Top: Playground at Bowen Foreshore, Middle left: Bowen Foreshore, Middle right: Walkway along Santa Barbara parade, Bottom left: Muller's Lagoon, Bottom right: Bowen Skatebowl
|Elevation||5 m (16 ft)|
|LGA(s)||Whitsunday Regional Council|
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 halfway between Townsville and Mackay, and 1,130 kilometres by road from Brisbane.
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.
The town is located in the dry tropics. It is noticeably drier than surrounding locations due to a rain shadow effect produced by the nearby Gloucester Island. Due to the towns latitude, the Trade Winds provide a pleasant breeze. The warmest month is January, with an average maximum temperature of 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit). The coolest month is July, with an average maximum temperature of 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) and an average overnight minimum of 14 degrees Celsius (57 degrees Fahrenheit).
The town enjoys a diversified and prosperous economy based on agriculture, fishing, tourism, and mining. Its unusually dry climate for a tropical location, plus its fertile alluvial soil, makes it the ideal place to grow a wide variety of small crops, including tomatoes, rockmelons (i.e., cantaloupes), and capsicums (i.e., green peppers). Outside the alluvial plain, much of the Bowen Shire is used for beef cattle.
Just north of Bowen is the Abbot Point coal loading port. Coal mined inland of Bowen in Collinsville and other towns in the Bowen Basin is brought by rail to a deepwater pier to be loaded on bulk carriers. Coal is exported mainly to China and India.
In 1944 Bowen elected a Communist, Fred Paterson, to Queensland State Parliament. He was re-elected in 1947, but lost the seat in 1950 when the boundaries were changed to include Bowen in the seat of Whitsunday. Bowen is part of the Whitsunday Regional Council area and contains the councils northern offices.
Captain 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 somewhere 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, 13 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 Bowen.
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.
Bowen is on a peninsula, with ocean on three sides. This gives 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 Gloucester Island. On the western half of Queens Beach and all of Kings Beach, it is permitted to walk a dog without a leash.
In December 2006, it was announced that Bowen was chosen as a filming location for a third of the production of Australia, directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, portraying the look of Darwin. Bowen was chosen as a prospect due to the financing of $500,000 by the Queensland government. The production moved to Bowen on 14 May 2007.
Bowen boasts a cinema, the Summergarden Twin Theatre, the Denison Hotel, the Queens Beach Hotel, the Central Hotel, the North Australian Hotel, the Commercial Hotel, Barnacles Backpackers and the Grand View Hotel. It also offers four motels and seven caravan parks. There is also a golf course that overlooks Queens Beach.
Bowen has 3 primary schools which are Bowen State Primary, Queensbeach State Primary School and St Mary's catholic primary school. It has 1 public high school (Bowen State High). It also has a campus of the Barrier Reef Institute of Tafe.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Bowen (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
- "Luhrmann epic to be shot in Bowen". The West Australian. 12 December 2006. Retrieved 28 April 2007.
- Des Partridge; Rosanne Barrett (13 December 2006). "Grant lures Baz". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 29 April 2007.
- Rachel Browne (16 April 2007). "Other Tom gives Nic saddle tips". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved 29 April 2007.