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A trip North up the Bruce Highway to Bowen takes about an hour. The approach to the town from the South has the usual Information centre, with a feature of the Big Mango. The pleasant staff at this centre, are very helpful to visitors. On first sight the big mango looks like an Easter egg, but becomes more realistic from a different angle. The next thing we noticed going into Bowen was the BOWENWOOD sign on the water tower above the town, in the style of the HOLLYWOOD sign in that location.

The reason for the sign, we discovered when we were in Bowen, was that part of the town was roped off as a set for the Baz Luhrmann movie “Australia” with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. There were sandbagged buildings, red dirt streets and an army tent camp. The idea is to represent Darwin during the war. It all looked very effective. The crew were due to move on to Kunnanurra in Western Australia – over 4000km, 2500miles, for the next shoot – maybe we would see them over there.

Bowen brings more golden beaches within reach. There are several in town, and further up the coast, with island views and tideless clear water, snorkelling and coral, close to shore. Stinger nets are provided in a couple of places – do they work? We will stick to the lagoon and the park pool.

A feature of the main town beach, is the golf course laid out along it, making a beautiful location for the golfer. What a great excuse for an afernoon stroll in the fresh air.

Other noteworthy features of the town are a series of beautiful murals, one by Pro Hart, depicting trains, planes, ships, wagons etc. There are a total of twenty-two murals in all. A historical record of the area can be visualised with this series. There are a couple of high points with lookouts to the islands, and a museum. As Queensland’s oldest town, founded in 1861 Bowen was once under consideration as State capital.

Inland you can visit Colinsville, a coalmining town and see the “Coalface Experience”, an audio-visual presentation to show the workings of the mine. (Having had a couple of “school visits” to working coalmines in England – “Doon the Pit”, I did not partake).

On the way back to Airlie, you can take a side trip to Dingo Beach, said to be white sand, a beachcomber’s delight, and Cape Gloucester. The latter is one of the few places on the East coast to see a sunset over the sea, although Airlie can be almost as good.

So there you have it plenty to do on the Whitsunday Mainland!

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