Bowen Catchments & Offshore

BowenLocation“We value local knowledge of land and soils, waterways, the coast, sea and reef. This needs to be integrated into management decisions to guide natural asset protection for long-term development and high industry productivity.”


Bowen sits on a peninsula, with ocean to the north, east, and south. On the western side, where the peninsula connects with the mainland, the Don River’s alluvial plain provides fertile soil that supports a prosperous farming industry. The Don River drains a flatter inland area immediately south of Bowen township and west of the Bowen River.

The Bowen and Broken rivers are tributaries of the Burdekin River. They start about 50km from the coast and combine to flow north-west for 100km to join the Burdekin River below the Burdekin Falls Dam. The Broken River is the shorter tributary flowing from Mt Bruce through a valley to Eungella Dam before joining the Bowen River.

Picturesque creek scenery, lush rainforest remnants and grassy open eucalypt forest are features of inland national parks and state forest areas at Eungella, Mt Aberdeen, Sonoma and Crediton. Around Eungella, there are mist-shrouded mountains, and the forested national park hosts 860 plant species and a wide variety of wildlife. Cape Upstart National Park is an imposing granite headland covered in a range of vegetation types from vine thicket to heath, and flanked by sandy beaches. Significant areas of beach scrub and coastal dunes are protected in the park, and adjacent marine areas are included within the GBR Marine Park. There are important turtle breeding sites on the sub-region’s beaches, and the coral reefs around Bowen feature several shipwrecks. The coastal waters include seagrass-dominated, shallow marine environments of the GBR Lagoon, and Edgecumbe Bay is a declared Fish Habitat Area and Dugong Protection Area.

Community and enterprise

Bowen township has a population of around 9,500. The area has a diversified and prosperous economy based on agriculture, fishing, tourism, and mining. Its climate and fertile alluvial soils support a thriving horticulture industry, comprising small crops such as tomatoes, rockmelons and capsicums. Inland, away from the alluvial plain, cattle grazing is the dominant land use. The offshore seagrass meadows support the local commercial fishing industry.

Collinsville is an older mining town of around 1,500 people in the coal-rich Bowen Basin. It is connected by rail to the Abbott Point coal terminal which lies 25km north of Bowen. Mineral resources and mining are the largest economic contributors to the sub-region. Coal is mined inland of Bowen from Newlands, Collinsville and Sonoma mines in the Bowen geological basin, and exported mainly to China and India. Expansions of the established rail network have been proposed to service potential Galilee geological basin coal mines in the Belyando-Suttor sub-region.

The sub-region has potential to expand mining and agricultural development, however any decision would need to carefully consider implications for natural resources, including water availability, land capacity, and the need to protect adjacent coastal wetland, marine and reef environments. There is potential in the Collinsville area to develop renewable energy projects, including a hybrid solar thermal power station at the site of the Collinsville Power Station.

Bowen Catchments & Offshore Community Priorities

Industry growth and diversification

“Our community desires increased co-investment between locals, government and (limited) foreign interests in our tourism, fishing, horticulture, grazing, aquaculture, mining transport infrastructure, renewable energy and solar industries. Mining is a strong economic resource for our region but we also have the opportunity to build the resilience of our agricultural industry by diversifying products and markets, and developing value-adding businesses. We will work with government to reduce red tape and improve export prospects. “

Water quality for reef health

“Our community would like to showcase our stewardship of the GBR by effectively managing water supply and quality to adapt to climate variability. Reliable water provision can be an issue in our region and some of our community supports the development of the Urannah Dam and Elliot Channel, which would assist broad acre and urban expansion. Greater collaboration for local decision making and targeting of expenditure will help to deliver social, economic and environmental benefits.”

Soils for productivity

“Our land and soils are interdependent and their health is critical for viable horticultural and livestock operations. We will undertake integrated land management practices to increase soil productivity and minimise sediment loads in local waterways, which can impact on fishing and tourism activities. “

Passionate people caring for our landscapes

“Our community greatly values the wetlands, beaches, rivers, dunes and woodlands that make up our region. One of our greatest resources is a community that is passionate about caring for these landscapes. Our diverse marine and terrestrial habitats support a variety of industries. We are a small community, and to sustain these environments and industries into the future we need appropriate long-term career pathways and methods to retain NRM professionals with local knowledge. We believe technology can increase community awareness, and may encourage greater local actions to support sustainability.”

NQ Dry Tropics