Our trip to Bowen was nothing short of a 'di-sa-ster dar-ling'. We left Airlie Beach as agreed on the 9pm bus as we didn't fancy spending another night in that hole. Well, it was like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. The bus journey was only an hour, and so we arrived in Bowen at 10pm, to a closed ghost town.
We walked up the street to where we expected to find backpacker accommodation galore vying for our business, but everywhere was closed or looked deserted. We began to think that coming to Bowen was a bad idea.
Fortunately for us, we bumped into a group of decent looking backpackers who were just emptying out from a closing restaurant who told us about the hostel they were staying at. We followed them and tried to find out if they had availability. We had already agreed between us that whatever they had to offer was what we had to take as there was nowhere else open! After the manager had tried to stop a drunk local teenager from getting in his car and driving his girlfriend home, and then after stopping him from starting a massive fight outside in the street, he reluctantly found us a bed for the night. He also charged us through the nose for it - about $20 more than any other backpacker hostel on the East Coast route. Had we wished to stay for 7 nights, it would have been considerably cheaper we were told.
After a short night’s sleep, we got up to try and look for somewhere cheaper to stay for the next night or two. What a waste of time. Bowen is one big monopoly of farmers hooked up with hostels who only want working backpackers staying at their accommodation. As we definitely did not want to go and work in a field picking tomatoes, capsicums or mangoes for barely the minimum wage for a minimum of three weeks, we clearly did not fit in.
By lunchtime we had had enough and were forced to pay for internet usage at the library and later the local cafe to try and book our long-distance bus out of there! Before booking the bus, we did try to look for accommodation on the other side of town and phoned a couple of places only to find that it too was out of our budget.
Not even 24 hours had passed, but we had seen enough of Bowen town centre to know that we were priced out of the backpacker accommodation market and that there really weren't any sights worth staying around to take in anyway.
With that, we bowed out of Bowen, and headed North to Townsville where we hoped things could only get better.