Meanwhile, in Australia

Nicole Johnson, Copy Editor

People everywhere were shocked Feb. 24 when Australia’s famous tourist attraction, The Big Mango, was stolen from its position in Bowen. They were even more shocked to discover that the theft was in fact a publicity stunt staged by popular fast food chain Nandos. Many of those who were not shocked posed one very serious question: why does Australia have a Big Mango?

The Big Mango is one of Australia’s many “Big Things.” It is estimated that at least 150 of these large objects are scattered around the country. The themes of the large so called “tourist traps” range from large fruits and vegetables to other large objects such as sausage kings and sapphire rings.

While some people may not see the importance of having large novelty statues on the side of the road, others find them to be essential to traveling through Australia. The Big Things have become somewhat of a cult phenomenon. Both Australians and visitors of the country use the attractions as an excuse for a road trip where they visit and take pictures with all of the Big Things.

The Big Mango was created in 2002 to commemorate Bowen as the mango capital of Australia. It is modeled after the “Kensington Pride” mango that is grown in the town. Building the Big Mango cost $90,000.

However, sometimes having giant fruit shaped tourist attractions can lead to dramatic events. The theft of The Big Mango caused quite an uproar for the Mango’s supervisors.

“I got a phone call from Christin Short, the tourism manager … I thought she was joking to start off with, but she said ‘no, I’m serious’, so I’ve come out and sure enough the mango has disappeared,” said Bowen Tourism chairman Paul McLaughlin.

Despite their alarmed statements to the media, no official police report was filed for the Big Mango theft, which cause “Mango Gate” watchers to get suspicious. However, McLaughlin still insisted that the mango was in fact stolen.

“At the end of the day it’s a bloody big mango and I’m sure someone will see it and we’ll find it anyway…I think it’ll definitely turn up, no doubt about that. We’re not sure what has happened but I’m sure we’ll get it back.”

Several days after the original theft, the Big Mango was found in a bush behind the Bowen Tourism Center, which is where it is usually located.  It was also announced that despite earlier pleading innocence, McLaughlin was in fact part of the stunt, which was created by Nandos.

Even though the theft of the Big Mango was all a hoax, Bowen managed to entertain the entire world with their big trick. For those who are wondering, the people of Australia have completely forgiven Nandos for stealing their giant fruit statue.

To learn more about Australia’s Big Things, check out this person’s cross-country adventure to all of the attractions at http://maps.travelmate.com.au/bigthings/bigthings.asp. Or, go to Australia!