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Walking to Bowen's Lighthouse

A few times a year, during the winter months, Bowen’s daytime tides are low enough for visitors to walk to North Head Island and Queensland’s third oldest lighthouse. This unique experience takes walkers on a beautiful journey that not only celebrates the history of Bowen, but also the wonderful array of sea life that inhabits the shores of the bay. We asked one of our visitors to describe their first Walk to the Lighthouse.


The day of the Walk to the Lighthouse dawns bright, balmy and shimmering blue as only the waters in the Whitsundays can. We are excited for this afternoon, but make the most of our short stay in Bowen to explore the beautiful beaches and enjoy lunch at the spectacular Grand View Hotel. The balmy winter weather is perfect for enjoying the outdoor dining area and gazing into the bay. The wind has dropped completely by lunchtime and the glassy water reflects the islands dotted across the water.

About an hour before low tide we gather on the foreshore of Dalrymple Point, surrounded by rocky outcrops of granite. These outcrops are a regular sighting along Cape Edgecumbe and provide the perfect framing to Bowen’s famous beach, Horseshoe Bay. As the tide runs out a sand spit begins to appear between the mainland and island, marking our pathway through the ocean. There is a true sense of anticipation as the first couple of locals begin to wade into the shallow water and guide the visitors across. We hold back a little, watching the line of walkers begin to snake out across the water, and then we make a start!

We are wading through ankle deep water for the first one hundred metres before a slow increase takes us onto a sandbar and reveals the pathway ahead, and, surprisingly, dotted as far as we can see with large red starfish. There are gasps of delight around us as other visitors also experience this sight for the first time. As we walk around the starfish we find a heart urchin emerging from the sand and using his spines to move through the shallow water. All around us are sea cucumbers of different shapes colours and sizes. A call out from another walker reveals a green sea turtle popping up for a breath beyond the sand spit.

It takes about twenty minutes to reach the start of North Head Island where an enormous oyster patch is reveal by the low tide. Some walkers are taking the opportunity to taste these local delicacies, but we continue making our way towards the Lighthouse.

As we climb the stairs to the peak of North Head Island we look up towards the recently renovated Lighthouse with it’s bright red cupola and white-washed walls. Its not a big structure, but certainly high enough to be seen from a great distance.

Once we arrive at the foot of the Lighthouse we are treated to one of the most amazing views in the country. Across the turquoise waters Gloucester Island juts magnificently into the sky, its towering peaks emerging from tall hoop pines. The calm waters below us reveal more sea turtles and in the distance we can see the Saturday sailing yachts on their weekly race meet. We sit and absorb the glorious views for a few more moments before making the return trip to the mainland.

We arrive back on the mainland to a festive gathering, music is playing and there are chairs and picnic blankets scattered across the grass. There are many groups of friends chatting and watching the remaining walkers make their way back. In the distance is the Whitsunday Paradise Explorer boat ferrying passengers unable to make the full journey by foot.

There are grazing platters available to buy from Meraki Whitsundays – little boxes filled with cheeses, nuts, crackers, hams and dip, the perfect accompaniment to a glass of white wine and the background acoustic tunes. We stretch out on the grass and watch the sun lowering towards the hinterland. As the sky turns pink and red, we notice a murmur through the crowd and faces turning. We look around just as Gloucester Island begins glowing an amazing pink and over the next several minutes turns purple as the setting sun in the west reflects along the towering peaks.

If you would like to learn more about future Walk to the Lighthouse events you can subscribe to our mailing list below. Planning is underway for the 2019 Walk and dates will be released very soon.

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