Australia's Big Mango 'heist' revealed as a hoax by Nando's

The chicken restaurant chain admitted that they were behind the 'theft' of the tourist attraction

Australia’s Big Mango mystery has been solved – after chicken restaurant chain Nando’s claimed responsibility for the theft of the giant replica from the Queensland town of Bowen.

The 10 metre high, 10 tonne mango made international headlines when it was stolen from the Bowen tourist information centre during the early hours of Monday morning.

CCTV footage appeared to have captured the robbery, in which a crane was used to rip the three-storey giant fruit from the concrete platform on which it had stood since 2002.   

But there were suspicions that the theft was part of an elaborate marketing stunt after it was revealed that police were not investigating the incident.

And on Tuesday Nando's admitted to "borrowing" the Big Mango.

In a statement on its website, it said: "The disappearance of Bowen's Big Mango has generated quite a lot of attention over the last day or so...  and we confess... Nando's was behind moving the three storey high, 10 tonne tourist attraction.

"Nando's would like to thank the people of Bowen for being good sports about us 'borrowing' their beautiful mango. We promise we're taking good care of it and it will be returned to its rightful position soon(ish).

"All will be revealed as to why we did it very soon... stay tuned."

A caller to ABC radio in Queensland on Tuesday said that he had found the mango hidden in a paddock behind the information centre.

"What they've done is put it on a truck and taken it up there and laid it on its side in the bush, and at the end that's facing towards Bowen they've covered it up with tree branches and shade cloths so nobody can see it," he said.

"It's a pretty hard thing to hide."

The $90,000, fibreglass structure was erected as a celebration of Bowen's claim to be the mango producing capital of Australia and is one of 150 Big Things built as tourist attractions across the country.

Read more: Australia's 10-tonne mango 'seized in overnight heist'