After spending just over 2 weeks in the Whitsundays it was time to be on the road again heading north to Bowen, we packed our things and said goodbye to Airlie Cove. It felt good to be back behind the wheel again in the comfort of our Apollo motorhome and we soon reached the turning for Bowen where we spotted the ‘Big Mango’ outside the touist information centre.
We had a busy day ahead of us so headed straight for the BIG4 Coral Coast Holiday Park, and wow, this park has absolute prime position right on the sea front facing beautiful Queens Beach, 1 of 8 super beaches around Bowen. In front of the park next to it’s private beach are tables and chairs to sit and enjoy the view of the sunset or sunrise if you are up early enough!
We were met by Christin and Kelly from Tourism Bowen who had arranged a weekend full of activities to show us some of the many tourist attractions around the town. Our first stop was for coffee at Jochheims Pie Shop, where as well as excellent coffee you can buy a delicious home made ‘Australian Beef Pie’, definately not to be missed!
Next we went to see some of beaches and bays that Bowen has to offer, some of which you can snorkel from right off the beach, but all are beautiful and have magnificent views.
The history of Bowen from the earliest settlers through to present day has been depicted on 25 wonderful murals painted on buildings around the town, and a map showing where they are located for a self-guided tour can be obtained at the information centre.
The weather was perfect and the view from Flagstaff Hill where we had lunch was stunning, ‘360 on the Hill’ serves delicious food with views out over the water to Gloucester and Stone Islands, overlooking Bowen’s beaches and township and also the marina and yacht club, our next destination.
Twice a week members of the club hold a yacht race where they depart from the marina, sail around Stone Island and back to the marina. We were invited to join Geoff and his crew on his yacht ‘Meander’ for the race and wow, what a brilliant time we had! The weather was perfect for sailing and we enjoyed every minute, especially when we saw a Manta Ray swimming in the clear water close to the yacht. The ‘Meander’ came second in the race and we joined the crews of the other yachts back at the club house for a celebratory drink.
We had been invited to visit Walter and Judy Willcox who have a hibiscus farm on the outskirts of Bowen, their beautiful garden is a kaleidoscope of colour from the hundreds of hibiscus flowers, all of which have been lovingly grown by them. All the plants have different colour flowers and names, some of the flowers measuring a foot across, but all absolutely beautiful. If only we could grow hibiscus like that in our garden in England!
Bowen’s international claim to fame was in 2007 when the epic movie ‘Australia’ was filmed around the town. With so many beautiful heritage buildings, a pier, sea front and wide streets, it fitted exactly the location that producer Baz Luhrmann was looking for. Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackson starred in the film and hundreds of local people appeared as extras. The Summergarden Theatre played an important part in the production as the ‘rushes’ of each days filming were shown here to Baz and his crew thanks to the owner of the theatre Ben De Luca. Ben gave us a tour of his theatre which he has owned since 1962 and has maintained in immaculate condition, retaining the charm of the original design, however the projector room has all the latest equipment and can show different productions in each of the 2 studios concurrently. In one of the studios there was a screening of Disney ‘Cars 2’ so we had a sneak preview and can boast to our grandchildren we saw it before them!
There are host of attractions in Bowen, many beautiful beaches to enjoy and friendly people to meet so put it on your list of places to spend some quality time in.