BOWEN. North Queensland
Bowen, North Queensland, Australia.
Postcode : 4805, Area Code 0747XX XXXX
Location: Bowen situated on the Coral Coast, is located on the Bruce Highway 212 km south of Townsville and 1165 km north of Brisbane.
Population: Shire approximately 14,000, and the town approximately 8000.
Bowen is the administrative centre of the Bowen Shire which covers 21,085 sqkm reaching from Gumlu in the north , south to Greta Creek and west to the Inland Highlands.
The mining town of Collinsville is 83 km to the south west along a sealed road.
Climate: Bowen is known as the climate capital of Australia. Temperatures remain fairly constant year-round and it is possible to swim during the winter months.
The hottest months are between November and March. The coldest is June.
History: Aboriginal people inhabited the Bowen-Whitsunday region long before the first white people sailed by.
Captain James Cook named Cape Gloucester, now Gloucester Island, on his voyage up the Australian coast in 1770.
The first white man to live in the area was James Morrill who was shipwrecked just north of what was to become the town site. Morrill made his home in Bowen and is buried in the Bowen Cemetery.
Captain Henry Daniel Sinclair discovered Port Denison in 1859 and the town was founded in 1861.
Services: The town offers good public amenities and services including medical, dentists, social welfare, many sporting clubs, including a race club and veterinary clinic.
Bowen has a large retirement home that covers independent living, hostel and nursing accommodation. A large ex-services retirement complex has been converted to take all clients with extra units for special-care clients.
Twelve religious denominations are represented in Bowen.
Education: The Bowen district has 10 schools including high schools in Bowen and Collinsville. Bowen's largest primary school was established in 1865.
The Barrier Reef College of TAFE has campuses at Bowen and Airlie Beach.
Accommodation: There is a wide range of accommodation available in Bowen from beachfront caravan parks, backpacker hostels, motels, and executive units.
Transport Links: Bowen is serviced daily by the major bus companies and Queensland Rail. There are regular flights from most capital cities to the Proserpine Airport, 60 km south of Bowen and also to Hamilton Island Airport in the Whitsundays. Bowen has its own small airport.
District: Bowen is surrounded by a rich hinterland including fertile delta farmlands, grazing country and Collinsville and Newlands coal mines.
Abbot Point just north of the town is the export port for coal from these mines.
Bowen is the base for a large commercial fishing fleet which supplies prawns, reef fish, mackerel, scallops, mud crabs, and other seafood for domestic and export markets. A lucrative live fish industry has developed with regular supplies being transported out of the port for eastern markets.
History: Bowen is North Queensland's oldest town.
It was founded before Townsville or Charters Towers and has a colourful past stretching back to 1770 when Captain Cook sailed by. Cook named Cape Gloucester which turned out to be an islend, later renamed Gloucester Island. The island dominates the view from Bowen's eastern beaches.
Behind the island was a bay later to be described as second only to Sydney's Port Jackson. The bay, Edgecumbe Bay, was eventually discovered by Captain Henry Daniel Sinclair in 1859. Two years later, Sinclair, leading a sea party and George Elphinstone Dalrymple who led a land party, met at the then named Port Denison and founded a town they called Bowen on April 12, 1861.
Bowen has always been proud of its pioneer history.
Much has been preserved and is on display in the historical museum which has been described as one of the best country museums in the state.. Hundreds of items are displayed in one of the few specifically designed museum buildings in the state. The building has storage areas, strong rooms, workshop areas, members rooms, kitchen and toilets. It is cared for by a dedicated group of volunteers.
The history of the town and surrounding area can be traced through the different displays starting with the geology of the district, the early aboriginal inhabitants to Captain Sinclair and the early settlers. There are shipwrecks including relics from the "Gothenburg" which sank off Bowen in 1875 with a loss of more than 100 lives.
The growth of local industry has been recorded.
Beside the museum stands a slab cottage built in the district in 1873. The cottage was bought into town slab by slab, re-erected and restored. Period furniture and fittings were painstakingly collected to furnish the building.
Out at the Bowen Airport is a second museum. This one was built during the Coral Sea celebrations and commemorates the involvement Bowen has with Catalina Flying Boats during World War II. The town was a base for the craft.
A monument stands on the foreshore marking the base site.
Bowen has one of the largest privately owned collections of old machinery which is open to the public by arrangement. Local farmer Bill Ashman has well over 100 pieces of machinery and farm implements collected from around the district and dating as far back as 1860.
Included are cultivation implements, engines, tractors, corn crackers, shellers, grinders, and lawn mowers. The oldest piece is a horse-drawn mower. Seventy-five per cent of the display has been restored to working order. Most of it is under cover with concrete walkways between each section.
Visits can be arranged with Mr Ashman by phoning 07-4785 2210. The local bus company can arrange tours to show you around the historical sites in town.
Festivals: Bowen hosts several community festivals through the year.
Bowen Birthday Bash - Mid April
Bowen Lions Festival - First weekend in November
Bowen High School Festival of Music - September
Orchid Art Craft & Leisure Expo - Mid July
Coral Coast Fishing Classic - August
Collinsville - Moongunya Festival
Gumlu - Capsicum Festival
Fishing: Fishing is one of Bowen's biggest attractions. You can fish from the beach or the rocks.
Boat ramps can be found on either side of town , at the boat harbour, and at Gray's Bay.
There are some reefs just metres off the town's northern beaches and all you need is a strong casting arm.
With a small boat you can reach Rayward's Reef in Queens Bay or Cheybassa Shoal off Poole Island, both good fishing spots just off the coast. Reef fish commonly caught in the areas include coral trout, cod and sweetlip. Blue parrot fish can be caught off the rocks at Horseshoe Bay, Grays and Rose Bays.
The most popular baits era squid, West Australian pilchards, and fresh fish. All corner stores and service stations sell bait. Small crabs are good if you can find them. Grey, Spanish and spotted mackerel and tuna are plentiful most of the year. Spotted mackerel usually school a few kilometres off the mouth of the Don River during winter and trolling around the shoals is often productive.
Whiting can be caught around creek mouths. There are several creeks in the town area including Magazine Creek near the Boat Harbour, Doughty's Creek at the western end of town and Sandhills Creek at Kings Beach. Access to some creeks is limited. All may be entered from the sea at high tide. Nearly all the creeks in the area are land locked by tidal flats at low tide.
You will need a light aluminium dinghy to fish the holes and snags. possibly the best time is the first couple of hours of the run-in tide with the first two hours of the out-going tide best for bait fishing at creek mouths.
Other known fishing spots for reef species are the rocks at the southern end of Kings Beach and the rocky outcrops of Edgecumbe Bay.
Bowen's Tropical Fishing Classic with excellent prizes will be held in September.
Prizes are offered for seniors and juniors in a number of categories. This includes a boat package for the winning entry, whether the entrant wets a line or not.
Industry: Bowen and the small farming community of Gumlu, 61 km north of Bowen, are home to a $128.4 million fruit and vegetable growing industry.
Fruit and vegetables amounted to $119.3 million. Bowen's famous mangoes returned the area $9.1 million.
The area can well claim the title "Salad Bowl of the North".
Markets in the capital cities of all states sell Bowen-produced tomatoes, capsicums, zucchinis, button squash, cucumbers, rockmelons, watermelons, pumpkins, beans, sweet corn, egg plant, and mangoes. Trial crops of peanuts have been grown in the past two years. This year almost 250 ha will be sown to peanuts.
Some of the above products have been exported.
70,000 mango trees in Bowen and another 25,000 in Gumlu produced 7600 tonnes of mangoes valued at $9.1 million.
The industry employs just more than 1500 skilled and unskilled workers during the season.
There are two horticultural processing plants.
Fifty per cent of Queensland's tomato crop is produced in Bowen.
More than 2.5 million hectares of the Bowen Shire is devoted to producing beef cattle, mostly Brahman and Brahman-cross breeds. The area has a number of cattle studs selling through selected sales from Rockhampton to Cairns.
Seafood valued at almost $10 million is processed in Bowen's three processing plants each year. Twenty five trawlers and fishing vessels are permanently based in Bowen harbour. This increases to between 60 to 70 at the peak of the season.
Large quantities of prawns, bugs, fresh and frozen fish and sand crabs leave the town each week. Bowen sends an average of 5000 kg of live fish, mainly coral trout, cod, Barra cod, and Maori wrasse to the Asian markets each week.
A salt works at the entrance to town produces an average of 10,000 tonnes of crude salt annually through solar evaporation. It is used for salting hides and meat products, in the production of cattle licks and for swimming pools.
Abbot Point coal loading facility 20 km north of Bowen, shipped out just under 5,000,000 tonnes of coal in the 1995-1996 financial year. The coal is brought by train from mines at Newlands and Collinsville.
Beaches, Walk, and Lookouts:
Bowen hosts some of the best beaches in Queensland - all within minutes of the Post Office.
By far the best known beach is Horseshoe Bay with its sandy beach surrounded by large granite outcrops.
It is the town's best known beach and most photographed. It has a parking area and a cafe/restaurant. Horseshoe Bay is patrolled by a surf life saving club during the summer months.
Tucked away among the rocks on the left side of Horseshoe Bay is Bowen's "dress optional" beach, for those who like that sort of thing. It has become a favourite for many of the town's European visitors who come to Bowen each year for the "picking season", although Bowen's normally conservative residents steer clear of it.
Close to Horseshoe Bay and facing Gloucester Island is Rose Bay, which is picture perfect. Tucked between these two bays is secluded Murray bay.
Accommodation is available at either of these delightful spots.
A stinger free area is being trailed at Queens Beach, at the Esplanade.
Kings Beach and Queens Beach stretch for several kilometres and are ideal for relaxing walks.
In the fifties, Queens Beach extended another block out to sea, near the intersection of Horseshoe Bay Road and Soldiers Road. On the then beachfront was located the old Ozone Hotel. Unfortunately , time and cyclonic seas eroded the beachfront and claimed the land. Of more recent times, Kings Beach has befallen a similar situation, with a road and buffer dunes disappearing into the sea.
There is a shady harbour frontage with an excellent beach right in town. You can walk from the Post Office.
Swimmers can use the beaches all year round, although it is recommended you are fully aware of the marine stinger danger. Like other north Queensland centres, Bowen has marine stingers. They are most common between October and April.
For minor stings, doctors recommend flooding the sting area with vinegar which deactivates the stinging cells of the jelly fish tentacles. NEVER RUB OR WIPE THE TENTACLES AWAY! Medical attention is recommended for all stings.
Many walking tracks connect the beaches. The trail to Edgecumbe Heights is a great way to see Bowen's beautiful coastal scenery.
Well signed trails start at Horseshoe Bay and Rose Bay and if you are feeling fit you can walk the 2.5 km track that links the two beaches.
If your time is limited, it is well worth the 120 mtr walk to the Horseshoe Bay lookout. Along another track is the site of a World War II anti aircraft battery. the guns have long gone but the mounting points are still there and again the view is stunning.
Another landmark to look out for is Mother Beddock, an imposing rock balanced precariously on a granite outcrop. The rock can be seen for several kilometres, and is marked on navigational charts. Murray Bay is one of the stopover on the track.
It is not uncommon to see wildlife including rock wallabies and scrub turkeys beside the track, particularly early in the morning and at dusk.
There are two lookouts that can be reached by motor vehicle. Both give 360 degree views of the area.
The view from Flagstaff Hill lookout is said to be one of the best sea views in Queensland. From there you can see all of Edgecumbe Bay, the North Head Island lighthouse, Stone Island, and the other bay islands. Gloucester Island looms in the east and you can see Gloucester Passage, gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. There is a sweeping view along Kings Beach to Rose Bay and out across the township. The road to Flagstaff Hill lookout is bitumen sealed, but the climb is not suitable for caravans.
The Mt Nutt lookout at Queens Beach is ideal to take in Bowen's fertile Don River delta and Queens Beach which stretches from the mouth of the river to Cape Edgecumbe. You have views to the coal loading port of Abbot Point from this vantage point. There is a sealed road to a car park just below the reservoir. There is a viewing platform on top of the reservoir.
Fossickers will find Bowen and its outlying areas interesting.
Permission must be obtained from the owners of properties.
In Bowen itself, dendrites on granite are found at the old Kings Beach quarry.
Amethysts can be found on the lefthand side of the road and across the railway line, 3.2 km west of the Bogie River. Fossil shells can be collected near the Scottville reservoir and on the Scottville/Birralee Station road.
Opalized wood and petrified wood can be found on the right side of an alluvial wash, 57.9 km south-west of Collinsville on the Collinsville/Mt Coolon Road. About 48.28km along the Collinsville/Mt Coolon road is Stoney Creek where you can find hornblende.
Agate, perhnite, clear crystal clusters, jasper and calcite can be found in the black soil about 6.44 km from the Collinsville/Strathmore turnoff and near Crush Creek which is 19.31 km from Collinsville on this road.
For the best places to seek the local "gems" contact the Bowen Lapidary Club on 07 4785 1292. A well equipped clubhouse is located at Queens Beach near the Esplanade.
Mullers Lagoon is unique in that it is 23.57 hectares of park land in the middle of town that has been turned into botanical gardens that will equal any in the state, if not the country.
It consists of 11.97 hectares of land and 11.6 hectares of water. Less than 33 percent has been developed but it is well worth visiting and if time permits, walking through. Facilities include: Toilets, playground, fitness equipment, picnic area with a barbecue, shade trees, lawns, displays of dry climate palms, native and exotic shrubs, and perennials.
Many of the plantings are as yet immature.
The whole area can be walked around with the lagoon being the central focal point.
Many birds can be seen especially during the dry season. They are listed on the notice board adjacent to the pathway to the picnic area. Jon Wren, a noted local observer, has listed 140 different birds in the area.
As you turn into Soldiers Road from Herbert Street, on the right, is a collection of Cordylines, Heliconias, Cannas and palms. If you walk on the right hand side of these you come to a rustic bridge framed by Golden Cane palms and many interesting shrubs.
Ahead on the right, there is a rockery displaying Xerophytic plants (plants that have the ability to grow with very little rain, often referred to as Cactus). This is not true as there is only a couple of Cactus growing here. There are: Aloes, Adenums and Euphorbias from Africa, Cactus, Agaves Nolinias and Yacca from America and Cycas and Pachypodums (Latin for elephant's foot) from Madagascar. there are Stapelia from Afghanistan. The flowers smell like putrid meat and are pollinated by blowflies, having evolved without bees. There are Plectanthus (native Coleus) and Cycads from Australia. And there are some succulent Bromels, a close relation of the pineapples from America.
Old People's Home:
Travel and Transport:
Historic sites to visit:
ARTS & CRAFTS:
Bowen Pottery Group
Bowen Aero Club
Bowen Patchwork & Quilters
Bowen Woodworkers Club
To be continued.
Bowen Society of Festival of Murals
email- Laurence Menadue
as at 16/06/2003