A road trip of Australia’s fibreglass monuments
The Big Fruit Bowl
If you meander east from Lithgow along the Bells Line of Road, you’ll eventually encounter the Big Fruit Bowl, located in the picturesque community of Bilpin. This is the ideal home for what’s officially “the world’s largest bowl of fruit”, as the area is the centre of prime fruit growing country, far more fertile than the larger, more touristy communities clustered around the Great Western Highway further to the south.
The Big Fruit Bowl has a major disadvantage over other more well known Big Things in that you can’t see it from the road. It’s located in the car park of a popular roadside business called The Fruit Bowl, which offers locally grown fruit at bargain prices. The owners, the Tadrosse family, report that the Big Fruit Bowl was already there when they bought the business back in 1985 from Gerry Harvey (of Harvey Norman fame), so no-one knows exactly when the structure originally appeared or who made it.
The 2.5m high structure is, however, a true phoenix of Australia’s Big Things, having been brutally vandalized and replaced several times in the last 15 years. As well as earning it a local reputation as a resilient survivor, this constant re-birthing has also provided opportunities for artistic additions to the collection of fruit it bears.
At the time of its first vandalism in 1996, the Fruit Bowl’s contents were modest – a banana, an apple and an orange – just enough for a very basic fruit salad, but not much variety. The pieces of fruit were all stolen while the bowl itself was actually ripped out of the ground and left lying on its side.
The Tadrosse family, took the opportunity to zhush the Big Fruit Bowl up a bit and gave it some strawberries and a big bunch of grapes to dangle artistically over the edge. The Bowl itself was also properly secured to the ground with a steel pole. Unfortunately this wasn’t enough to save it from a second incident of vandalism 10 years later, when the culprits actually pulled the Bowl clear out of the ground using a chain attached to a vehicle. Again, all the fruit was stolen. What the culprits were actually doing with these oversized fibreglass pieces of fruit is anyone’s guess.
Determined not to let the vandals win, the Tadrosses again replaced the Bowl, engaging the services of a local signwriter who also had some skill with fibreglass. The Big Fruit Bowl is now raised on a concrete pedestal and a reinforced steel rack so it would actually take a bulldozer or maybe an Ordnance QF 17 Pounder Centauro Hellfire II army tank to move it (although these days, anything is still possible). The Tadrosses have stopped short of fencing off the Bowl because, in true Big Thing tradition, people like to have their photos taken standing next to it. Given that each replacement has cost the family about $25,000 and extensive legal wrangling with insurance companies, the Big Fruit Bowl might as well be accessible for as much photographic joy as possible.