Q: Where can you stay to experience tropical islands, historic gold towns, old lighthouses, mighty rivers, dazzling street art and mouth watering seafood all within three hours? A: Bowen, the heart of the Whitsundays! And Queens Beach Tourist Village (QBTV), officially the Best Grey Nomad Large Caravan Park in Australia, is the perfect place to base yourself. From there you can easily experience the myriad of delights of the Whitsunday, Burdekin and Charters Towers regions before returning to luxurious surrounds at each day's end. Here's six day trips from Bowen, in no particular order, for a week of magic and magnificence. 1. Proserpine and surrounds Leave the CP early and head 30 minutes down the highway to kickstart your day with a hit of delicious caffeine and breakfast at Whitsunday Gold Coffee (pictured below). Dog friendly, RV parking, heaps of tables, an on-site aviary and even an animal nursery for the 'big kid' in us all.
Then hop over to the Historical Museum where the district's development will be sure to keep you entertained for ages. Only 20 minutes west is Peter Faust Dam (below), a picturesque barra stocked reservoir (fishing permit required) with picnic facilities and amenities. Have lunch while you're catching dinner!
Fire up one of the numerous QBTV BBQs in a garden setting to enjoy the results of your day's labour. 2. Whitsunday Islands There's 74 idyllic tropical islands in the Whitsundays and a day tour from Shute Harbour, only 90 kilometres from Bowen, is an awesome way to experience them.
Visit Whitehaven Beach - the whitest sand in the world, plus Hill Inlet Lookout before dipping into the water with snorkel gear to experience the Great Barrier Reef up close. With meals provided on all-day trips, you'll probably be happy with a simple dinner watching the stars that night. 3. Ayr and Home Hill Most people know the twin towns of Ayr and Home Hill because both are surrounded by sugar cane and the mighty Burdekin River winds its way between them. However, they harbour a secret - as a street art hub with murals by some of Australia's best artists. Lookout for names like Cam Scale (a silo art specialist), Sofles, Bidju and Jon Electros Avocado (pictured below).
And check out the giant serpeant in Plantation Park before leaving Ayr. At 60m long, it's head alone is the size of a surfboard! The Gubulla Munda (carpet snake) is the protective spirit for the Biri Gubba people of northern Queensland. Sculpted by artist Dr Farvardin Daliri OAM, many local Aboriginal people came together to paint it.
All that art hunting must have left you famished, so simply walk next door to the Queens Beach Tavern for a delish dinner. 4. Ravenswood It'll take you about two and a half hours to get Ravenswood. When you arrive you'll feel like you've passed through a time tunnel - its main street and surrounding old mine sites have remained untouched for 140 years and the buildings are in strikingly good condition, such as the old Courthouse below.
Part of the Charters Towers region, the entire town is covered by an Australian Heritage Council order. At its height in the 1890s the town had 42 pubs! Amazingly, two remain and do yourself a favour - do lunch at one and have a beer at the other!
We know you'll be fascinated by Ravenswood and will probably want to spend as much time as possible exploring, so our tip: Prepare a light dinner for your post-sunset return. 5. Townsville Yep, beautifully quiet and picturesque Bowen is on the footstep of Queensland's fourth largest city. So much to do!
Options include jumping a ferry to Magnetic Island, driving up Castle Hill to enjoy the view, hiring a bike to discover the numerous botanic gardens, exploring the trendy CBD, walking the historic Stand (above), or visiting Reef HQ Barrier Reef Aquarium. Yep, so many options. Back at Bowen its feet up time with a takeaway from one of the town's 30+ eateries. Our pick - fish and chips from down at the harbour. 6. Bowen River Hotel via Collinsville An easy day today! Only 85 kilometres past orchards to the foothills of the Clarke Range where you'll find the town of Collinsville, a modern mining town with deep historical roots. After morning tea delve into the rich history of mining - an industry that has been vital for so many regional communities, at the Coalface Experience - and learn about Australia's last working pit ponies. There is also a memorial of these loyal animals, which worked the mines at Collinsville until 1990.
Nip up to Town Reservoir Hill for stunning views then onto a gravel road for a short trip to the Bowen River Hotel (below) for a country lunch. This 1860s pub, originally known as the Strathmore Hotel, was donated to the National Trust of Queensland in 1974 but lay abandoned until 2003, when it was rebuilt to its former glory. Positioned on the banks of the Bowen River, its a beautiful example of bush carpentry. While checking out the joinery, keep an eye out for visitors from by-gone eras. The bar staff will tell you that some have loved the hotel so much that they've refused to leave - ever!
Not every pub is haunted. Proof can be found on your return to Bowen at the Grand View. On the harbour side of town, this hotel featured in Baz Lurmann's 'Australia' movie and serves beaut meals. See? A week of easy day trips that'll ensure you experience all the Queensland northern highlights. Bowen - perfectly placed in paradise.