Your Whitsundays experience starts here...
Historical & Heritage Sites
The Whitsundays has a long and rich cultural heritage, beginning with the ancient Ngaro indigenous people who have lived in the Whitsundays region for over 8,000 years. The original inhabitants of the Whitsundays, the Ngaro moved seasonally throughout the islands in search of food and had no permanent settlements. The Ngaro were keen fisherpeople, mkaing the most of the abundance of fish and other marine animals around the islands. They used spears and fashioned simple bark canoes 2-3 metres long, often made from a single piece of bark.
To truly experience this ancient tradition and view some of the cultural remains including rock art, visitors can hike to the Ngaro Cultural Site at Nara Inlet on Hook Island. Another site of significance to the Ngaro is Hill Inlet on Whitsunday Island, and to this day the upper reaches of the inlet are considered a sacred site and a permit is required for access.
In 1770, Europeans sailed through the Whitsunday Passage between the islands and the mainland for the first time. Captain James Cook was sailing the east coast of Australia in his ship The Endeavour on Sunday 3 June, and named the area 'Whit Sunday' in reference to a Christian holiday on the religious calendar. Little did Cook know that in Australia it was Monday 4 June, as longitudinal time zones were not well understood at the time. Cook noted during this journey "Everywhere good anchorages... Indeed the whole passage is one continued safe harbour." Cook was responsible for the naming of several points on the map, including Cape Hillsborough near Mackay, Cape Conway, Cape Gloucester and Edgecumbe Bay near Bowen.
Since these early days, agriculture and mining have flourished in the region and the history of these communities can be explored at the Historical Proserpine Museum.