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Bowen, Queensland facts for kids

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A collage of images of Bowen.jpg
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
Bowen is located in Queensland
Location in Queensland
Population 10,377 (2016 census locality)
 • Density 6.2822/km2 (16.271/sq mi)
Postcode(s) 4805
Area 1,651.8 km2 (637.8 sq mi)
Time zone AEST (UTC+10:00)
LGA(s) Whitsunday Region
State electorate(s) Burdekin
Federal Division(s) Dawson
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
28.5 °C
83 °F
19.8 °C
68 °F
1,009.6 mm
39.7 in
Localities around Bowen:
Guthalungra Coral Sea Coral Sea
Bogie Bowen Gregory River
Bogie Lake Proserpine Mount Pluto

Bowen is a coastal town and locality in the Whitsunday Region, Queensland, Australia. In the 2016 census the locality of Bowen had a population of 10,377 people.

The locality contains two other towns:

  • Heronvale (20°06′25″S 148°17′36″E / 20.107°S 148.2933°E / -20.107; 148.2933 (Heronvale, Queensland))
  • Merinda (20°00′59″S 148°09′53″E / 20.0164°S 148.1647°E / -20.0164; 148.1647 (Merinda, Queensland)).

The Abbot Point coal shipping port is also within the locality (19°52′54″S 148°04′46″E / 19.8816°S 148.0795°E / -19.8816; 148.0795 (Abbot Point)).


Bowen is located on the north-east coast, in North Queensland, Australia, at exactly twenty degrees south of the equator. The twentieth parallel crosses the main street. 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.


StateLibQld 1 86248 Bowen Turf Club, ca. 1910
Bowen Turf Club, ca. 1910

Discovery by Europeans

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. This bay was eventually discovered 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.

Establishment of the town

Two years later, Sinclair led one group of settlers by sea, and George Elphinstone Dalrymple led another party overland from Rockhampton. They met on 11 April 1861 at Port Denison and founded the town of Bowen on the next day, 13 April 1861. By this time, Queensland had separated from New South Wales, and the town was named after the first Queensland colonial governor, Sir George Bowen.

Port Denison Post Office opened on 1 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 Jan 1909. Queens Beach State School opened on 25 November 1940.

World War 2

11 Sqn (AWM P01490002)
Catalina flying boats from No. 11 Squadron RAAF.

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.


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
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 38.1
Average high °C (°F) 31.5
Average low °C (°F) 23.8
Record low °C (°F) 17.7
Rainfall mm (inches) 176.5
Avg. 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

Heritage listings

Bowen has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


Big mango
The Big Mango, Bowen, Queensland.

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.

Sister cities


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.


According to the 2016 census, 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%.


Bowen State School is a government primary (Early Childhood-6) school for boys and girls at 29 Kennedy Street (20°00′36″S 148°14′38″E / 20.0101°S 148.2438°E / -20.0101; 148.2438 (Bowen State School)). In 2015, it had an enrolment of 480 students with 34 teachers (30 full-time equivalent). In 2018, the school had an enrolment of 448 students with 31 teachers (30 full-time equivalent) and 22 non-teaching staff (15 full-time equivalent). It includes a special education program.

Queens Beach State School is a government primary (Prep-6) school for boys and girls at 39 Tracey Street (19°58′34″S 148°13′38″E / 19.9761°S 148.2271°E / -19.9761; 148.2271 (Queens Beach State School)). In 2014 (when it was a P-7 school), it had an enrolment of 452 students with 32 teachers (30 full-time equivalent). In 2018, the school had an enrolment of 426 students with 35 teachers (31 full-time equivalent) and 22 non-teaching staff (13 full-time equivalent).

Merinda State School is a government primary (Prep-6) school for boys and girls at Bergl Street (20°01′12″S 148°09′49″E / 20.0201°S 148.1636°E / -20.0201; 148.1636 (Merinda State School)). In 2015, it had an enrolment of 87 students with 7 teachers (5 full-time equivalent). In 2018, the school had an enrolment of 55 students with 4 teachers and 6 non-teaching staff (3 full-time equivalent).

St Mary's Catholic School is a Catholic primary (Prep-6) school for boys and girls at 39 Poole Street (20°00′41″S 148°14′32″E / 20.0115°S 148.2421°E / -20.0115; 148.2421 (St Mary's Catholic School)). In 2015, it had an enrolment of 83 students. In 2018, the school had an enrolment of 71 students with 11 teachers (5 full-time equivalent) and 9 non-teaching staff (5 full-time equivalent).

Bowen State High School is a government secondary (7-12) school for boys and girls at 1-9 Argyle Park Road (19°59′57″S 148°14′08″E / 19.9991°S 148.2355°E / -19.9991; 148.2355 (Bowen State High School)). In 2015, it had an enrolment of 657 students with 58 teachers (56 full-time equivalent). In 2018, the school had an enrolment of 622 students with 58 teachers (56 full-time equivalent) and 37 non-teaching staff (28 full-time equivalent). It includes a special education program.

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.

Notable residents

  • Sir Charles Newton Barton (1907 - 1987) commissioner of main roads and co-ordinator-general of public works.
  • Edith Bethel (1871 - 1929) political organiser.
  • Douglas James (Jim) Darwen (1906 - 1988) newspaper-owner and editor.
  • Korah Halcomb Wills (1828 - 1896) mayor of Bowen
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