Thursday, February 13, 2014

and so to Bowen

With winds forecast at NE 10-15kts we pulled the anchor and departed at 0900 for Bowen. A Bowen local we met at Cid Harbour told us we could pick up a mooring in "the pond" which we were keen to do as AK was going to be in Mackay for a week.
Manatee (the only red yacht) in "the pond"
 The pond is a proposed site for a marina development and is shallow and fast flowing at flood and ebb tides which can make it difficult to pick up a mooring. The harbour and yacht club marina is very tight and a tad smelly! The yacht club has a fabulous restaurant which accurately advertises "freakingly good food". Ever concerned about our girls who love to paddle in the shallows a local informed us that no crocs lived in the area, so all was safe. Maybe the croc that lurched out of the water and grabbed a seabird was a visitor!

We visited Flagstaff Hill which offers a 360 degree view of the area and an indigenous hospitality training cafĂ© offered coffee, cake and dog bowls!

looking back to Gloucester Island from Flagstaff Hill
The town makes the most of the fact that it was used to portray Darwin in Baz Luhrmann's epic Australia. It appeared that Nicole or Hugh ate at every restaurant or visited every shop.
Bowen is a great little town, we walked and walked, admiring the murals that cover shop walls which depict Bowen's history. To our surprise, buses stopped running around 1600hrs (gotta love country towns) so our supermarket shopping resulted in a very long walk back to Manatee.

These people appear on the mural on the supermarket car park wall.
This mural is painted in recognition of the contribution that the South Sea Island community has made to the Shire of Bowen. Jimmy Womald was a young boy when he was taken from his island MOTLEP in the Banks Group. Jim related how he thought he was put ashore at Bundaberg to work on the sugar cane field. He traveled to Mackay and then on to Bowen, where he married Lizzie from the island of FAUNALEP. They had seven children. Tomas Yasso, was bought from the island of TANNA in the New Hebrides, now Vanuatu, in the late 1800's. His younger brother, Neplio, also worked on the sugar cane fields. Tomas was brought down to the Proserpine area with his young wife Topsy Taiter. When the Government offered to return them home or stay in Australia they chose to remain and moved to Bowen.
Bowen was also the maintenance base for the Catalinas during 1942 to 1945. 
The Catalina PBY-5  is shown in this mural.
AK returned from a week in Mackay (and luckily picked up the van which we continue to leapfrog up the coast) only to drive Marg to the local hospital where she stayed for a few days getting treatment for pneumonia.