Bowen had a brush with fame when parts of the $130 million movie Australia were filmed there in 2007, earning a nickname Bowenwood, which was painted on the town’s iconic water tank.
Bowen had a brush with fame when parts of the $130 million movie Australia were filmed there in 2007, earning a nickname Bowenwood, which was painted on the town’s iconic water tank. Michaela Harlow

Bowen marks 150 years

HOSTING Baz Luhrmann, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman while they filmed the $130 million movie Australia is bound to be one of the favourite memories recounted as Bowen celebrates its 150th birthday today.

The town’s community will gather at a commemorative morning tea at the Bowen Soundshell today, the anniversary of the town’s proclamation.

Whitsunday Regional Mayor Mike Brunker said today was a significant milestone for Bowen, which was the oldest town in North Queensland.

He said those who attended the celebrations would share Bowen’s birthday cake and hear about the town’s history, including some accounts of the town’s proclamation in 1861.

“Bowen is a wonderful community with a rich and varied history of which we can all be proud, so to mark the occasion with a historical account is appropriate,” Cr Brunker said.

“Bowen is a beautiful place, known for its stunning beaches.

“The people are friendly and welcoming and it enjoys a diversified economy.”

Bowen was first settled as a seaport because of its large, strategically positioned harbour, and was named after first colonial governor Sir George Ferguson Bowen.

In 2007 Bowen transformed into Bowenwood for two months while parts of the movie Australia were filmed there.

The Grandview Hotel fed and watered hundreds of cast and crew, and 600 locals were cast as extras.

Another 100 people worked as volunteer guides for tourists visiting the town, hoping to catch sight of a movie star.

Cr Brunker said Whitsunday Regional Council hoped to hold a second birthday bash – a free family day with live entertainment – at the town’s foreshore later this year.

“Everyone will be able to celebrate all the great things about Bowen.”

Today’s event, held in conjunction with the Bowen Historical Society, will be held beside Bowen’s Founding Memorial from 9am.

A BRIEF HISTORY

  • Bowen was founded on April 12, 1861 and is the oldest town in North Queensland. It was first settled as a seaport because of the large, strategically positioned harbour.
  • After first sailing into the harbour in 1859, Captain Henry Daniel Sinclair led a group of settlers by sea and George Elphinstone Dalrymple led another party overland from Rockhampton. They met at Port Denison on April 11, 1861, and founded Bowen the next day.
  • The town was named after Queensland’s first colonial governor Sir George Ferguson Bowen.
  • The Gia and Juru people are the indigenous traditional owners.
  • More than 100 people died when the Gothenburg sank off Bowen in 1875.
  • Bowen was a base for Catalina flying boats during World War II.
  • Bowen became “Bowenwood” in 2007, hosting Baz Luhrmann, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman while they filmed the movie Australia.


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