Bowen - Top of the Whitsundays
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Explore Bowen & the Whitsundays here...

Bowen is located along a pristine coastline surrounded by fringing reef, sea beds filled with wildlife and within easy access to the Great Barrier Reef. Both visitors and locals to the town have the opportunity to interact with the reef environment through many self-guided activities including fishing, snorkelling and walking the sand spits on low tide.

A shared objective from the Bowen Burdekin Local Marine Advisory Committee & Bowen Tourism & Business saw the two organisations come together in 2019 to launch The "Leave No Footprints" Reef Interaction Education Program. The project aimed to engage with visitors and locals prior to their interaction with the reef, inform the public on possible threats to our reef and marine life through human interaction, and the long term changes we can make personally to ensure the safety of our reef into the future.

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How we made it happen

The program focused on engagement through:

Working with students from local Reef Guardian Schools - Yr 9 Science students at Bowen State Highschool worked with their teachers and the marine biology team from Daydream Island to complete marine environment assessment and collate information on our shoreline dwellers at Dalrymple Point. Their work formed the basis for the information used in interpretive signage, brochures and this website!

Permanent signage at Dalrymple Point– a key reef interaction point. This is the site for the 'Walk to the Lighthouse' and a great place to explore the coastline at lowtide.

Development of an educational brochure sharing information on local coastline wildlife and the traditional stories of the Birri Gubba traditional owners.

A Volunteer Community Guide Program at the 2019 Walk to the Lighthouse Event - a dedicated team of local volunteers used skills learned during a training workshop delivered by local marine biologist to engage with over 3000 attendees at the 2019 Walk! Their involvement was a crucial element in changing behaviours through education and inspiring engagement.

Digital Marketing Program - sharing the learnings and activities from the project to a wider audience (including you!) through digital interaction.

Who we worked with

The program and activities would not be possible without some pretty amazing contributors! The project was led by the team at Bowen Tourism & Business, with assistance from project champions, The Bowen Burdekin Local Marine Advisory Committee. Along the way we worked with the local highschool, James Cook University, Daydream Island's Marine Biology team, The Bowen SES, Traditional Owner representatives, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and many amazing community volunteers! 

The "Leave No Footprints" Bowen's Reef Interaction Education Program is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government's Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Why we did it

We strongly believe that we have a responsibility to care for our environment - we rely on our natural habitat for our livelihoods, lifestyle and future. We believe that as a tourism organisation and visitor information service we have a responsibility to actively educate our community and visitors on responsible interactions & behaviours. And we believe that inciting change through engaging our community is the pathway to realisation of a shared vision of a sustainability.

Ultimately, the program will seek to change current behaviours surrounding reef interactions and encourage a new generation with a focus for long term reef protection.

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