Holding the title of North Queensland’s oldest town, Bowen has a long, colourful history. Officially declared a town in 1861, the region’s history predates that by many years. Aboriginal people inhabited the Bowen region long before the first white settlers sailed by.
The Bowen Museum
Much of Bowen’s pioneer history has been preserved, and is on display at our museum in Gordon Street. It has been described as one of the best regional museums in the state. There are hundreds of items catalogued and displayed, along with accurate records of the town and the district.
Adjacent to the museum is a slab cottage that was originally built in 1872, and was bought to the town slab by slab, re-erected and restored. Period furniture, and implements of the settlers’ daily lives were collected to furnish the building.
The Coral Sea Display & Catalina Memorial
The Coral Sea Display is located at the Bowen Aerodrome and honours Bowen’s association with the World War II Catalina Flying Boats. Bowen was a base for the flying boats during the battle of the Coral Sea. The display has five dioramas built on 1/72 scale including the USSS Lexington, believed to be the largest model of a ship on public display.
The Catalina Memorial is located on the Foreshore and is an interpretative centre commemorating the Catalinas and honouring those Bowen residents who served Australia during historical conflicts.
The first of Bowen’s 27 Murals was painted in 1988, on the wall of the Bowen Library, located on Herbert Street. The idea behind the murals belonged to a former Bowen resident. She came up with the idea on her visit to Chemainus in Canada, where the town’s historical past was shown in wall murals.
Bowen’s diverse history- from the early settlement, through the various industries of the region, to the present time, comes to life through paintings by many well-known artists.
Most of the murals are located within the town centre and come highly recommended as a must see.
The Bowen Mango
Historically, mangoes originate from south-east Asia, in particular India and in the late 1800’s a thriving horse- trading business operated between Bowen and India. Amongst the items that Indian crews bought with them were mangoes. Mr GE Sandrock, the then Bowen harbourmaster, collected seeds and planted them on his property, along with a Mr McDonald from Adelaide Point. From these seeds the delicious, stringless Kensington Pride Mango was developed.
To date, the name Kensington Pride is still correct, but the variety is now more widely known as the Bowen Mango or Bowen Special and it is still considered the king of all mangoes.
Located at the northern end of Queens Beach, Yasso Point is at the mouth of the Don River. Here you will find panels detailing the history of the South Sea Islander families that were brought to Bowen to work the cane fields. There are also benches that provide a perfect resting point. A boat ramp at Yasso Point provides access at high tide.