Bowen River Hotel | Environment, land and water | Queensland Government

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Bowen River Hotel

  • 600042
  • Strathbowen-Leichhardt Range Road, Collinsville


Also known as
Heidelberg Inn
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
21 October 1992
Retail, wholesale, services: Hotel/inn
3.8 Developing secondary and tertiary industries: Marketing, retailing and service industries
3.11 Developing secondary and tertiary industries: Lodging people
Construction period
1865, Bowen River Hotel (1865c - 1865c)
Historical period
1840s–1860s Mid-19th century


Strathbowen-Leichhardt Range Road, Collinsville
Whitsunday Regional Council
-20.53400802, 147.55624537


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

Its significance is enhanced because of its connection with the pastoral development of the Kennedy Region and Central Western Queensland.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

The building is one of very few surviving country hotels constructed using bush carpentry techniques.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

The Bowen River Hotel is representative of a transitional type of timber construction which led to the development of a distinctive style of architecture in Queensland.

Criterion FThe place is important in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period.

The building is one of very few surviving country hotels constructed using bush carpentry techniques.


Phillip Sommer and his partner John Harvey pioneered the area in 1862. They established a sheep and cattle run on Heidelberg, a selection of ninety five square miles taken up by James Mead in 1861 but never stocked. Sommer had moved to Dotswood Station north of Charters Towers by 1866 and the Bowen River Hotel was operating from his Heidelberg homestead by 1865 with George Burnes as publican.

It was constructed on the supply route to Central Western Queensland which passed through the Kennedy District. Licensing information from the Port Dennison Times indicates that it was probably one of two hotels built at much the same time in the same area. An inn called the Heidelberg was built at 'the lower crossing place' while the Bowen River Hotel was constructed higher up on top of the steep bank of the River. The building was donated to the National Trust of Queensland in 1974 by Ted Cunningham of Strathmore Station and restoration of the rear wing was carried out by Mr George Stewart at that time. Since the 1970s the structure has been left exposed to vandals and campers.


The Bowen River Hotel was built in the 1860s from local timber and originally roofed with bark. It comprises two buildings connected by a covered walkway, and is an example of careful bush carpentry and skilled jointing fixed with wooden pegs. The complex comprises two buildings connected by a covered walkway. A verandah extends round three sides of the main building, while a small verandah opens off the main room on the northern corner of the second and smaller structure.

Both buildings are raised on low stumps, some of which have ant caps, and flooring laid on a rough timber frame, rather than an earthen floor. It would appear to be an early example of this technique. Horizontal slabs of split timber have been used to construct the walls and the hipped roof and skillions over the verandahs are of corrugated iron.

A post and rail fence encloses what was once the front yard of the hotel. The building sits in a rural landscape with White Cedar and Burdekin Plum trees near the house and Oleanders along the front fence.

Image gallery


Location of Bowen River Hotel within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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