History Of The Whitsunday Islands

Firstly the Whitsunday Islands were inhabited by the local Ngaro People; they were a seafaring community that populated the Whitsunday Islands and coastal waters. It was thought, this was one of the only Aboriginal tribes in Australia that lived as a maritime community.

The Ngaro people were known for their three-piece canoes (winta) crafted from ironbark trees. Their diet consisted of sea turtles and fish as well as flying foxes and local berries and fruits. Records show the Ngaro also hunted sea mammals like small whales from these canoes. Making this possible was their barbed harpoons that were thrown from their kayaks. 

By 1870 Warfare and disease along with the Native Police Corps made their lives extremely difficult, their final downfall came when they were removed by force to Palm Island and Brampton Island to work in timber mills.

In 1770  Captain James Cook on the HMS Endeavour was the first European to discover the Whitsunday Islands by sailing through the Whitsundays passage. Captain Cook made particular note of the outrigger canoes used by the local Ngaro people. During his time Captain Cook made essential discoveries and named islands and bays. Further North of the Whitsundays, the HMS Endeavour, ran aground on a coral week and had to limp to a coastal river for a repair that took seven weeks.

It took around 100 years for the first European settlers to arrive in the area, they were met by stiff opposition from the local Ngaro people. during the next 50 -60 years the islands were mainly used for sheep farming and a few small timber mills.

Whitehaven Beach was discovered in 1879 by Staff Commander EP Bedwell, but it wasn’t until the late 1900s did it become a popular tourist attraction. Hence the beach is relatively untouched by history leaving us with a destination that has looked this way for thousands of years