The Big Mango
The Big Mango is situated about 4km south of Bowen in North Queensland and is significant in that it represents the fruit that has made the town know throughout not only Australia but many other parts of the world as well.
The Mango was first introduced to the region in the late 1800s and as with historical stories the actual events are somewhat shrouded in uncertainty.
There are three versions of the story of the fruits introduction all involving Mr GF Sandrock who was the harbour and customs officer of Bowen at the time.
During the late 1800s, Bowen had a well established horse trading business with India, the Mango was used on the ships during their passage to ward of scurvy and some of the fruit was given to Mr Sandrock.
The first version of the story tells that Sandrock gave some of the fruit to a friend by the name of McDonald from whom some seeds were acquired by a Mr Lott who subsequently planted them on his farm Valley Orchard.
The second version says that Sandrock planted the fruit on his own property Woodland and later gave some seeds to Lott.
The third and most likely version of the story is that Sandrock gave the seeds strait to Lott who then went on to produce the fruit commercially.
Regardless of how they were initially introduced, the commercial production of the fruit is the most important part of the story as it was Lott who instigated the shipping of the fruit to Sydney, a practice that was continued by his son Harry Lott.
So popular was the Bowen Mango in Sydney markets, that Harry jealously guarded the fruit seeds to prevent other growers in the region from acquiring them.
It is even said that Harry would insert a wire into a fruit to destroy the viability of the seed when giving them to a friend to try.
The Bowen Mango is still extremely popular today and even has a charity auction at the Sydney markets for the first tray of the season which can fetch more than a thousand dollars for the nominated charity of the purchaser.
Bowen’s mango picking season runs from October to March each year and is a popular income stream for working visitors such as backpackers.
Photo: Michael Palmer