Plan of the Town of Bowen, Port Denison, District of Kennedy, by Clarendon Stuart
News of the day

Catholic Press, Thursday 27 July 1916, page 31


The old township of Bowen is pleasantly situated on Port Denison, one of the best harbours on the Australian coast. The largest steamers trading to Australia can berth at the jetty, upwards of half a mile long. Bowen is a great agricultural centre, although the district is also rich in minerals. Many fine orchards are within a few mile: of the town, and large quantities of tomatoes, oranges, mangoes, and other products are exported. A fine seam of coal has lately been tapped, from which great things are expected! There is a rumour of a smelters and refinery being erected in Bowen, and transactions in land are being rather numerous lately. The town is connected by rail with Proserpine, where there is one of the largest sugar mills in the Commonwealth; and also with Merinda (6 miles), where there are large meatworks. Bowen is becoming a popular seaside resort. Fine fishing is to be had, and residents have quite a fleet of boats in the harbour. Some of the best horses in Queensland have been bred in the district. Shipments of horses are made to India, South Africa, and Japan. Tobacco grows well here, and brings a good price in Sydney and Melbourne. The .ietty has been the scene of much activity lately. The Northumberland, a fine vessel of about 17,000 tons, berthed safely, and stowed away 700 tons of frozen beef and sundries. The Wyrcema took away 5000 cases of fruit and tomatoes on her last trip for southern markets. Farmers' products is always the big item, although large quantities of hides, tallow, skins, oil, &c.. are being despatched. Bowen possesses a fine church, presbytery, convent and school. The parish is in charge of Rev. Father O'Keefe, and the Sisters of Mercy have the school.


When the New South Wales Government offered a reward of £2000 for the discovery of a port on the North Queensland coast, Captain Henry Sinclair formed a small party and sailed from Rockhampton in the nine-ton ketch Santa Barbara. On 16 October 1859 they anchored in Port Denison, an inner harbour of Edgecumbe Bay, which they partly surveyed and sketched. Attempts to examine the location in greater detail were thwarted by the hostility of local Aboriginal people and Sinclair’s party returned to Rockhampton three days later. The separation of Queensland from New South Wales less than two months later resulted in Sinclair being unable to collect any reward, though the new Queensland Government acted on his report by sending the pastoralist-explorer George Augustus Frederick Elphinstone Dalrymple to establish a township at Port Denison and open the port as an outlet for pastoralists in the interior. Named after Governor Bowen, the township was proclaimed on 11 April 1861, with the first land sales taking place the following October. As the first permanent settlement in North Queensland, Bowen was instrumental in the spread of pastoralism into the northern districts, while its geographical location and facilities ensured its continuing prosperity.


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