21-22 May: Bowen – Top of the Whitsundays

Author: Mr A

Location: Bowen, Queensland

Leaving Airlie Beach we once again headed north up the Bruce Highway to our next destination, the small harbour town of Bowen. This was somewhere neither of us had been before and had no preconceptions of whatsoever.

The caravan park we had chosen was down in the harbour area, which we were soon exploring by bike. It had a nice feel to the place, not too touristy and still a working town.Wandering down the nearest little road we came out on this view. Almost every direction from Bowen there is an island view across crystal clear waters.

We jumped off the tarmac and enjoyed a short ride though the bush, until Catherine felt her tyre go flat! She’d picked up a bunch of thorns, so it was off to the local bike shop, which doubled as a purveyor of power tools! The dedicated bike shop that was here has now closed down, sadly an all too familiar story around Australia.We had some stuff to collect from the local Post Office, and as usual it had arrived safe and sound. Using this system of sending our various care packages to a Post Office on route has been brilliant. They will hold it for up to a month free of charge, as long as Australia Post is the courier and not a third party.

We had a wander around the tidy town centre, noted a scruffy looking Indian and Chinese, read that the local pub was doing a ‘$20 seafood buffet’ (raised our eyebrows) and picked up a few things from the local IGA (produce that looked and later tasted like it had last seen a field in its dim and distant past) and went back to camp.Then I read the local tourist guide to Bowen that we had picked up at the information centre. Let me quote verbatim from the page describing Bowen’s Top 10 food experiences.

‘Bowen serves up a feast of quality gourmet produce…offering exquisite international cuisine” (the Chinese and Indian apparently). “With a plethora of local produce’.

These brochures do nothing but seed expectations that are never delivered on when confronted with the reality of eating out and trying to buy fresh produce in rural Australia, with the odd exception that we always find so refreshing, because it is so unusual.

There is so much that is stunning, breathtakingly beautiful, and fascinating about our country, these tourism brochures only serve to mislead and therefore disappoint when they paint a picture that is so misleading about what its going to be like eating out and trying to buy fresh produce. Especially to international tourists who might actually believe what they read before they come face to face with the grim reality of pie after pie.

So, we had some fabulous fish and chips. When the local motor lodge is described as an “enticing restaurant” you know dining in is really the best option.Bowen’s riches predominantly lie in its spectacular scenery and views, which we enjoyed on a 5km hike along the Cape Edgecumbe Walking Track.

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