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The Whitsundays almost weren’t

Date: January 18, 2018 | By: bigfive | Category: Travel Blog

Apparently, the Whitsunday Islands, a collection of continental islands off the central coast of Queensland, Australia, should have been named the WhitMondays.

In 1770, English explorer Captain James Cook sailed through a passage he named “Whitsunday’s Passage”, which he did in honor of Whit Sunday, a Pentecost holy day in the Christian tradition. Based on his journal date, Cook believed that the passage was discovered on Sunday of the feast of Whitsun. As the International Date Line had not yet been established, the day of discovery was, it turned out, actually Whit Monday.

Regardless of the day, Cook sailed his ship, the H.M. Endeavour, into one of the most beautiful tropical paradises in Australia. Cook wrote: “The whole passage is one Continued safe Harbour, besides a Number of small Bays and Coves on each side.” He noted that the land “looked green and pleasant.

Some 560 miles north of Brisbane, this group of 74 islands sheltered behind the Great Barrier Reef were originally inhabited by the Ngaro people and the Gia people (from the Birri Gubba language group). The Ngaro are among the earliest recorded groups in Australia. Often called the ‘Island People,’ their territory expanded north – south along the island chain. They also inhabited the coast of the adjacent mainland. In their occupation as maritime hunters and gatherers, the Ngaro became well known as skilled navigators.

During the mid-1800s, the Whitsunday Group first attracted the attention of the pioneers on the mainland coast, and soon grazing leases were granted. It was not until the 1920s that some began to see the islands as a place to attract visitors. Early ‘dreamers’ built galvanized iron huts for guests. Cruise ship passengers rowed ashore for tropical fruits, tea and scones. The first day trippers from the mainland arrived on the island aboard the weekly mail boat.

Today, the most notable islands in the main Whitsunday group are Dent, Hamilton, Hayman, Hook and Whitsunday. This playground offers a vast menu of opportunities for adventure and exploration as well as relaxation. You are free to explore the islands, their history and historic settlements as well as a staggering marine ecosystem.

Discover our newest President’s Pick that offers this and so much more – New Zealand and Australia: Land, Sea, Sky.


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