History And Heritage In The Whitsundays | Tourism Whitsundays QLD - The Whitsundays QLD
The Whitsundays, Queensland.
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The Whitsundays has a rich history dating back millions of years, when the hilly islands were formed when rising sea levels drowned a mainland mountain range.

The Ngaro Aboriginal people, one of the earliest recorded indigenous groups in Australia, were seen by Captain James Cook while exploring the Whitsunday Passage. The Ngaro people lived throughout the island chain and the nearby mainland for thousands of years. Rock art and middens at Hook Island’s Nara Inlet provide a record of their special way of life and there is an ancient Ngaro stone quarry on South Molle Island where tools were made.


Named after the goddess of fertility Proserpinia, the township of Proserpine dates backs to the 1870s when work-hungry people from all over the world arrived to grow and harvest sugar cane in the naturally fertile basin. The sugar mill, which processes about 2 million tonnes of cane each year, still stands in the middle of town.


Bowen also dates back to the 1800s and the town was at the centre of Queensland’s salt industry in the 20th century, even being earmarked as the state’s ‘capital of the north’ at one point.

The rich culture and history is evident at every turn in Bowen, which is famous for its historic murals on the walls of shops and pubs, and also its catalina museum celebrating the brave pilots who used Bowen as a base in World War II.

Collinsville and Surrounds

Collinsville and surrounds, meanwhile, are home to a number of characterful old pubs including the Bogie River Bush House and the Bowen River Hotel, which are great for getting to know the locals and hearing a few yarns over a counter lunch.  

Museums in the Whitsundays

Proserpine Museum, 198 Main Street, Proserpine Ph. 4945 3969

Open Monday-to-Friday 9:00am-4:00pm and open on weekends for groups over 10

Bowen Historical Society & Museum, 22 Gordon Street, Bowen, Ph. 4786 2034

Coalface Experience,19 Railway Rd, Collinsville Ph. 4785 5452

Open all week 7:00am-7:00pm

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