Bowen, Queensland

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A collage of images of Bowen.jpg
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
Bowen is located in Queensland
Coordinates 20°01′0″S 148°14′0″E / 20.01667°S 148.23333°E / -20.01667; 148.23333Coordinates: 20°01′0″S 148°14′0″E / 20.01667°S 148.23333°E / -20.01667; 148.23333
Population 10,260 (2011 census)[1]
Postcode(s) 4805
Elevation 5 m (16 ft)
LGA(s) Whitsunday Region
State electorate(s) Burdekin
Federal Division(s) Dawson
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
28.5 °C
83 °F
19.8 °C
68 °F
1,009.6 mm
39.7 in
Localities around Bowen:
Guthalungra Coral Sea Coral Sea
Bogie Bowen Gregory River
Bogie Lake Proserpine Mount Pluto

Bowen is a town and locality in the Whitsunday Region on the eastern coast of Queensland, Australia.[2][3] At the 2011 census, Bowen had a population of 10,260.[1]


Bowen is located on the north-east coast, in North Queensland, Australia, at exactly twenty degrees south of the equator. The twentieth parallel crosses the main street.[citation needed] Bowen is halfway between Townsville and Mackay, and 1,130 kilometres (700 mi) by road from Brisbane.

Bowen sits on a square peninsula, with the Coral Sea to the north, east, and south. To the south-east is Port Denison.[4] 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 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 area 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 Legislative Assembly. 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 was the administrative centre for the Shire of Bowen. On 15 March 2008, under the Local Government (Reform Implementation) Act 2007 passed by the Parliament of Queensland on 10 August 2007, the Shire of Bowen merged with the Shire of Whitsunday to form the Whitsunday Region.[5][6] Although Proserpine is the administrative centre for the new regional council, the council maintains offices in Bowen and holds a number of council meetings in Bowen each year.[7][8]


Bowen Turf Club, ca. 1910

Discovery by Europeans[edit]

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.[citation needed] Sinclair named Port Denison after the colonial governor of New South Wales, William Denison.

Establishment of the town[edit]

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, Queensland had separated from New South Wales, and the town was named after the first Queensland colonial governor, Sir George Bowen.

Port Denison Post Office opened on 1 April 1861 and was renamed Bowen by 1865.[9]


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 State School opened in 1865. Between 1877 and 1922, it operated as two schools: Bowen Boys State School and Bowen Girls and Infants State School. A secondary department was added to Bowen State School in 1928. On 23 January 1961, the secondary department was replaced by Bowen State High School.[10]

St Mary's School was opened on 1 September 1872. Merinda Provisional School opened in 1898 and became Merinda State School on 1 Jan 1909. Queens Beach State School opened on 25 November 1940.[10]

World War 2[edit]

Catalina flying boats from No. 11 Squadron RAAF.

During World War 2 Bowen hosted an air force base, flying PBY Catalina flying boats to search for enemy ships and submarines. The concrete aprons and ramp are still present (2013), and silhouettes of two aircraft have been painted in.


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 town's latitude, the trade winds provide a pleasant breeze. The warmest month is January, with an average maximum temperature of 31 °C (88 °F). The coolest month is July, with an average maximum temperature of 25 °C (77 °F) and an average overnight minimum of 13 °C (57 °F).

Climate data for Bowen
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 38.1
Average high °C (°F) 31.5
Average low °C (°F) 23.8
Record low °C (°F) 17.7
Average rainfall mm (inches) 176.5
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2mm) 11.9 12.6 10.3 8.2 6.2 5.1 3.5 2.6 2.3 3.4 6.7 9.4 82.2
Source: Bureau of Meteorology[11]


Bowen is serviced by Six free to air channels. Bowen picks up regional affiliates and can possibly pick up Brisbane channels. The Brisbane channels are:

  • Seven Brisbane (BTQ)
  • Nine Brisbane (QTQ)
  • Ten Brisbane (TVQ)

The regional affiliates are:

Foxtel is also available in the Bowen area

Heritage listings[edit]

Bowen has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


The Big Mango, Bowen, Queensland.

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.

The Big Mango, costing $90,000 to create, was erected in 2002 as a tourist attraction at the Bowen Tourist Information Centre. In February 2014, the 10-metre high, seven-tonne fibreglass structure was stolen in an overnight operation.[17] The mango was found the next day and it was later revealed that the theft had been a publicity stunt.[18]


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.[19] Bowen was chosen as a prospect due to the financing of $500,000 by the Queensland government.[20] The production moved to Bowen on 14 May 2007.[21]

When it was announced that Australia was to be filmed in Bowen, locals painted a large "Bowenwood" sign on an old water tank on top of a hill, in a parody of the world-famous Hollywood sign.


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 State School is a government co-educational primary school (P-6) at 29 Kennedy Street. In 2015, it had an enrolment of 480 students with 34 teachers (30 full-time equivalent).[22]

Queens Beach State School is a government co-educational primary school (P-6) at 39 Tracey Street. In 2014 (when it was a P-7 school), it had an enrolment of 452 students with 32 teachers (30 full-time equivalent).[23]

Merinda State School is a government co-educational primary school (P-6) at Bergl Street. In 2015, it had an enrolment of 87 students with 7 teachers (5 full-time equivalent).[24]

St Mary's Catholic School is a Roman Catholic co-educational primary school (P-6) at 39 Poole Street. In 2015, it had an enrolment of 83 students.[25]

Bowen State High School is a government co-education secondary school (7-12) at 1-9 Argyle Park Road. In 2015, it had an enrolment of 657 students with 58 teachers (56 full-time equivalent).[26]

TAFE Queensland North is a government co-educational tertiary institute for vocational skills. Its Bowen campus is at 98-158 Queens Road. Before 2013, the Bowen campus was part of the Barrier Reef Institute of TAFE. [27]

Notable residents[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Bowen (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 5 December 2012. 
  2. ^ "Bowen - town (entry 4104)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "Bowen - locality (entry 49069)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  4. ^ "Port Denison (entry 9741)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 9 January 2016. 
  5. ^ "Agency ID349, Bowen Shire Council". Queensland State Archives. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "Agency ID11036, Whitsunday Regional Council". Queensland State Archives. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Council opening times and locations | Whitsunday Regional Council". Retrieved 9 January 2016. 
  8. ^ "Council Meetings | Whitsunday Regional Council". Retrieved 9 January 2016. 
  9. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Queensland Family History Society (2010), Queensland schools past and present (Version 1.01 ed.), Queensland Family History Society, ISBN 978-1-921171-26-0 
  11. ^ "Bowen Airport". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. March 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  12. ^ "Flemington Road Cemetery (entry 601487)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  13. ^ "Bowen Harbour Board Building (former) (entry 600041)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  14. ^ "Whitsunday Region Local Heritage Register: Bowen Post Office". Whitsunday Regional Council. Retrieved 29 May 2016. 
  15. ^ "Bowen State School (entry 602817)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  16. ^ "Bowen Court House (entry 600044)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  17. ^ Silva, Kristian (24 February 2014). "Big Mango stolen from Bowen". The Land. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  18. ^ Ironside, Robyn (25 February 2014). "Big Mango tourist attraction stolen from Bowen has been found". The Courier Mail. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  19. ^ "Luhrmann epic to be shot in Bowen". The West Australian. 12 December 2006. Retrieved 28 April 2007. 
  20. ^ Des Partridge; Rosanne Barrett (13 December 2006). "Grant lures Baz". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 29 April 2007. 
  21. ^ Rachel Browne (16 April 2007). "Other Tom gives Nic saddle tips". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 29 April 2007. 
  22. ^ "2015 School Annual Report" (PDF). Bowen State School. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  23. ^ "2014 School Annual Report" (PDF). Queens Beach State School. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  24. ^ "2015 School Annual Report" (PDF). Merinda State School. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  25. ^ "School Reporting 2015" (PDF). Diocese of Townsville Catholic Education. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  26. ^ "2015 School Annual Report" (PDF). Bowen State High School. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  27. ^ "Bowen - TAFE, Queensland". TAFE North Queensland. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  28. ^ "Sir Charles Newton Barton (1907 - 1987)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 2007. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  29. ^ "Bethel, Edith (1871–1929)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 2005. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  30. ^ "Darwen, Douglas James (Jim) (1906–1988)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 2007. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  31. ^ "Bowen and Collinsville" (PDF). Tourism Bowen. p. 14. Retrieved 18 August 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]