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Explore Bowen & the Whitsundays here...

During winter, just once or twice, the day time tides are low enough for a very special event - Bowen's Walk to the Lighthouse!

Watch this space for more details on upcoming opportunities - read on to discover more



The History...

Situated less than one kilometre from the Bowen mainland, at the entrance to Port Dension is North Head Island and home to one of Queensland's oldest lighthouses. Port Denison was the first port established in North Queensland, with Bowen officially proclaimed on the 11th of April 1861. Supporting the pastoral acitivity to the North and West, Bowen grew to become a major administrative and commercial centre in the North. Years later the town was eclipsed by Townsville, but remained an important port for the region, exporting beef, coal and salt to the South.

Built in 1866 this six sided wooden tower lighthouse protected ships entering the busy port between Middle, Stone and Gloucester Islands. The lighthouse was home to a family for a short period of time - the children enjoying a daily canoe to the mainland for school! However through most of it life the lighthouse was maintained by the port's pilot boat crew.

The North Head Lighthouse was extinguished in 1985 and the original lens shifted to the Bowen Historical Museum. When visiting Bowen be sure to drop into the museum - there is an extraordinary collection of historical memorabilia manned by a dedicated and knowledgeable group of volunteers.

In 2017 the North Head Lighthouse was restored by community groups, ensuring this important and eye-catching landmark is maintained for future generations.

The Walk...

The annual community Walk to the Lighthouse celebrates the rich history of Bowen as the oldest town in the North, the town's connection to a maritime past and the rich sea life that calls Port Dension and Edgecumbe Bay home.

Upon departing the mainland, Lighthouse walkers follow an exposed sand spit in a curving path towards the North Head Island. If you're a first-time walker beware! Your feet will get a little wet and we suggest wearing reef boots or old sneakers! We'd suggest following the first groups to leave the mainland - chances are they are local and know the way well.

As you make your way to the half-way point - keeps your eyes down and you'll get a surprise! Very quickly you'll notice many giant red starfish dotting the sandy shallows! Keep an eye out also for sea cucumbers - they get pretty big in Bowen! Feather stars will astonish you as they uncurl and crawl away. Every now and again have a glance out into the deeper water - chances are you'll spot a green sea turtle checking you out. Away to the North and Holbourne Island you might be lucky enough to spot a whale breaching too!

When you reach the North Head Island it is a short climb to the peak and the Lighthouse. You can look back towards Bowen and the hinterland framing the view - or turn your gaze South East and towards the magnificent Gloucester Island. When you return to the mainland - head up to Flagstaff Hill and watch the sun set over Bowen - you might be lucky enough to see the panes of glass in the Lighthouse catch the setting rays and cast a light back across the water in a gorgeous recollection of its past. 

To take part in the walk head to Dalrymple Point prior to the suggested walk time (confirmed prior to event dates).  Please note that a low tide of less than 0.2M is recommended to make the crossing viable. If you are intending to walk to the lighthouse and return it is advisable to leave approximately one hour prior to the low tide mark and be returning at the low tide point. Alternatively, participants may like to walk part way or explore the shallows around the point on the mainland.

Participants are reminded that the 'walk' is at your own risk, and that care and attention should be given to your fitness, suitability and tide times. Please be mindful of your surroundings at all times and show care for our natural environment. We suggest taking water, wearing sunscreen and sunglasses, and a light jacket if there is a breeze. A camera is a must, along with appropriate footwear.

The Event...

Join us for a celebration of community, history and nature, in conjunction with the annual walk. In 2019 the focus for the event was all about education, with a focus on engagement and shared experiences.  Marine & nature experts and traditional owners were on hand to share their stories and provide more information on the environment we share. 

The 2019 Walk to the Lighthouse was held on Saturday 31st August. Watch this space for future walk events. 

Subscribe to our Walk to the Lighthouse email list and we can keep in touch with all the details!


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he “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.