Bowen, Thursday 30 May to Sunday 2 June 2019

Our destination on Thursday was the Whitsunday Paradise Estate where John and Joy live–approximately 10 km south of Bowen. We met John and Joy on our cruise to Hong Kong, where John was an important part of our ukulele group. We also celebrated John’s 72nd birthday on the cruise.

We had arranged to park Matilda on a strip of grass opposite their house. It was an almost perfect spot for a campsite—high and quiet. John and Joy were out having lunch with Joy’s mother when we arrived, so we set up Matilda and had our own lunch. Whitsunday Paradise is a newly established community estate with lovely houses, many of them overlooking the serene waters of Port Denison, which is one of the bays in a larger coastal recess called Edgecumbe Bay. John and Joy’s house is 2-storey high, with an uninterrupted view from their deck of Bowen to the north across Port Denison.

John & Joy’s house with Matilda camped opposite
Coastal scene

They welcomed us to their house when they came home. We chatted and played ukulele on their veranda. As their house is full of artistic and crafty creations by both John and Joy, we thought it best for Dexter to stay on our bed inside Matilda. We took Dexter out from time to time to stretch his legs and to relieve himself. Joy cooked banana pancakes with rosella jam for lunch. These were yummy, and Katie wrote down the pancake recipe so she can surprise Ian one day. Both Ian and John had a good chat and a ukulele playing session.

For dinner John drove us to The Cove on the waterfront on Horseshoe Bay Road. This restaurant serves a variety of Chinese and Thai cuisines. We all enjoyed a delicious banquet including red duck curry, washed down with a nice Marlborough sauvignon blanc. John and Ian had a good chat after dinner on the veranda over a couple of The Ardmore smoky scotches.

The Cove Chines and Thai restaurant

We both had a good night sleep with a cool breeze flowing through Matilda. After breakfast on Friday, John and Joy took us in their 200 Series Landcruiser  with Dexter in the back for a tour of Bowen. Bowen has industry–mining, fishing, salt production and agriculture. Bowen is also famous for being the birthplace of the Kensington Pride Mango. Bowen’s fresh produce includes capsicums, eggplants, zucchinis, chillies, pumpkins, and tomatoes. The Big Mango was erected in 2002 to commemorate the connection the area has with the fruit.

The Big Mango at Bowen

Bowen is regarded as being at the northern end of the Whitsunday Coast. John drove us around Bowen along the coastline, showing us some very impressive walking trails and lookouts. At one point, Dexter managed to go for a dip at a beach in Queens Bay. We then headed to Horseshoe Bay and climbed up to a Rotary lookout with a panoramic coastal view. We all managed to climb the Grade 4 trail up to the steel viewing platform.

Mother Beddock

We were amazed with Joy’s stamina and efforts in climbing up to the viewing platform, as she was recovering from recent abdominal surgery.

Joy and John climbing up to the lookout
Descending from the lookout

After our scenic climb, John shouted us morning tea with sweet potato chips at a cafe conveniently located at the start of the trail. We then drove up to Flagstaff Hill, another lookout with a 360 degrees view of the Bowen region.

John next took us to Arabon Seafoods at Bowen Boat Harbour which is famous for its seafood. It has the most modern seafood unloading and commercial marina facility in Queensland. It sells live trout, prawns, bugs, crabs, and all reef and estuary fish. John bought some cooked banana prawns and Red Emperor fillets for barbecuing for tonight’s dinner. We then went to a chemist for chemicals to alleviate Katie’s mosquito and sand fly “bites”. Our next stop was IGA to shop for ingredients for tomorrow’s spring roll making session.

John at Arabon Seafoods

Back at Whitsunday Paradise, Ian and John tried to repair Matilda’s awning without success. The only solution at this moment was to tape up the awning to its cradle. In late afternoon Joy’s sister Faye and husband Ron came over for a drink. We entertained all by playing the video of our ukulele performance from our Hong Kong cruise. We enjoyed the cooked prawns and barbecued Red Emperor fillets for dinner with a bottle of Cassegrain 2019 Semillon. We had a relatively early night after another big day.

On Saturday morning, Ian took Dexter for a morning walk. Katie worked with Joy to show her how to make spring rolls from the ingredients they bought yesterday. With the half Queensland Blue pumpkin we brought from home, Joy made pumpkin soup for lunch.

Joy making spring rolls

John and Ian played their ukes with YouTube videos performed by Cynthia Lin. They really got off on Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, which we played on our cruise. We had spring rolls and stir fried Red Emperor with vegies and rice for dinner. We all watched the classic movie, The Guns of Navarone, on TV. Today Ian went “alcohol free”, a rare day indeed! Ian also had had an annoying headache for a few days.

Playing Brown Eyed Girl with Cynthia Lin on You

At night, John showed us his telescope, and Ian now wants one. We also admired John and Joy’s creativities in wood turning and pottery.

Examples of John’s woodturning

On Sunday morning, Joy’s pumpkin “scones” became a pumpkin slice, but it was delicious just the same. With our morning tea of pumpkin slice, we visited John’s brother, Peter, and sister-in-law, Karen, at a nearby farm producing chillies, capsicums, eggplants and tomatoes. We also met their dogs Ruby and Princess. Peter gave us some chillies and capsicums from his farm.

Ian, Joy and Karen at Peter and Karen’s farm

We got away from Bowen a little after 11am. John gave us some citrus fruit and a lovely eggplant from his own productive back yard.

What a great stroke of luck to meet John and Joy on our cruise. They made us very welcome during our trip up the Queensland Coast, and have become good friends.