‘Kowie’ means “rushing waters” and the word is of Khoi origin.  But in fact, it is quite a slow-flowing river. In the 1820s the river mouth of the Kowie was a marshy area, with a few small islands and large reed-beds. Early attempts by settlers to develop a port were unsuccessful. But in 1841, William Cock diverted the river flow to a new channel along the West Bank and the mouth became navigable in 1863.  Up to 100 ships visited the harbour annually for 20 years.

Port Kowie Harbour

The early settlement on the river in the 1820’s was called Port Kowie. In 1825, it was renamed Port Francis, after the wife of the son of Colonel Henry Somerset, the governor of the Cape at that time. Then in 1860’s it changed again to Port Alfred in honour of Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria’s son, who visited the Cape at this time. This beautiful seaside town that grew up around the river is fondly referred to as “The Kowie”. It is the heart of the Sunshine Coast and a very popular tourist resort.