The quintessential graceful Queensland port town, Bowen is located
on the north-east coast of Australia, at exactly twenty degrees south
of the equator. In fact, the twentieth parallel crosses the main
street. Bowen is a major Queensland centre for the growing of mangoes.
Where is it?: Bowen is halfway between Townsville and Mackay, and 1,130 kilometres by road from Brisbane.
Things to see and do:
Bowen town muralA feature of the town are the many murals painted on
the side walls of buildings in the town centre. These murals depict the
history of Bowen and the surrounding region.
Being a peninsula, with ocean on three sides, Bowen has eight beaches
surrounding the town, namely Kings Beach, Queens Beach, Horseshoe Bay,
Murrays Bay, Greys Bay, Rose Bay, and the Front Beach. There is also
the clothing-optional Coral Bay. Kings Beach offers views of nearby
Bowen is a centre for aquatic recreational activities, including
sailing, fishing and cruising Edgecumbe Bay, Middle Island, Cape
Glouceseter and Gloucester Island.
Lookouts: Mt Nutt Lookout, Mt Nutt Road, has a viewing tower at the top
of a reservoir providing visitors with views over the coastline,
Bowen's farming areas and the coal loading port at Abbott Point.
Flagstaff Hill lookout, Margaret Reynolds Drive, has picnic tables,
bins, a cafe and some panoramic views over Bowen, Edgecumbe Bay and the
Coral Sea. Rotary Lookout, Horseshoe Bay Road, overlook the beach at
• Easter: Easter Sunday Family Funday
• July: Bowen Cultural Festival
• October: Bowen Cultural and seafood Festival
Empty beaches, rainforest and reefs are just some of the attractions
of the scenic Gloucester Islands to the east of Bowen. Camp sites close
to the coast are popular with locals, while smaller more remote islands
offer a secluded experience. Gloucester Island National Park is home to
the largest colony of endangered Proserpine rock wallabies.
Flanked by sandy beaches, Cape Upstart (45km north west) is an
imposing granite headland covered in a range of vegetation types from
vine thicket to heath. Significant areas of beach scrub and coastal
dunes are also protected in Cape Upstart National Park.
A town of over 7,500, Bowen sits on a square peninsula, with ocean
to the north, east, and south. On the western side, where the peninsula
connects with the mainland, the Don River's alluvial plain provides
fertile soil that supports a prosperous farming industry. Bowen enjoys
a diversified and prosperous economy based on agriculture, fishing,
tourism, and mining.
Just north of Bowen is the Abbot Point coal loading port. The mining of
Coal from the Bowen Basin is a growing operation. Abbott Point is
Australia's most northerly coal shipping port, with its modern
deepwater port complex and extensive facilities both onshore and
offshore. It plays a vital role in the States $8 billion coal export
industry. Forecasts suggest that over the next 5 to 10 years the volume
of coal exported from the Abbot Point Coal terminal will triple to
approximately 50 million tonnes.
Bowen featured prominently in the 2008 feature film, Australia,
directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
In the film, Bowen represented Darwin during the war years.
Bowen is in the dry tropics. This means it has all the warm sunny
weather of a tropical climate, but it is much dryer than one would
expect for tropical beaches overlooking the Great Barrier Reef. At
Bowen's latitude, the Trade Winds provide a pleasant breeze. The
warmest month is January, with an average maximum temperature of 31
degrees Celsius. The coolest month is July, with an average maximum
temperature of 25 degrees Celsius and an average overnight minimum of
14 degrees Celsius.
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Lieut. James Cook named Cape Gloucester on his voyage of exploration
up the Australian coast in 1770. This "cape" turned out to be an
island, and Gloucester Island dominates the view from Bowen's eastern
beaches. Behind the island is a bay that forms an excellent port, which
the town came to be built around. This bay was eventually discovered in
1859 by Captain Henry Daniel Sinclair, in response to a reward offered
by the colony of New South Wales for finding a port north of
Rockhampton. Sinclair named Port Denison after the colonial governor of
New South Wales.
Two years later, Sinclair led one group of settlers by sea, and
George Elphinstone Dalrymple led another party overland from
Rockhampton. They met on 11 April 1861 at Port Denison and founded the
town of Bowen on the next day, 12 April 1861. By this time, the
separate colony of Queensland had been established, and the town was
named after Queensland's first colonial governor, Sir George Ferguson
Two years later in 1863, the new settlers discovered a sailor,
James Morril, who had been shipwrecked 17 years previously just to the
north of Bowen. Morril made his home in the new town, and his grave is
still to be seen in the Bowen cemetery.
The coral reefs around Bowen have several shipwrecks, including the SS
Gothenburg which sank in 1875 with a loss of more than 100 lives.
Numerous relics of Bowen's history, from the Aboriginal past onwards,
are on display at the Bowen Historical Society's museum. During World
War 2 Bowen hosted an air force base, flying PBY Catalina flying boats
to search for enemy ships and submarines.