Destination Guide: Bowen, QLD

Bowen 960x 350

Experience one of Queensland’s best kept secrets with a visit to Bowen and its multitude of first class beaches.

Read on to discover the best things to see and do in Bowen or find and book accommodation in Bowen today.

About Bowen

Located in the Whitsundays, Bowen has a long history, with the town first settled by Europeans in 1861. Consequently, the streets are very wide to enable horse and carts to turn around and there are many historical buildings of interest, including an impressive museum.  Bowen is perhaps most famous for its production of delicious mangoes, but there is a lot more to this seaside town than top notch produce.

Things to do in Bowen

Fishing is very good around Bowen and there is a huge variety of fish to be caught. You can fish from the rocks, beach or the jetty, which is a good spot for catching squid at night. If you have a tinnie, try Innaminka Rocks just off Grays Bay, or the coral reefs just offshore from Queens Beach and Rose Bay. I have caught Spanish mackerel as well as bottom dwelling fish at Innaminka. Creek fishing is very productive in windy weather and may also produce some large mud crabs.

Bowen has eight ‘named’ beaches, all offering something unique. However, Front Beach is perhaps the most fascinating, as it features an interpretive centre commemorating the Catalina sea planes that were based in Bowen during WWII. The old runway is now part of the local yacht club, which is at the entrance to the boat harbour and welcomes visitors for drinks and meals.

Most beaches have paved walking tracks around or between them, some with exercise stations. Some of the more popular walks include the Queens Beach Walk, Hansen Park to Horseshoe Bay, Front Beach and jetty, and Mullers Lagoon.

While there is quite a selection of restaurants, pubs and takeaways in Bowen (try a Jochheims’ pie), some people like a more touristy day out. Airlie Beach, the jumping off point for many reef trips and Whitsunday Island cruises, is only an hour’s drive south, making a day trip out to the reef an option from Bowen. Collinsville is a coal mining town only an hour-and-a-half drive west of Bowen and is also an interesting place to visit.

Attractions in Bowen

Flagstaff Hill

Flagstaff Hill is the best-known lookout in the area and has an interpretive centre there as well as a cafe. You can drive up, but the road is not suitable for caravans. Binoculars are provided for a more detailed view. You will see Gloucester Island in the background and several other inshore islands below, as well as Kings Beach and Rose Bay. Looking north you will see the coal loading wharf at Abbott Point, and ships lying at anchor waiting to load, as well as Holbourne Island in the distance.

Also worth a look is Horseshoe Bay lookout track, which is accessed from the southern end of Horseshoe Bay and passes a WWII radar station on the way to Mother Beddock rock lookout.

Mullers Lagoon

Mullers Lagoon is a haven for a multitude of birdlife, particularly in the dry season. More than 170 different birds have been recorded there and the lagoon held many different migratory birds when we visited in summer. A botanical garden has been planted around the lagoon. The colourful bougainvillea and fragrant frangipani are thriving, and there are a number of beds of special tropical plants. You will find a bird hide on the eastern side of the 24ha lagoon, and barbecues and toilet facilities as well as a kids’ playground.

Getting to Bowen

Located on Queensland’s east coast, Bowen is around 200km south of Townsville and 200km north of Mackay.

By car

Bowen is a two hour and twenty minute drive from Townsville via National Highway A1, and a two hour and ten minute drive from Mackay via Bruce Highway.

When to visit Bowen

Bowen is often very busy in winter, so it would pay to make a booking before you arrive or do what we do and travel in the off-peak season when prices are generally lower and there are fewer people around.

Where to stay in Bowen

For accommodation options in and around Bowen, click here.