History Of The Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef

History Of The Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef
The Whitsunday Islands known history started over 100 million years ago, when catastrophic volcanic activity formed a mountainous region of terrain which was firmly connected to the mainland coast.
After the last Ice Age (around 30, 000 to 50, 000 years ago), the once dominant mountains were partially engulfed by the rising sea level, creating the present day network of 74 main Whitsunday Islands.

Indigenous tribes are thought to have roamed the islands for around 8,000 years before European settlement. The most historically dominant tribe were known as the Ngaro people, a nomadic group whose territory expanded across the entire island chain and some of the adjacent coastline. As one earliest recorded and well established tribes in Australia, these Indigenous Australians met fierce opposition when Europeans came to settle the alluring islands.

The Whitsunday Islands first documented, European history began on June 4th, 1770, when Captain James Cook sailed through the islands on his voyage up Australia’s east coast. Previously naming the island chain collectively as the Cumberland Islands, the Captain then named the ‘Whitsunday Passage’ after the day in which he thought he had sailed through it – Whit Sunday. Only in the mid 1800’s, after facing some fierce opposition from the local Indigenous community, were the first island land leases granted to mainland farmers. Then, in the 1920’s the first simple huts were established to entertain cruise ship guests and progressively, mainland day-trippers started to arrive. Now, the Whitsunday Region, which encompasses the Whitsunday Islands, attracts an average of 600,000 travellers each year.

Commonly known as the Whitsunday Islands, the island chain off the Airlie Beach coast is still officially charted as the Cumberland Islands. Presently, there are resorts on Daydream Island, Hamilton Island, Brampton Island, Long Island, Hayman Island, South Molle Island, Hook Island and Lindeman Island.

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