Bowen is in the Whitsunday region, an hour north of Airlie Beach, Queensland. It is famous for its Bowen Mangoes and the filming location for a third of the movie Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
Our family visited this town as part of our Queensland road trip. This travel guide shows you what to do in Bowen along with useful tips to plan your holiday, including weather, accommodation, and how to get there.
Where is Bowen?
Bowen is halfway between Mackay and Townsville, on the north-east coast of Queensland, Australia.
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How to get to Bowen
International visitors will need to fly via Brisbane or Sydney. From there, take a domestic flight to Mackay, Proserpine (near Airlie Beach), or Townsville. Find details about visas, prohibited items, currency, and safety on our Australia page.
If you haven’t booked your flight yet, look at our travel resources to find out how to get the best flight deals.
Alternatively, you could make Bowen part of a Brisbane to Cairns road trip.
Car Hire – There are a few car hire companies available at the airport. I use Rentalcars.com to compare prices. I usually find that Europcar has the best deals for us. (we hired a Toyota Camry from them on this trip). My links will take you directly to the sites.
TIP: The earlier car hire is booked, the more options there are, and the lowest prices. Click on the above car rental links to get great deals.
Bowen 7 Day Forecast & Weather
Bowen has a tropical climate meaning the summers are generally hot and wet. Winter days are warm and sunny, although night temperatures can drop.
The wettest months are January and February, with September being the driest.
The daytime maximum temperatures are around 31 degrees during the summer (wet season) and 24-25 degrees during the winter (dry season).
Bowen’s cyclone season is from November through to April.
See the detailed 7-day forecast at the Bureau of Meteorology.
Brief History of Bowen
I would like to respectfully acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal People, the Traditional Owners, and First People of these lands. I would like to pay my respects to the Elders past, present, and future, for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture, and hopes of the Aboriginal People.
Captain Henry Daniel Sinclair discovered Port Denison in 1859 when a reward was offered to find a port north of Rockhampton.
Two years later, Sinclair led an expedition by sea, while George Elphinstone Dalrymple led another group by land from Rockhampton to Port Denison.
In 1865, the town was renamed after the Queensland colonial governor, Sir George Bowen, when Queensland had separated from New South Wales.
The primary industries in Bowen are agriculture, fishing, tourism, and coal mining.
What To Do in Bowen Qld
The Big Mango
The Big Mango was our first stop in Bowen. This giant 10-metre high mango cost $90,000 to create a tourist attraction in 2002.
The 7-tonne mango was stolen in 2014 but found the next day. It turned out to be a publicity stunt by Nandos.
It’s a good stop for a photo, but the best part is the mango sorbet sold inside the Tourist Information Centre.
As mentioned above, Bowen produces the Kensington Pride (or Bowen Mango) mango, which originated from India. This variety accounts for over 80% of Australia’s yearly commercial supply.
Flagstaff Hill is a must when visiting Bowen for 360-degree views over the area. Look out to Gloucester Island, Cape Edgecumbe, Queens Bay, and Abbot Point.
It’s an easy walk from the car park, so no climbing is required.
If you are there around June to September, you may be lucky enough to see whales breaching just off the coast.
North Head Island and its historic lighthouse are viewable from here.
Binoculars are available to use for A$2 or bring your own.
We visited during the day, but it would be a great place at sunset.
Horseshoe Bay & Horseshoe Bay Lookout
We fell in love with the beautiful Horseshoe Bay. The sheltered sandy bay is so picturesque (as can be seen from the lookout). The calm crystal clear water and granite outcrops add to the beauty of this beach.
Horseshoe Bay is the most popular of all Bowen’s twelve beaches and includes a kiosk, an amenities block, and a shady picnic area. We found a lovely spot under a tree for our lunch.
The water is lovely and warm, making it perfect for snorkeling on the bay’s fringing reef. If you don’t have snorkeling equipment, it can be hired from the Horseshoe Bay Resort.
It’s quite a safe beach as surf, currents, and rips are rare. Horseshoe Bay Beach is patrolled by the Queensland Surf Life Savers during the school holidays and on weekends in stinger season (between November and May.).
Unfortunately, the car park is relatively small, and it can be hard to get parked at peak times.
Bowen Beaches & Fishing
We only stopped in Bowen on our way from Airlie Beach to Townsville. Therefore, we didn’t have time to check out any other beaches.
If you are here for longer and looking for what to do in Bowen, some other beaches are:
Kings Beach (great views of Gloucester Island)
Coral Bay (clothing optional)
The sea temperature ranges from a warm 29°C in summer to a mild 22°C in winter. We noticed how warm it was even compared to Airlie Beach.
Good places to fish are from the Bowen Jetty, at the rocky southern end of Kings Beach, and the rocky outcrops at Horseshoe, Grays, and Rose Bays.
Check the Bowen tide times before fishing.
Visit Bird’s Fish Bar
If you want some fresh, tasty seafood, then head to Bird’s Fish Bar. It is part of the family-owned Bowen Fishermans Seafood and offers local fresh seafood unloaded from their boats daily.
The outdoor undercover seating area overlooks the beautiful Bowen Marina.
BYO a beer or wine, sit back and enjoy the delicious food and view.
While there isn’t any free camping in Bowen, there’s a choice of Bowen Holiday Park, Big 4 Bowen Coral Coast, Bowen Palms Caravan Park, Harbour Lights Caravan Park, Rose Bay Caravan Park, Tropical Beach Caravan Park, and Wangaratta Caravan Park.
I use different sites to try and get the best possible price for flights.
First I visit matrix.itasoftware.com to get an idea of the cheapest dates, but you can’t book through this site.
Next I compare the cost of flights with Trip.com and try different routes.
I mainly use Booking.com for accommodation as they consistently have the lowest rates with free cancellation on most properties.
To compare rental car company prices, I use Rentalcars.com. They are the world’s biggest car rental site, comparing all main brands including Europcar, Budget, Ace, Hertz, Avis, and Alamo.
Don’t travel anywhere without travel insurance, it’s not worth the risk.
Travel insurance: simple & flexible
You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from over 130 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
Travel Information & Guides
This Australia Travel Guide, which includes all essential information and tips, will help with the planning of your holiday to this beautiful country.
For more things to do in Queensland, check out this Queensland Travel Guide.
What is the population of Bowen?
The population of Bowen (State Suburbs) was 10,377 people, according to the 2016 Australian Census.
Are there crocodiles in Bowen?
Yes, Bowen is part of croc country, so crocodiles are present. The Queensland Government has an information sheet on being Crocwise.
Are there stingers in Bowen?
Yes, there are stingers in Bowen. Marine stingers can be present year-round but are more common from November to May. During this time, it is advised to wear stinger suits when entering the ocean.
Stinger nets protect from the deadly Box Jellyfish, but not the venomous Irukandji jellyfish.
How far is Airlie Beach from Bowen?
Airlie Beach is 78.5 km from Bowen, along Bruce Highway/A1. It will take approximately one hour by car.
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