Whitsunday Island

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HillInlet ST 03.JPG
Hill Inlet, 2003
Whitsunday group Australia en.svg
LocationCoral Sea
ArchipelagoWhitsunday Islands
Total islands74
Area275.08 km2 (106.21 sq mi)
Local government areaWhitsunday Regional Council

Whitsunday Island is the largest island in the Whitsunday group of islands located off the coast of Central Queensland, Australia.


Whitsunday Island was inhabited by the sea-faring Ngaro people for around 8,000 years prior to British colonisation. Captain Cook named the island while sailing through the area in June 1770.[1]

The first of the logging camps on the island was set up by Eugene Fitzalan in 1861 to exploit the large hoop pine for construction of buildings at the new colonial outpost of Bowen on the mainland. Local Ngaro people laid siege to this camp, preventing work there for two weeks.[2] A Native Police detachment was soon afterwards stationed on the island to protect the loggers.[3]

By the mid-1860s leisure trips to Whitsunday Island from the port of Bowen were being organised by colonists.[4]

In 1878, Captain McIvor of the vessel Louisa Maria was careening his boat on a beach on the western side of the island with some Ngaro people being employed to clean the hull. After these people had heard that some Aboriginal men at Bowen had been killed, they became agitated. They threw the captain into the sea, pelted him with various objects and then speared him in the face. The Ngaro then killed the only other crew-member on board and set fire to the ship, destroying it. Captain McIvor survived and he and the remaining crew were picked up by a nearby vessel and taken to the mainland.[5]

Sub-Inspector George Nowlan of the Native Police, with his Aboriginal troopers and Captain McIvor, subsequently travelled to Whitsunday Island in order "to punish the blacks."[6] Nowlan's party spent a week pursuing the Ngaro across the island, where they "had punishment dealt out to them" and concluded with the expedition "permanently dispersing" the Ngaro.[7] The "policy of dispersal" was associated with the "indiscriminate slaughter of unoffending Aborigines."[8] The Ngaro who survived, fled in canoes to the mainland near Mackay and were further pursued by Inspector Morisset and Sgt Graham and their troopers.[9] A few months later, Captain McIvor was hacked to death by his Chinese cook.[10]


The island is accessible by boat from the mainland tourist ports of Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour. It contains many popular destinations for both day visitors and overnight sailors, including the magnificent pure-white sands of Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, the secure anchorage of Cid Harbour, and the sheltered waterway of Gulnare Inlet. The island also has six campgrounds.[11]

The island covers 27,508 ha (275.08 km2) in area.[12] Around the northern bays of the island are seagrass beds which support a diverse range of marine life.[13] Unadorned rock-wallabies are found on the island.[13]

The seas here are warm, clear, shallow, nutrient rich and fast moving due to large tidal flows making them well-suited to the growth of fringing coral reefs.[14] Whitehaven Beach on the east coast of the island was rated internationally as the top Eco Friendly Beach in 2010.[15]

The island should not be confused with Pinaki in the Tuamotu group which was named "Whitsunday Island" by Samuel Wallis in 1767.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A brief history of the Whitsundays". Sailing Whitsundays. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  2. ^ "THE GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS AT PORT DENISON". The Courier (Brisbane). Vol. XVIII, no. 1767. Queensland, Australia. 12 October 1863. p. 2. Retrieved 2 November 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "ROCKHAMPTON". The Courier (Brisbane). Vol. XVI, no. 1138. Queensland, Australia. 30 September 1861. p. 3. Retrieved 2 November 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ "BOWEN". The Brisbane Courier. Vol. XX, no. 2, 605. Queensland, Australia. 2 June 1866. p. 5. Retrieved 2 November 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "The Burning of the Louisa Maria, Schooner, by the Blacks". Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser. No. 2188. Queensland, Australia. 29 August 1878. p. 2. Retrieved 2 November 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "THE LOUISA MARIA". The Capricornian. Vol. 53, no. 34. Queensland, Australia. 23 August 1928. p. 12. Retrieved 5 November 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "BOWEN". The Queenslander. Vol. XIV, no. 162. Queensland, Australia. 21 September 1878. p. 775. Retrieved 5 November 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ Loos, Noel (1982), Invasion and resistance : Aboriginal-European relations on the North Queensland frontier 1861-1897, Canberra, A.C.T. ANU Press, ISBN 978-0-7081-1521-3
  9. ^ "Hunting up Aboriginal Desperadoes". Evening News. No. 3473. New South Wales, Australia. 2 September 1878. p. 2. Retrieved 16 December 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ "Murder of Captain McIvor". The Daily Northern Argus. No. 2967. Queensland, Australia. 16 December 1878. p. 2. Retrieved 5 November 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ "Whitsunday Islands National Park - Camping information". Department of Environment and Resource Management. 21 June 2010. Archived from the original on 10 May 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
  12. ^ "Economics - Whitsunday Island". Australian Natural Resources Atlas. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Archived from the original on 2 April 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
  13. ^ a b "Parks of the Whitsundays - Nature, culture and history". Department of Environment and Resource Management. 21 June 2010. Archived from the original on 9 May 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
  14. ^ "Whitsunday Islands: Nature, culture and history". Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  15. ^ "Qld beach wins world eco-friendly award". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 20 July 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2010.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 20°15′S 148°58′E / 20.250°S 148.967°E / -20.250; 148.967