Bowen Queensland: Is it worth exploring?

picture of bowen beach
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Unlike the Great Green Way, the road between Townsville and Mackay has few places of interest to stop along the way. Bowen is a natural halfway point and touted as being the northernmost town of the Whitsunday region, but is it really worth stopping there to explore?

Mangoes and movie stars

Bowen Queensland is known for three things: 1) Bowen Mangoes (yes, it even has a big mango icon), 2) hosting Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman while they filmed ‘Australia’ and 3) it’s beaches.

bowen beachesFor those who haven’t been to this part of the world before, Bowen sits on a peninsula with views across to Gloucester Island and the Whitsunday Coast, but if you’re expecting something like Airlie Beach, you’ll probably be disappointed.

Bowen is not geared up for tourism, it’s economy is based on fruit and vegetables, fishing, cattle grazing, salt, coke and coal (as the nearby Abbot Point port is Australia’s northernmost coal shipping port).

I’ll be honest – I’d previously heard conflicting reports about Bowen. Some labelled it boring and suggested bypassing the town altogether while others raved about the town’s beautiful beaches.

I’ve driven past Bowen many times and even stopped there for short pit stops but I’d never seen its beaches so I wanted to discover if I was missing anything.

bowen’s beaches

beaches in bowenWe arrived at 4.00pm on a Monday afternoon and there was nobody to be seen. From experience, Bowen often seems sleepy and deserted with wide empty roads and shops that usually look closed.

Based on a recommendation, we aimed for Horseshoe Bay but with only one sign pointing to the ‘beach areas’ and no street map, we soon got lost.

As it turns out this was a good thing as it allowed us to really explore the town.

Horseshoe bay

horseshoe bay bowenWhen we finally found Horseshoe Bay, we were pleasantly surprised at what a pretty little beach it was with rocky outcrops and boulders.

There’s a walking trail that starts from here with great views of the area and a café opposite the beach.

If you’re looking for Bowen accommodation, there’s a hotel perched right on the rocky headland with beach access (Whitsunday Sands Resort) and a fairly nice caravan park, also with ocean views.

We ended up spending one evening in Bowen and didn’t feel the need to stay any longer.

The views are nice although different to the Whitsundays since the landscape is flat, dry and scrubby rather than lush and green. The town itself is pleasant enough but to be completely honest I wouldn’t recommend staying here unless you’re tired from driving and need a break.

We took a few nice photos at sunset, enjoyed rock-hopping on the beach, had an early night and then left first thing in the morning.

Bowen Queensland may be fairly close to the Whitsunday region but make it part of your journey, rather than a destination.

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