pulls hanging from the gables. Now considered a work of folk art, the project proved practical as well as decorative: all that metal cladding meant the family fuel bills came right down.

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World’s Weirdest Roadside Attractions

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