Just as the Water For Bowen Project is going to have a significant impact on economic activity to the north of Bowen, assuming that the water supply is available for use to the south of town we’ll be seeing considerable new development there as well.
Once the highway crosses the Don, you’re going to be right in the middle of what I’ve termed “another Bowen” and it’s safe to assume that the highway will be diverted around the back of the airport to take the through traffic away from the substantial commercial development that will probably occur between the old railway loop and the Big Mango.
Beside that diversion you will, more than likely, find the sort of roadhouse and takeaway food outlets that tend to cater for long distance drivers alongside the sort of “drive in” retail outlets you’ll find on the edge of most major centres.
Past that you’ll be into the residential section of “Another Bowen” which will extend at least as far as Whitsunday Shores.
Beyond that I’d expect pockets of farming activity as existing areas expand due to the increase in the available water supply. You’d also expect that there’ll be substantial residential acreage development stretching almost as far as the point where the rainfall makes cane-growing a viable option.
Cane farms might, of course, have moved beyond that point if the Water For Bowen supply reaches that far.
There are already some acreage developments along that part of the highway but lack of water makes them unattractive prospects as you drive past. An increased water supply would probably give them greater appeal, particularly as a base for workers in the mines in the hinterland,
The biggest change alongside the highway would come if the existing Whitsunday Coast Airport were relocated between Proserpine and Bowen. If that were to happen, part of the funding required could perhaps be obtained from the sale of the existing Bowen airport, which would be an ideal site for commercial development. Now that the hospital has helicopter access the use of the airport for medical emergencies could well be a thing of the past.
The future of the Whitsunday Coast airport is under consideration at the moment, with the only options being considered a new airport at Laguna Keys (hardly the preferred option from a Bowen-centric point of view) or the redevelopment of the existing airport.
Somehow I can’t help thinking that a little forethought a while back and a suggestion that part of the cost of a new airport between Bowen and Proserpine could be covered by the sale of the existing Bowen airport might have been enough to raise the idea from nowhere to favouritism.