Australian artist Paul Pearson want to give his hometown of Woodenbong, New South Wales, Australia a fitting gift—a giant wooden bong. The project is receiving mixed reactions from the town residents, but is generating buzz in the local media.
Pearson has carved log-sized bongs before, including a 1.5-meter (4.92 feet) wooden bong named Big Merino in Goulburn, Australia. “I’ve always had an interest in bong-making and art, I’ve been doing it all of my life,” Pearson told ABC North Coast. He’s made water pipes out of just about every material imaginable. “I’ve made them out of dolls, plastic lobsters, vases, exhaust pipes, everything.”
Naturally a wooden bong would be the perfect option for a town with that name. “Normally they wouldn’t be made out of wood because of water rot,” Pearson said. “But as soon as I heard Woodenbong, I envisioned a wooden bong.” Pearson began gathering signatures for a petition to gain support for the project, which not only includes the giant bong, but also an information center. He believes it will help to draw tourists to the small town.
The town is tiny, with only 332 residents. Woodenbong is an Aboriginal Githabul word that means “wood ducks on water.” Githabul elder and Woodenbong local Gloria Williams said the town’s name was adapted from the local Githabu word “Ngandgung-bunj.” Williams opposes having the bong, because the town’s name has nothing to do with cannabis.
Pearson isn’t swayed by members of the community that oppose his plan for a giant bong. He calls his own planned project an “unfulfilled prophecy” that must be played out.
Cannabis reform is in the air in New South Wales. Former senator David Leyonhjelm said on March 23 that if he’s elected to the New South Wales upper house, he will legalize cannabis. New South Wales and Western Australia began allowing prescriptions for medical cannabis in 2016, and Victoria legalized medical cannabis the same year.