|Bowen – 4 January to 8 January (4 nights)
The 203km drive from Townsville to Bowen was very picturesque with mountain ranges most of the way and endless fields of sugar cane. After passing through a nice little town called Ayr, you come to the Burdekin River, which is notorious for flooding during the wet season and this year, with all the rain, it was really impressive. The bridge itself is something to behold and unfortunately we came upon it by surprise, so didn’t get a chance to stop and take pics. Once you’re on the very narrow bridge there’s no stopping. Due to the special construction of the bridge, with steel beams forming a truss over the highway, it is regularly being closed to let oversize road trains pass, which take up both lanes on the narrow bridge. The Bridge, which took 10 years to construct was completed in 1957 and is 1097 metres (3,600 ft) in length (longer than the Sydney Harbour Bridge). The actual river water level was about a metre below the bridge and was flowing at one hell of a rate of knots.
Bowen is situated 1162km NW of Brisbane and has a population of about 8,000. In 1861 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, led one group of settlers by sea, and George Elphinstone Dalrymple led another party overland from Rockhampton. They met on 11 April 1861 and founded the town of Bowen on the next day, 12 April 1861. Bowen enjoys a diversified and prosperous economy based on agriculture, fishing, tourism, and mining. Bowen's 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 and capsicums. Outside the alluvial plain, much of the Bowen Shire is used for beef cattle. It is also home to the “Big Mango”.
The town of Bowen is a nice little town and is split into 2 main sections – the beach and the harbour. The main beach at Bowen (Queen’s beach) is a mixture of residential, resort and caravan park accommodation and the beach itself can best be described as ok, with the old problem of stingers being ever present. It’s such a pity as the crystal clear turquoise water looks so inviting. Oh well there’s always the park swimming pool to cool off in. The harbour area has undergone a major redevelopment recently and the facilities are really good for both locals and tourists alike. The area is dominated by a fairly long jetty (not sure how long it is – probably about half as long as the Busselton Jetty) and needless to say, Lin and I made it our duty to walk its entire length (in the heat of the day) – will we ever learn? No probably not – too bloody old to change, anyway why on earth would you want to change perfection.
Walking distance from our van park is Horseshoe Bay, which was fabulous (Lin’s word) and reminded me of a little “Meelup” with the rocks, white sand and bluest of blue water. There is a beachside café so we duly made it our duty to sample the fare and were not disappointed with the result. We also came across a Rotary sponsored walking track and will give it a test run at some later date. We had a drive into the little town and found it was bigger than we had first thought and even has a “Woolies”, so our efforts at stocking up in Townsville were a waste of time. We bought some freshly caught (that day) Coral Trout at the harbour and I cooked it that evening and to say that it was divine was one of the understatements of the year – jeez I’m good when I put my culinary skills to the test. It’s so easy - season with a little salt and pepper (and nothing else) and chuck into a hot frying pan (no oil or butter or anything) and cook as required (depends how thick the fillets are), but whatever you do – don’t overcook. Yeeehaaa.
Woke up next morning and guess what – yep spot on – another “beastie” episode. The outside of the van was literally covered in green ants The damn things were everywhere and had gained access to the van by means of climbing up the awning legs and guy ropes. I had put ant powder around the base of the vans stabilising legs (as per normal), but never thought about the other bits and pieces as they had never been an issue before. So how the hell do you get rid of 25 million green ants? Quite easy really – blow the van up or set fire to it – that’s how. Expensive, but very effective. But for us poor old pensioners the alternative was to use a pair of tweezers and remove them one by one. Almost as exciting as watching the grass grow. No not really – even I’m not that stupid – it was 2 cans of good old Mortein insect spray to the rescue and "problem solvered". I reckon I cracked a Guinness Book of World Records by knocking off that many ants with just 2 cans of spray. But we’ll never know, as try as I may, I just couldn’t convince Lin that as I was the hunter, she should be the one to count the kill – no sense of adventure, that woman.
After the green ant elimination exercise it was off on a drive to the “Flagstaff Lookout”, which is atop a fairly steep hill near the harbour. From this vantage point you get a magnificent view of the entire town and the surrounding Coral Sea. It really is very impressive and should be considered a must if you’re ever in the area. We also drove up “Mount Hutt” (not sure why its called “Mount Hutt” as it probably only just qualifies to be a hill, never mind a mountain) for a view of the area from a different angle and it’s also a good spot to see the mighty “Don River” where it joins the Coral Sea. This was quite spectacular as the river is in flood at the moment. This lookout is atop a fairly tall water reservoir with a very precarious set of steps and handrail and once I had climbed these steps, I began to feel a little more weird than normal, so after the compulsory pic, took my leave and gingerly made my way down to the base. From here it was on to “Hospital Hill” and the famous “Bowenwood” sign painted on a water reservoir on the hill. For those that don’t know it, Bowen was used extensively as a backdrop (think that’s the right word) in the filming of the movie “Australia” with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, so some local joker took it upon himself to create his very own “Hollywood” sign. There’s a local pub in town which featured quite prominently in the film too, that one can visit and whilst there, sample some of their wares.
Ended the day with another, very gentle, jog along the coastal walkway on Queens Bay. At one stage a bloke with only one leg and a walking stick overtook me - so I tripped him up!!! The weather has varied dramatically, with it being scorching when there’s no cloud about and unbelievably humid when there is cloud. Almost daily there is a build up, with plenty of lightning followed by a thunderstorm and lashings of rain.
On our way out of town, heading for our next stop at Airlie Beach, we came across the “Big Mango”, so stopped for another compulsory photo.
(Horseshoe Bay Caravan Park) – Average park on a fantastic location, but needs some much needed maintenance. Ablutions are a disgrace. The Big4 caravan park (just up the road) looks a hell of a lot nicer, although not much shade.
A really nice golf course, but not enough time to get in a game, so no change in status. He is still scared that I just might win the next game !!!!!!!! LIN SIGNING OFF
So the progressive tally is:-
Next stop is Airlie Beach – a whole 79kms away.