Bowen, a seaside town that flanks that Whitsundays from the north, is renowned for spectacular scenery, fresh seafood, Australia - the movie, and Bowen mangoes.
I stayed in Bowen for the first time about six weeks ago and found a town of 10,000 people who offer a welcoming smile every time you walk down the street. Maybe I'd smile lots too if I lived in this paradise. After all, there are many things to smile about and many things to see.
The Number 1 must see: The Big Mango, which you can't miss if travelling into town from the south as it dominates the space outside the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) on the Bruce Highway. There's also The Big Mango's little, but still big, cousin at the other VIC on the foreshore in town.
Number 2: The water tank mural. It's big - way bigger than The Big Mango. It sits perched atop the hill that splits the town in two. Half the population look south-east towards the Whitsundays and the other half populate the cluster of idyllic beaches that fringe the destination to the north.
Bowen is north Queensland's oldest town and pride in the destination's history translated a few years ago to 19 murals that depict events and life over the past 150 years. It's why locals proudly exclaim that Bowen is the mural capital of Australia.
Number 3: My favourite of the historic murals is the Federation of Port, which shows the evolution of this trading hub from the days of sailing ships through the steam ship days and the industrial port that serviced north Queensland to today, where tourism plays just as important role in the town's economy. You'll find this large mural on Williams Street, smack bang in the middle of town.
Number 4: Pioneer Women is a triptych honouring the pivotal role that women played in the town's development. My pick of the three scenes is the one below - the detail showing the inside of Edwardian homes is magnificent. You don't have to walk far from the Federation of Port to this mural as it also is on Williams Street.
Number 5: In the 1800s many small farmers did not have access to, or the money to buy, large draft animals. Their solution was to use goats to haul up to 500 pounds (about 225 kg). The Goat Cart on Powell Street shows one of these.
Number 6 and 7: Vibrant murals commissioned by businesses to attract customers also breath life into the area in which they can be found, and Bowen has numerous. Two close together - one beautifying a wall on a floral and photography shop and a second on a takeaway shop - really catch you eye on wide Gregory Street. There's plenty of other murals on businesses to check out too.
Number 8: Flagstaff Hill. OK, so strictly speaking the thing you'll see here is not "on the street". Rather, it's the magnificent view from atop Flagstaff Hill where you can also enjoy 360 on Flagstaff - a cafe that has to have one of THE BEST locations anywhere in Australia. 360 degree views!
So readers, which are your favourites - the historic murals or the contemporary ones that adorn Bowen businesses?
BOWEN, North Queensland
1,140 north of Brisbane via the Bruce Highway
Closest airport - Proserpine
Closest rail station - Bowen on the Spirit of Queensland (must register your desire to disembark in Bowen when purchasing ticket)