Could a Giant Wooden Bong Revive the Town of Woodenbong, Australia?
One local artist thinks so. As for the town’s residents, not so much.
Published on March 26, 2019

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Woodcarver Paul Pearson wants Woodenbong, New South Wales to commission a massive wooden bong to draw business to his small, economically struggling hometown.

“Tourism is our only option for survival [in] this dying village,” he told ABC last week. His project proposal includes the construction of an information center that would house the giant bong, which he wants to stand at over 50 feet tall.

“Hundreds and thousands of people share the same dream as soon as they hear the town’s name,” he told the New York Times. His vision comes with experience, too. In the past, Pearson has turned everyday objects, like dolls and vases, into smoking devices.

An oversized wooden bong for Woodenbong? It sounds like a match made in high heaven, but many of Pearson’s neighbors believe the sculpture would be tacky, irresponsible — or even culturally insensitive.

Gloria Williams, an elder of the Githabul tribe and Woodenbong resident, said the village’s name “has nothing to do with a bong.” The name comes from the Indigenous term Ngandgung-bunj, which translates to “duck on water” or “place of the platypus.”

Others felt the bong sculpture would attract the wrong attention, rather than tourists.

“I haven’t spoken to one person that thinks it’s a good idea,” said the president of Woodenbong’s Progress Association, Chris Reid. The association conducts fundraisers for local projects. “We don’t want to promote drug use,” he added.

While Woodenbong’s conservative residents may choke at the thought of a town landmark fashioned after a water pipe, the project garnered support elsewhere.

“Come on, Woodenbong. Embrace your fate,” urged one writer at VICE.

A columnist at the Sydney Morning Herald fantasized about renaming his city, Brisbane, to “Woodenbong” if the tiny village doesn’t commission the project.

“Tourists would travel from all over the world just to experience our tremendous and fully functional working wooden Godzilla bong, the same way they do to climb the Story Bridge,” wrote John Birmingham. “I need your support on this, people. Please get behind my campaign to rename our city Woodenbong.”

For now, Pearson’s wooden bong project resides entirely in his town’s hands. If his campaign succeeds, not only would the bong bring Woodenbong into weed’s fine-art fold, it would also host one of the largest bongs ever made.

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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