Sunday, 15 February 2015

Bowen: Train goes where Mangoes

Bowen is 1,149 km north of Brisbane by train on Queensland's North Coast Line. When travelling to and from Cairns for one last time aboard The Sunlander in 2014, the train made a late afternoon stop on its trip south at this town famous for its mangoes. And although Bowen Railway Station is situated a few miles out of town, there was just enough time to step off the train and take some photos of this little railway station on the edge of North Queensland's fruit bowl.

Bowen Railway Station is hidden away on the outskirts of town among the fields of tomatoes and capsicums, 2014.

Bowen Railway Station itself is only a modern concrete block affair. The station consists of nothing more than a platform approximately five carriages long that has been erected alongside a single stretch of track on a quiet backstreet, despite the lines to the Abbott Point coal loader and the Collinsvale-Newlands-North Goonyella GAP Line being situated just to the north of town. Even putting the significance of tourism in this area aside, the modest station building hardly seems fitting for a town of such international export importance.

Bowen Railway Station in far north Queensland with The Sunlander about to pull away into the sunset during its last year of operation, August 2014.

The town of 10,240 people lies to the east of the railway line by the sea and was chosen as the production site for the movie Australia starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. Bowen is also famous for its 10 metre high Big Mango that stands beside the Tourism Information Centre. The mango made headlines across Australia in 2014 when the 7 tonne structure was stolen right from under the nose of locals. It was found the very next day hidden on the back of a truck in nearby bushland. As for the culprit? Well, let's just say it turned out to be a publicity stunt. Maybe the mango wanted to go where the train goes. After all, the train already goes where mangoes. Ah, that's terrible!

Although The Sunlander is now gone, its replacement train the Spirit of Queensland is now in full operation hauling three round trips per week between Brisbane and Cairns. There is a lot to see from the window of the train, and Bowen is just one of the stations that the train calls at on this 1,681 km journey along Queensland's coast. The best way to appreciate the history, fun and facts on this epic Australian rail journey is to download my award-nominated book, Train Tripping Coastal Queensland. This window seat guide will turn your train trip into a real railway adventure of your own.

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