Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands sailing experience, but there aren’t many other towns around. However, as we still had a couple of days before our flight down to Melbourne at the weekend, we decided to hire a car and head off to Bowen, about a 45 minute drive up the coast, along the Bruce Highway…what else!!

Bowen is well known for it’s beautiful, pristine beaches….which are indeed very pretty….though as we had pouring rain all day, the photographs don’t really do them justice. The town was placed firmly on the international map following the filming there of Baz Luhrmann’s film “Australia”, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

The rich farmlands in this area produce a massive harvest of tomatoes, melons, salad vegetables and the famous Bowen mangoes, but the roads are lined for mile after mile with sugarcane on the drive into the town.

We drove up to Flagstaff Hill, for views across Dalrymple Point to the lighthouse, and then took in the delights of Rose Bay and the beautiful Horseshoe Bay, where only metres offshore there is a spectacular coral reef. We found many small pieces of broken coral washed up along the shoreline.

Before we arrived in Bowen, we intended staying two nights….but as there was little to do there…and worse still, the residents had just been informed not to drink the water due to unusually high levels of E.coli, plus the electricity was shut off when we woke up and would be off most of the day …. we high-tailed it back to Airlie Beach for our final night in the Whitsunday region.  We fly down to Melbourne this weekend….so will have to see how the internet connection works out when we arrive.