Bowen - Top of the Whitsundays
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Caravanning in Bowen - The Ultimate Guide

With Covid-19 shaking up our lives and making international travel off-limits for the time being, it's no wonder more and more of us are embracing the old fashioned road trip adventure. Caravan and campervan sales are booming with the industry reporting record sales across the country. Many families are enjoying the benefit and practicality of having a comfortable home away from home hitched up behind.

Why Bowen is a great place to visit with the RV or Caravan

When you're travelling this great wide land, it can be hard to find great seaside locations that have all the facilities that you need AND allow for easy access for caravans and motorhomes. Making it even harder is that generally premium beach tourism locations = lots of dollars to stay in the area or even just to park for the day! Not to worry - we've done the research to put together a guide to make it easy to visit, stay and play at the Top of the Whitsundays. Bonus: With some great low-cost camping options close to the main centre of Bowen, plus heaps of free activities in town, it's easy to get a great experience for next to nix.

Easy to get to:

Bowen, situated half way between Mackay and Townsville, is less than 5 minutes off the major A1 Bruce Hwy - So you know you won't be detoured for miles out of your way, and that's a big deal; especially if you're pulling a van and have a destination to reach.
It's a handy spot for lunch or a cuppa – read on for our best day parks with a view! If you're heading north, you'll know you're nearly there when you spy the beautiful water of the Coral Sea to your East and a Big Mango looming to your west! If you've been exploring Tropical North QLD or done the Outback and are heading south, you'll be treated to great views of some rich farming land on your northern entry into our big country town near the beach.

Bowen VIC Kenny mascot

Easy to get around:

Let's face it, it is no fun navigating into a seaside town down tiny, crowded streets and confusing signage in search of the beach only to find there's no where to park! Adding to the frustration, if you do find a park you have to dig out the old change purse to feed a meter. Well, relax; there's no worries here!
Due to being identified as a potential major centre during pioneer settlement, the original town design allowed extra room for wagoneers to access the industrial jetty on Port Denison. These days that equates to wide streets, a dual lane main street and oodles of parking!

A great spot to park up for the day:

There's ample free day parking; and even better – they have views to die for!


1. The Catalina Hardstand: this large concrete parking area on Santa Barbara Parade was originally the base for an extensive Catalina Flying Boat Base during World War II. Defence forces ran a maintenance base for these iconic and vital aircraft in Bowen from 1942. Fast forward to more peaceful times and today this is a great spot for rigs of all size to pick a seaside posse for a day visit.
Wander down our 700m long jetty to spot a turtle or chuck in a line and catch some dinner! No luck? Walk a little further down the esplanade to one of the fresh seafood co-ops on the marina.

2. Beachside Parks: follow the signs to the 'Beaches' and you'll come to Horseshoe Bay Road – we recommend taking your time driving along here because the view can get distracting! Best to pull off into Hansen, Case or Ethel Barker Park; these three lovely shaded parks have ample parking, free bbq & picnic facilites and direct beach access.
Sunday mornings will be busy – the Lion's Beachfront Markets are held from 7am every weekend in Hansen Park; great to grab some fresh produce but can be tricky to find a park.

3. Yasso Point: Make your way to the suburb of Queens Beach (easy 10 minutes from the main street) and follow the esplanade all the way.... At the end you'll discover the tidal Don River flowing out through a scenic sandy headland into Queens Bay. There's plenty of space to park and easy access to the beach for a good long walk (after all that driving there's nothing better than to stretch the legs!) On-lead and off-lead areas for dogs can be found along the length of Queens Beach – check for signage and remember to poop & scoop if you're taking your pup for a walk. Stroll as far as Queens Beach Pub for a coldie or some lunch on the front deck. 

A great base to explore the Whitsunday region


The Whitsundays region isn't just for jetting in to Hamilton Island and floating around on charter yachts (although those are awesome too!) The region has a host of amazing experiences, and if you are towing a van or in a motorhome, Bowen is the perfect base. Even better, you can discover the Whitsundays without the big-ticket tour price – it's a natural wonderland rich in cultural history, with a heap of fantastic options right here in Bowen:

1. Snorkel the reef: With three beaches ringed by fringing coral reef, there's no need for a boat ride! Horseshoe & Rose Bay are the easiest to access or follow the walking track to Murray Bay. You can purchase or hire snorkel gear inexpensively from Horseshoe Bay Resort* or if you have your own it's a great free activity!

*subject to availability

horseshoe bay snorkel 2019 2

2. Go for a walk: From the 5km Cape Edgecumbe circuit hike to more casual beachfront paths, there's a walk for everyone. Make sure you are armed with the local guide book from the visitor centre to find your closest walk that suits and make sure you've got your camera – with so much coastline you're sure to spot the perfect picture opportunity.

3. Discover the region's history: A visit to the Catalina Memorial on Santa Barbara parade will shine some light on a little-known part of Australia's war efforts. Spend a fiver to enter the volunteer run Bowen Historical Museum and uncover a rich trove of history. From pioneer days built on mining, agricultural and export industries to tales of the sea there's a veritable treasure chest of discoveries waiting.

The perfect place to park up

You've had your day of fun in Bowen or had that much needed break and a stretch; now what? If you've fallen in love with Bowen (and we think you will!) there's a range of great caravan parks to suit all rigs and all budgets:

Beachfront site? Yes please!

tropical beach caravan park 3ps

Dreaming of setting up the van close enough to hear the ocean? Love the idea of being able to step out the door and wander down to the sand? What about a site with an uninterrupted view of the water, so close you can cast a line out from your living space? Bowen has loads of options that offer just that! There are seven (yes Seven!) parks all either right on the shoreline or less than 500M to the nearest beach, plus more options only minutes by car.

Budget friendly options:

Did you know that you can find a camp spot for as low as $15 less than 10 minutes from the centre of town? That's a pretty good deal to stay in paradise! If you fall Ask the team at the Bowen Information Centre for their tips on where to get a great site for a great price. Many parks offer very competitive weekly rates, unpowered sites and multiple night stay deals.

Like to keep to a tight budget? Luckily you won't have far to go to find some excellent free rest areas where overnight stays are permitted, so you can still enjoy our beautiful town during the day and move on to a budget friendly camp that night. 

North: Guthalungra 63.5km via Bruce Hwy; approximately 45-minute drive.
West: Collinsville Showgrounds 68km via Peter Delamothe Rd; approximately 1 hr drive. Toilet, showers, information centre on site.
South: Bloomsbury Service Station; 110km via Bruce Hwy; approximately 1hr 15-minute drive. Parking area behind service station, suitable for self-contained vehicles.

Moving on down (or up) the road?

Don't forget that when it comes to planning your next stop on your journey, the team at the Big Mango Info Centre have you covered; they have guides and knowledge on the whole of Queensland, maps, journey planners and more. 

So there you have it - the complete guide to caravanning and RV-friendly options in Bowen & the Whitsundays!


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