On other days, with the barriers further back, it’s much more difficult to keep track of arrivals, and, back when the footpaths were lined in anticipation of Pamplona arriving at any sort of definitive figure would have been downright impossible....
On those days, the information dissemination becomes a matter of wandering across to people you don’t recall having sighted before and trying to engage them in conversation.
So, some observations based on conversations with the visitors I’ve spoken to, bearing in mind that they’re not necessarily coming from anything resembling a representative sample of the ten thousand or so people who’ve passed through town so far this month.
First, while there are plenty of people who’ve been here before and make a point of stopping in Bowen on their way north or south, there are just as many who’ve looked at the view from the highway and decided to keep on going to Townsville or Mackay.
Second, while we think of Bowen being the focus of considerable media attention, there are a surprising number of people turning up who had no idea that there was anything out of the ordinary occurring in town.
Now that’s hardly surprising where people like backpackers are involved, particularly early on in proceedings before the word of mouth started circulating through the backpacker hostels. There were plenty of bemused travellers wondering what was going on and whether their accommodation arrangements were still valid back in the first couple of weeks.
And even some of those who were in residence in the backpacker hostel behind the corrugated iron fence seemed not to have noticed anything untoward while the set was being constructed.
On the other hand, the older couple from Devonport who I spoke to last Friday weren’t the only people I’ve encountered who’ve spent the night in town without realising that there was a movie being made at the bottom of the main street. I was mildly amused to be told We called our son in Townsville to let him know we’d be there a bit later on today and he asked us whether we’d spotted any celebrities. We didn’t know what he was talking about.
Third, while there’s been a boom on the local accommodation scene, I’ve spoken to people who’ve had to stay in Proserpine or Airlie Beach because they couldn’t find a place to stay in Bowen.
Which, of course, brings us to the economic impact on the town.