Mackay, Bowen, Gumlu, Isaac and Whitsunday

Not only is this region huge, but it also spans from major regional farming districts to the coastline and some of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations.

This region spans 90,354 square km’s, from St Lawrence in the South to Bowen in the north and beyond Clermont in the west.

You will love exploring the Greater Whitsunday Region.

Tour the region - find everything you need below!

Types of agriculture located in this region are:

Production Horticulture

Includes vegetables, fruit, flowers, tree nuts and viticulture (grapes).  Most horticulture is very reliant on irrigation, and fertile soils so this industry will be found in regions that offer these needs.  Although beef is the most valuable commodity in Queensland, production horticulture is the largest employer.  The workforce is made up of Australians and international workers.  Seasonal and ongoing work is available in picking and packing.  With longer-term professional careers also available.

Job search:

For more statistics and info:

  • The peak industry body is Growcom
  • Whitsunday’s local group is BGGA

Sugarcane

Sugar is grown mostly along the coastline.  In general, the further you travel up the Queensland coast, the more sugar cane you will find.

Sugar cane is mainly grown between Ingham and Cairns, with large growers located in the Mackay and Burdekin areas.  However, you can find sugarcane as far south as the northern NSW coastline.

Employment in the sugar industry is very seasonal and workers often travel between growers to extend their work periods.

Job search:

For more statistics and info:

Irrigation

Irrigation is a complex and scientific requirement critical to most other industries.  Apart from farming, other sectors include installers, contractors, farmers, local, state and federal government.

Training opportunities:  as irrigation is so important, it has it’s own nationally accredited Certificate III (AHC32419) and is now a ‘trade qualification’.  You can also complete around 11 skillsets (short courses) to make yourself even more attractive to employers.  Irrigation Australia is a registered training organisation (RTO), meaning they can conduct training to Australian standards and issue you a certificate that meets national guidelines.

Training search:

Job search:  

  • Get trained with Irrigation Australia, as they promote their graduates to industry members.
  • Look under the Employer’s Tab here at FarmReady.

Nurseries & Gardens

Sometimes call Amenity Horticulture, around 80% of this industry is located in South East Queensland with the industry reaching as far north as Cairns.

Nursery work has a few options as they can grow for the home gardener as well as seedlings for public parks, gardens and regeneration areas.  The Production Horticultural industry also relies heavily on seedlings from nurseries, and larger companies will specialise in this type of production.  These specialists are generally located in the significant Production Horticultural regions.

Gardens work involves the maintenance of council gardens, public parks and golf greens etc.  Or private companies who specialise in the creation of beautiful outdoor spaces.

Job search:

  • Look under the Employer’s Tab here at FarmReady

For more statistics and info:

Timber & Forestry

The Queensland Timber industry employs around 10,000 people across plantations and processing.  With 90% of the workforce employed in the processing sector (https://www. timberqueensland. com.au/ Growing/ Timber – Processing – Facts. aspx, 2020).   Visit Timber Queensland to find out more about this massive industry.

Training opportunities: TABMA Australia is a leading Group Training Organisation (GTO).  TABMA employs job seekers in the timber industry whilst providing training.  This training is called either an apprenticeship or traineeship, allowing you to study and work at the same time.

Job search:

For more statistics and info:

Employer Directory

Get your FarmReady Card first - Start now

Please note that the availability of work may change.  Always apply for a job, before arriving on the farm.

Rugby Farm

Located in Bowen and Ayr

  • Has multiple farm sights in North Queensland and South East Queensland
  • Employs all year round, between all sites
  • To apply online for work visit their website

Ballantyne Strawberries

Located just north of Mackay

Employs directly (does not use contractors)

  • April is leaf pruning and weeding season
  • May to September is picking season
  • To ask for work contact:  07 4958 8674

Giru Cane

Location:  Giru, Queensland

(Just south of Townsville)

Employs directly (does not use contractors)

  • Jobs:  irrigation, fluming setup, slashing, spot spraying.
  • Experience:  preferred.
  • Essential:  drivers license and own transport.
  • To ask for work email John:  girucane@bigpond.com

Harvest Trail

Is an Australian government service that connects job seekers to harvest and packing work.

Visit: Harvest Trail

Q.I.T.E.

Is a government registered Harvest Trail Services Work office.

Can help with the general harvest and packing work along with all types of employment.

Work Videos

Check out what some of the work looks like!  New videos being uploaded continuously!

Nursery industry:

Production horticulture:

Videos coming soon!

Have a useful video?  Get in contact.

Sugarcane:

Videos coming soon!

Have a useful video?  Get in contact.

Irrigation:

Videos coming soon!

Have a useful video?  Get in contact.

Timber & Forestry:

Videos coming soon!

Have a useful video?  Get in contact.

Getting There

Finding the beautiful Whitsunday regions is easy!

Bowen is the main town in Mackay and is central to the entire Whitsunday Region and there are other airports and transport options to get to the broader region.

This region is very large and moving around the region will need to be well planned.  Click a regional button below for more details.

“Below you will find information about Bowen, from where to shop to where to spend your days enjoying the town.

People who live in Bowen are famous for their big smiles and open hearts!

Tag #japanagriexchange on Instagram, or @bowen.growers on Facebook.”

This information is proudly provided by the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association who represents the Whitsunday region.

Bowen Cinemas

If you would like to see a movie, you can visit the Bowen Summer Garden Cinemas. This historic cinema is owned and run by Bowen local Ben Delucas – make sure you say hi! The cinemas show the latest movies from Hollywood and around the world.  You can see times and prices on their website.

Markets

Every Sunday there are farmers markets on Horseshoe Bay Road. Get there early to enjoy coffee and breakfast, and bring a shopping bag to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables. The produce here is often cheaper than the supermarket and very fresh.

Shopping

There are two supermarkets in Bowen, which stock most things that you will need:

IGA in the Bowen CBD (open Sundays).

Woolworths at the Centrepoint Plaza.

 There are also Asian grocery stores in Williams Street that stock many items from Japan.

If you feel like seafood, Bowen is the place to be! Our seafood is caught locally so its always very fresh and a good price. You can visit Arabon Seafood or Birds Fish Bar for fresh seafood to cook at home.

There are a few options for clothing in Bowen. Target is a department store with well priced clothing, footwear and underwear. It is located next to IGA. If you are on a budget, you can try one of many second hand clothing shops, such as Salvation Army, Australian Red Cross or Vinnies. These shops are a great option for farm clothing. If you are looking for running shoes, sports clothes and swimmers, Sports Power at Centrepoint Plaza is a great place.

There is one discount shop (Prices Plus) in Bowen, located at Centrepoint Plaza. If you’re looking for costumes, party supplies, kitchen ware, cords for devices and more, this is the place for a bargain.

There are two newsagencies in Bowen, where you can buy gifts and cards.  They are Bowen Plaza News and Hickmott’s Supa News.

For fishing supplies there are two fishing shops located in Williams Street. The friendly staff will help you buy the right rods, line and lures for fishing around Bowen.

There are two hardware shops in Bowen, Home Hardware and Mitre 10. If you need an esky, drink bottle or boots for work, these are the best shops. The staff will help you find what you need.

If you are looking for advice on taking a tour or holiday, you can talk to the team at Bowen Tourism. There is a booth at the front beach with holiday brochures, or the Information Centre next to the Big Mango – who are also famous for their yummy frozen mango!

Bowen Services (Mackay Region)

There are many towns within the Greater Whitsunday Region.  Some towns are very small and will not have everything you need and others are quite large with most services available.  If in Bowen, click in the links below to find the location.

Bowen Post Office

Bowen has one Post Office located in the main street.  If you are visiting from overseas, you can send items home and get a sim card for your mobile here. If your mobile phone breaks, you can buy a new one here. They also have stationary supplies and gifts.

Bowen Hospital

For emergencies – such as a broken bone, or for out-of-hours help, you can visit the Bowen Hospital.  If you are visiting from overseas, please be aware there could be a high cost for attending depending on your travel insurance.

Bowen Doctors

If you get sick you can visit any of the doctors in Bowen.  Just search for one near you and make an appointment.

Bowen dentists

If you need a dentist, there are three dentists in Bowen. Most have a long wait list but will see you immediately if it is an emergency.

Bowen Chemists

There are two chemists in Bowen:

LiveLife Pharmacy Bowen Plaza

LiveLife Pharmacy Bowen Healthcare (open Sunday mornings)

The staff at the chemist are very helpful and are used to helping our backpackers with not much English. Tell them what your problem is and they will help you with medication. If you have a script from the doctor you can take it to the chemist to fill.

Bowen Police

If you have any concerns relating to theft, abuse or inappropriate behaviour, you can report it to the police. The Bowen police are very friendly and will help you in any way they can.

This information is proudly provided by the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association who represents the Whitsunday region.

“There are many restaurants, pubs, cafes and take away shops in Bowen. Here are a few to get you started. You’ll also find more in the Bowen Visitor Guide.”

Pubs and restaurants

Bowen, Tourism QLD Copyright

Grandview Hotel, Bowen

Located near the front beach, the Grandview Hotel is a local favourite! There are classic Australian pub food and interesting restaurant dishes. Most Friday nights there is live music to enjoy.

Larrikin Hotel, Bowen

The Larrikin Hotel has Australian pub food at a very good price for lunch and dinner. Their restaurant and bar are airconditioned, and there are always friendly locals to talk to. They have pool tables in the bar for a game with friends.

Central Hotel and Queens Beach Hotel

The Central Hotel and Queens Beach Hotel also have well priced Australian pub food and a great atmosphere.

The Cove Restaurant

Overlooking Grays Bay, the Cove Restaurant has beautiful Chinese and Thai food for lunch and dinner. This is the best place to watch the sunset!

Cafes

Sails on Main offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in a lovely airconditioned café on the main street.

Le Sorelle – The Sisters – have Bowen’s favourite coffee and beautiful breakfast and lunch menus. There is also a nice gift shop in the café. It is a very busy café so make sure you phone to book a table.

Merkai is located in Centrepoint Plaza and have great coffee and light lunches. This is a fun stop before you go shopping at Woolworths.

Takeaway and fast food

Birds Fish Bar have amazing cooked seafood and fish and chips. Great for a takeaway to eat on the beach, or dine on their deck overlooking the harbour.

If you love sushi,  there is a sushi bar called Momo Sushi! It is located on the corner of Livingstone and Herbert Streets.

We have everyone’s favourite fast food chains: See Google maps here.

Bowen

Beaches, fishing & snorkelling

Bowen is a mostly flat town, and everything is within walking distance! If you want a challenge, the Cape Edgecumbe walking trail is a must. Beginning at Horseshoe Bay, the trail takes you to the Horseshoe Bay lookout, then to Murrays Bay and finishes at Rose Bay. The walk takes about 1 hour, so bring water, your camera and a sense of adventure! For the perfect day out, pack your swimmers and take a picnic lunch to enjoy at Murrays Bay.

Bowen has 8 beautiful beaches, with swimming, snorkeling and fishing.  Here’s a little information on each:

Visit Bowen Tourism Information for more.

Horseshoe Bay

Horseshoe Bay is our famous beach and is known as one of Australia’s top 20 beaches. The beach is framed by giant granite rocks, and just metres from the shore is home to a spectacular coral reef. This is the best place to go snorkelling. You can hire stinger suits, snorkels and flippers from the Horseshoe Bay Resort office. It is best to go snorkelling with a friend, and to see the best coral, during the middle of the day. On the right side of the bay is an underwater sculpture to explore.

Good For: swimming, snorkelling, fishing.

Grays Bay

Located on the road to Horseshoe Bay, Grays Bay is a beach fantastic for swimming or a picnic. Facing North, the beach is protected from South East winds so the water is calm on most days. Many people enjoy fishing at Grays Bay, and there are free BBQs to cook your catch.

Good For: swimming, fishing.

Murrays Bay

Located a 15 minute walk over the headland from Horseshoe Bay, Murrays Bay is a tropical bay lined with coconut trees. In winter many visitors spot whales from this beach, and it is the best location to get great photos! It is generally a quiet beach and on many days you will be the only person there!

Good For: swimming, snorkelling (strong swimmers), fishing.

Rose Bay

Rose Bay was voted the best fishing spot by previous visitors!  The beautiful beach is good for snorkelling, or you can take your fishing rod over the rocks for an afternoon fishing. There are free BBQs and plenty of space to relax.

Good For: swimming, snorkelling (strong swimmers), fishing.

Front Beach

Located at the bottom of Bowen’s main street, the front beach has parklands, water park and access to Bowen’s Jetty. When the tide goes out you will find soldier crabs along the beach, or you can take your fishing rod out on the Jetty. On the Jetty look closely and you might see a green turtle or even a dugong. There are free BBQs along the beach.

Good For: walking, fishing.

Queens Beach

Stretching from Grays Bay to the Don River, Queens Beach is great for walking, fishing or just relaxing.

Good For: walking, fishing.

Kings Beach

Located to the South of Rose Bay, Kings Beach is great for walking, fishing or looking for shells.

Good For: walking, fishing.

Visit Tourism Whitsunday for more.

Whitsunday

More beaches, fishing & snorkelling

The Whitsundays is a very popular holiday destination for people all over the world.  Airlie Beach is just 45 minutes from Bowen and is a great place to visit on a weekend, or to stay for a few days holiday.

There are many fun activities and tours available in Airlie Beach.

Visit the Great Barrier Reef

You can visit the Great Barrier Reef with Cruise Whitsundays.  This tour company has a pontoon located at Harvey Reef and offers day trips to snorkel, dive and explore the reef. You can do an introductory scuba dive with no experience, or just snorkel around the reef.

Visit Whitehaven Beach

 Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet are one of the most photographed locations in the world!  There are many tours that can take you to Whitehaven Beach, and most offer snorkelling around the islands too.  Some tours are on fast, fun power boats, and others are more relaxing on a sailing boat.

Go Sailing

There are 74 islands around the Whitsundays and the best way to see them is on an overnight sail. There are many sailing tours for young people and backpackers, so it’s a great chance to meet friends. You’ll stay on the boat in a bunk and spend the days on Whitehaven, snorkelling, or sailing.

Visit Hamilton Island

You can spend a day on Hamilton Island and soak up the tropical village and resort. Cruise Whitsundays offer ferry services to the Island.

Visit the Rainforest

Conway National Park rainforest surrounds Airlie Beach and is filled with amazing animals and plants. There are walking tours that will also take you to Cedar Creek Falls, or you can ride a Segway through the rainforest.

See Airlie Beach from a Jetski

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can jump on a jetski to explore the water and islands around Airlie Beach. These tours are guided and you do not need experience to join in.

See Crocodiles in the Wild

Proserpine River is home to many Australian saltwater crocodiles and the best way to see them is with Whitsunday Crocodile Safari. You’ll also get a tour through the wetlands, BBQ lunch and billy tea with damper – an Aussie bush favourite. Tip – do this tour in winter and you’ll see more crocs!

Accommodation

The Greater Whitsunday Region has a lot of tourist accommodation, however, if you plan to visit and work, you will need cheaper and longer-term accommodation.  Make sure you organise your accommodation before you arrive.  Click in the below links to view options.

Connecting to the community

The Greater Whitsunday Region has a lot of community groups and support.

You can find links to directories below.