Army trains sights on 'safebase' in Bowen
AFTER opening the door to more than 1000 men and women from the armed forces last month, plans are underway for Bowen to host more large scale military exercises.
Troops from Army, Navy and air force stormed the shores of Kings Beach in June as part of the Australian Military's Operation Sea Explorer.
It was the largest amphibious exercise in 2018.
Mayor of the Whitsundays, Andrew Willcox said council was in discussions with the armed forces about holding a bigger training exercise in Bowen next year.
"The exercise was very, very successful. They participated in activities around the area such as the Bowen State School Fete and supported local businesses. The army was very happy with Bowen," he said.
Cr Willcox said Bowen was ideally situated for training purposes and could offer easy access to beaches, an airfield as well as hectares of vacant land near Collinsville.
He said the exercises had significant economic benefits that started with officers booking accommodation months out to prepare.
Cr Willcox said his main goal was to provide more down time for troops so they could enjoy local areas.
"We want to get more activities they have War Games out at Shoalwater Bay every year, so we want Bowen to be a training ground to get ready for it. I'd like to see a combined exercise of air force, army and navy," he said.
Chairman of the Bowen Chamber of Commerce Bruce Hedditch, who previously served as the Mayor of Wagga Wagga, said the military injected tens of millions into their economy each year. He said he would love to eventually see a military base built in Bowen.
"I wrote to Minister Marise Payne and conveyed our thanks for the exercise they held here. I hope we are considered for more," he said.