Lerderderg Gorge trip postponed until next week due to completely foreseen — but largely ignored — circumstances.
On my way back from Undara, I stayed overnight at Bowen. I hadn't done that before. Usually, I stop at Townsville, which is only two hours to the north, or Shute Harbour, which is about an hour to the south.
The approach to Bowen is not attractive. The Bruce Highway is a Frankenstein's monster of a road, sutured with threads of black bitumen. It skims the edge of town, running between the airfield and the salt works. Hedges of bougainvillea and oleander planted to pretty it up only accentuate its plainness.
So why would I stop there?
Bowen has beaches. And they are all in very good nick. Sand. Rock. Mud. This town has got everything.
I'd visited the rocky ramparts of King's Beach when I dropped in last year but was beaten by rain and an incoming tide. On this trip, the weather was fine and the tide ebbing but I lost out to time. I could only hang around for an hour or so but that was long enough to get the idea that I'd like to return and explore further.
I've already posted pictures of the mangroves just south of town. The trees are adorned with pointy Littoraria snails and the sand is sprinkled with tiny Clithon oualaniensis. There are bivalves and barnacles and miniature sea stars.
At low tide, Bowen Harbour (Port Denison) is an expanse of sand and mud, popular with waders of all types. (Although only three species were in camera range — white-faced heron, pied oystercatcher and bar-tailed godwit.)
For those who can't manage the long journey, you can see the harbour in Baz Luhrmann's new film, Australia. It's standing in for 1940s Darwin.