Beaches, Bush Tracks and the Best Mango Sorbets
The car is packed, and the kids are buckled in. We’re off to explore Bowen, the hidden gem at the top of the Whitsundays. Bowen has something for every kid, big and small, to explore!
Located 60 kilometres north of the tourist mecca Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Coast Airport, Bowen is also known as the ‘Heart of Secluded Beaches’ and is home to the famous Big Mango.
With the kids happy to be free of the classroom, we’re on the search for a holiday that offers plenty of outdoor exploring, some great food and a history lesson or two.
Our first stop as we head into Bowen is the Big Mango. When we know we’re getting close the car is a buzz of excitement and there’s a serious competition to see who can spot this famous big thing first! The Big Mango can be found five kilometres south of Bowen, right on the Bruce Highway. The 10-metre-high icon is certainly impressive and makes for a great family photo. The kids are intrigued by the giant green ant on the side of the Big Mango, so we make our way into the Big Mango Visitor Information Centre to find out more.
Inside the Visitor Information Centre are a team of friendly staff and volunteers with all the information we need about Bowen. We’re able to organise accommodation and locate the best beaches, walking trails, restaurants and local historical sites. There’s a great range of gifts and mango-inspired merchandise for sale. We also buy some of the local mango sorbet, after seeing the Big Mango we were all craving the taste.
Recently the Big Mango Visitor Centre has been smashing visitor records by celebrating their biggest day (28 June 2023), biggest month and biggest year on record. Another very important record was also recently broken – Delicious Mango Sorbets! More than 23,0000 visitors have tasted these delightful treats in the past financial year.
Once we have checked in our the next stop is the beach. Bowen has eight beautiful beaches to choose from, many of which have fringing coral reefs to explore. At Horseshoe Bay we find rocks to climb and a café for lunch. The kids are itching to get into the water, so we pick up some snorkelling gear from the Horseshoe Bay Resort and dive in. The reef is an easy swim from the beach and we can see plenty of corals, fish and an underwater sculpture called Bywa. As we’re leaving for the afternoon, the kids spot a walking trail to explore the next day.
We’re all awake early the next morning and head back to Horseshoe Bay to explore the Cape Edgecumbe walking trail. The first stop along the trail is the Horseshoe Bay lookout. Built on a rock overlooking the bay, the lookout provides the perfect photo opportunity with sweeping views to the beach and into the Coral Sea. A little further along is the World War II radar site and more spectacular views. We then head along the trail past Murrays Bay and up to the Mother Beddock lookout. From here we can see Rose Bay and Kings Beach.
Water Park & Jetty
After our walk we’re all looking to cool down, so we head to Bowen’s Front Beach and enjoy a dip and a slide at the waterpark. As the kids are splashing about, we spot Bowen’s historic Jetty stretching out from the beach. We head out along the jetty to explore and learn that the structure is more than 150 years old. At 750 metres in length, the jetty is an easy stroll and we spot some turtles popping their heads out of the water. At the end of the jetty are some locals fishing so we stop for a chat and to inspect their catch.
For lunch we drive up to the café on Flagstaff Hill. With 360-degree views across the ocean and the hinterland, we can point out the farming regions outside of Bowen and even see some of the Whitsunday Islands. Closer to the hill is the Bowen Lighthouse on North Head Island. During winter it is possible to walk along a sand spit at low tide and visit the lighthouse. You can also spot whales from up here!
Next up is a drive around the Bowen township to see the murals. We follow the mural trail in the Bowen Visitor Guide and learn about the history and culture of the town, including the South Sea Islander and indigenous groups. We also pop in to see the Bowen Summer Garden Cinemas, Queensland’s oldest cinema, and pick a movie to watch later in our holiday.
It’s been a busy day and with so much more to explore the kids are having a ball in Bowen. For a fun end to the day we pick up some fish and chips and head to Greys Bay to watch the sun set over the water, there aren’t too many places on the East Coast to see this!
For more information on beautiful Bowen click here