40,000 piece puzzle takes up Shepparton CBD sidewalk

By Daneka Hill

MOST people know their puzzle limits; 500-piece puzzles are a challenge, while only the brave attempt 1000 pieces.

But on Wednesday a Shepparton woman assembled a staggering 40,000-piece puzzle on the CBD sidewalk.

Completed in 10 separate sections over two years, the puzzle — measuring 7 m by 2 m — had never been fully unveiled before because it can’t fit inside puzzle master Sarah Pritchett’s house.

“I bought it two years ago, it would have been finished sooner but I went to university,” the 20-year-old said.

Before enrolling in a Bachelor of Forensic Science at Deakin University and moving to Geelong, Ms Pritchett had finished 65 per cent of the puzzle.

It’s taken one-and-a-half years and a pandemic forcing all university students off-campus for the last 35 per cent of the puzzle to finally be nutted out.

One of the 10 sections that make up the 40,000-piece puzzle.

Completing puzzles since she was six months old, Ms Pritchett admitted the 40,000-piece Disney-themed monster was the largest puzzle she’d ever attempted.

“I like studying them,” Ms Pritchett said.

“I do puzzles on my bed on top of wooden boards we get from Bunnings, then I’ll just lift the boards up and slide them under my bed when I’m done.”

Alongside the horde of finished and in-progress puzzles under Ms Pritchett's bed, the family garage has a stack of puzzles which “reach the roof” according to her mother.

Kristen Pritchett said her daughter had been puzzling since she was six months old and completed wooden jigsaws with her grandmother.

“It’s gotten to the point where 1000-piece puzzles are too easy. She watches TV while she does them on her bed,” Mrs Pritchett said.

“She won’t do the same puzzle twice. Once it’s together it stays together. I don’t know what I am going to do with this one.”

Sarah Pritchett.

Valued at more than $1000, the puzzle was purchased from the exact store it was finally assembled in front of — gift store Delightful Rainglow in Shepparton's Star Bowl Arcade.

Ms Pritchett said she was a big Disney fan and most of her puzzles featured Disney characters.

“My favourite section of this puzzle was the Bambi part,” she said.

“The easiest was the Snow White section because of all the colours and the hardest was the Fantasia one.”

After its one big public showing the 40,000-piece puzzle will be deconstructed back into its 10 reasonably sized parts, carted in the tray of a ute home, and slid back under Ms Pritchett’s bed.

The entire Pritchett family has been racking their brains for uses for the 40,000-piece puzzle, with suggestions ranging from framing it to giving it to a doctor’s waiting room.

For her 21st birthday Ms Pritchett’s extended family will be pooling their money to purchase another 40,000-piece puzzle.