Bowen is a coastal town and locality in the Whitsunday Region on the eastern coast of Queensland, Australia. The town of Merinda and the Abbot Point coal shipping port are also within the locality of Bowen. At the 2016 census, Bowen had a population of 10,377.
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
|Population||10,377 (2016 census)|
|• Density||5.8670/km2 (15.1955/sq mi)|
|Elevation||5 m (16 ft)|
|Area||1,768.7 km2 (682.9 sq mi)|
Bowen is located on the north-east coast, in North Queensland, Australia, at exactly twenty degrees south of the equator. 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. 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.
Merinda is a hinterland town 8 km west of Bowen.
The Bruce Highway enters the locality from the east, approaches but does not enter the town of Bowen itself, but then turns west to pass through Merinda before exiting the locality to the north-west. The North Coast railway line follows a similar route through the locality but enters the town of Bowen which is served by the Bowen railway station. At Merinda railway station, there is the junction with the Collinsville-Newlands railway line servicing the Bowen basin Coalfields. The Collinsville-Newlands line extends to the coal-handling port at Abbot Point, also within the locality of Bowen. The railway station servicing the port is the Abbot Point railway station.
Two of Bowen's main streets are named after officers of the British colonial paramilitary Native Police force. Powell Street is named after Lieutenant Walter David Taylor Powell and Williams Street is named after Lieutenant Ewan G. Williams.
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., bell 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. 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.
British exploration and incursionEdit
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. The first British exploration of this bay was 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, William Denison.
On 11 September 1860, George Elphinstone Dalrymple on his naval excursion in the schooner "Spitfire" to search for the mouth of the Burdekin River, landed in Port Denison. He named and climbed Mount Gordon to survey the region and observed that a river (later named the Don River) traversed a valley just behind Port Denison and into the sea. This river was "lined with camps and bush fires of the natives" indicating "the locality to be very thickly inhabited". The "Spitfire" continued its exploration north to Magnetic Island, but the surveyors came to the conclusion that the northeastern shore Port Denison was the most suitable site in the region for settlement especially as the large native wells present in a creek bed there could be utilised as a water supply. On 5 October, Dalrymple again came ashore to appropriate control of these wells. He writes:
"As I approached the beach a number of armed natives appeared to wish to dispute our landing, but as the object in view was a necessity, I..formed open line and advanced. The natives..retired at our approach into a small strip of scrub commanding the wells. This we entered in the same order, cleared it and placed sentries.."
Confident in having secured a beach-head, Dalrymple explored the immediate vicinity near the wells that was to become the town of Bowen. He found a large Aboriginal tomb in the hills behind the beach that was in the form of a raised mound covered in bark with its surroundings swept clean and the paths leading to it closed off with branches. A similar tomb was found on nearby Stone Island. After a few days, Dalrymple and his surveying party on the "Spitfire" returned south.
Establishment of the townEdit
In 1861, George Elphinstone Dalrymple set out again for the area, leading an overland expedition from Rockhampton, complemented with a naval contingent to rendezvous at Port Denison and establish a permanent settlement. Dalrymple planned this two pronged entry into the area because 'a sudden cooperation of land and sea forces..would either strike terror, which would result in immediate flight, or enable a blow to be struck' against the local aboriginals of which many had been seen camped around the harbour. To facilitate this plan, Dalrymple travelled with Lieutenant Williams and six Native Police troopers, while Lieutenant Walter Powell and his troopers travelled on the ships. These ships were the Jeannie Dove and the Santa Barbara under the command of Capt. McDermott. The maritime group arrived first and waited for Dalrymple's overland party by camping on Stone Island at the mouth of the harbour. Dalrymple's group, which included 140 horses and 121 cattle, arrived on 11 April 1861. He rode down to the area on the foreshore 'beside the native wells' (which was to be the water supply of the settlement) in order 'to clear off the aborigines from the same, should such be necessary' and to signal McDermott's group on Stone Island. The local aboriginals had already fled. The settlers on Stone Island then came over to the site and the town of Port Denison was founded. Dalrymple wrote that it was 'Deeply gratifying to me to see the British flag flying over the spot where..a few days ago, the wild aboriginal held undisputed sway', and that the settlement marked 'the advance of another great wave of Anglo-Australian energy'.
After Queensland had separated from New South Wales, the town was renamed Bowen after the first Queensland colonial governor, Sir George Bowen. Port Denison Post Office opened in April 1861 and was renamed Bowen by 1865.
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.
St Mary's School was opened on 1 September 1872. Merinda Provisional School opened in 1898 and became Merinda State School on 1 January 1909. Queens Beach State School opened on 25 November 1940.
World War 2Edit
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.
Bowen has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
According to the 2016 census of Population, there were 10,377 people in Bowen.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 9.2% of the population.
- 74.2% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were New Zealand 2.4%, England 2.0%, South Korea 1.3%, Philippines 1.1% and Taiwan 1.0%.
- 81.5% of people only spoke English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Mandarin 1.5% and Korean 1.2%,
- The most common responses for religion were No Religion 25.8%, Catholic 20.5% and Anglican 17.6%.
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|
|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|
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:
The regional affiliates are:
Foxtel is also available in the Bowen area
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. The mango was found the next day and it was later revealed that the theft had been a publicity stunt.
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.
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.
Major airlines service Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast) airport located south of Bowen, this is the nearest major airport to the town.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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).
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.
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