Whitsunday Islands

The Whitsunday Islands are a collection of continental islands of various sizes off the central coast of Queensland, Australia, approximately 900 kilometres (560 miles) north of Brisbane. The northernmost of the islands are situated off the coast by the town of Bowen while the southernmost islands are off the coast by Proserpine. The island group is centered on Whitsunday Island, while the group's commercial center is Hamilton Island. The traditional owners of the area are the Ngaro people and the Gia people (Birri Gubba language group) whose Juru Clan has the only legally recognized native title in the region.[1]

In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, the Whitsunday Islands was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a "Natural attraction".[2]

Whitsunday Islands
Whitsunday group Australia en
Aus - Whitsunday Islands
LocationQueensland, Australia
Coordinates20°18′S 148°56′E / 20.300°S 148.933°E
Total islands74
Major islandsHamilton Island
Area282.82 km2 (109.20 sq mi)
Largest settlementHamilton Island (pop. 1350)
Population1,570 (2014)
Pop. density5.551 /km2 (14.377 /sq mi)

History and naming

The term is a misnomer as it is based on Captain Cook’s date for the naming of Whitsunday Passage, or as Cook spelled it in his HMS Endeavour journal, Whitsunday’s Passage.[3] Based on his journal date, Cook believed that the passage was discovered on Whitsunday, the Sunday of the feast of WhitsunPentecost in the Christian liturgical year—which is observed 7 weeks after Easter. As the International Date Line had not yet been established, the day of discovery was actually Whit Monday.

Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia
Whitsunday Islands.

There is some contention as to exactly which islands are within the informally named Whitsunday Islands, in particular those at the southern extremity and the inclusions to the west. What is certain is that they lie within the chain named Cumberland Isles by Captain Cook (now officially the Cumberland Islands) and a reasonably defined section of that chain and surrounding waters have become known worldwide as The Whitsundays, based on a contraction of the Whitsunday Islands designation.


The Whitsunday islands are a popular tourist destination for travelers to Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef with the area being one of the most popular yachting destinations in the Southern Hemisphere. The islands received about 700,000 visitors between March 2008 and March 2009.[4]

The Ngaro Sea Trail Great Walk is a mix of seaways and short walks, crossing South Molle, Hook and Whitsunday islands.[5] The tracks across the islands are linked by seaways suited to kayaking, sailing or powerboating. Camping is available at eight camping areas on the three islands. Several islands have large resorts, offering a wide variety of accommodation and activities. Chartering a yacht or bareboating is a popular way to explore the seaways, beaches and coves.


There are a total of 74 islands and islets among all the groups in the Whitsundays.

Whitsunday group

The most notable islands in the main Whitsunday group are named Dent, Hamilton, Hayman, Hook and Whitsunday which features the white sands of Whitehaven Beach.

Lindeman group

The most notable island in the Lindeman group is its namesake Lindeman Island.

Molle group

The most notable islands in the Molle group are Daydream Island (formerly West Molle Island), Long Island and South Molle Island.

Northern group

Some of the islands in the Northern group are Armit, Gloucester and Saddleback.

Whitsunday islands

Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island


Hill inlet, north of Whitehaven Beach

06. Whiteheaven Beach

Panoramic view of the Whitsunday Islands

Planton Island

Planton Island

A206, Whitsunday Islands National Park, Australia, sunset over mainland from summit of South Molle Island, 2007

Sunset over mainland from summit of South Molle Island's Mount Jeffreys

Table of islands

Listed below are islands of The Whitsundays, divided by group locality. Named rocks and islets can be found listed within the entry for the nearest island to that feature.

Island Capital Adjacent islets and features Area (km²) Population
Lindeman Islands Lindeman Island 30.34 10
Baynham Island 0.074 0
Comston Island 0.236 0
Gaibirra Island 0.323 0
Keyser Island 0.577 0
Lindeman Island 6.789 10
Little Lindeman Island 0.49 0
Maher Island Jesus Point 0.94 0
Mansell Island 1.177 0
Other Ann Island, Cole Island 0.222 0
Pentecost Island 1.25 0
Seaforth Island North Beach 0.265 0
Shaw Island Neck Bay, Burning Point 15.62 0
Thomas Island Thomas Bay, Dead Dog Point 2.23 0
Triangle Island 0.115 0
Volskow Island 0.032 0
Molle Islands South Molle Island 20.17 150
Daydream Island Coral Beach, Lovers Beach, Mermaids Beach, Sunset Beach 0.23 30
Denman Island 0.095 0
Goat Island 0.047 0
Long Island Base Point, Fire Point, Happy Bay, Paradise Bay, Pelican Beach, Peppers Palm Bay, Sandy Bay, Spit Point 10.6 80
Mid Molle Island 0.13 0
North Molle Island 2.643 0
Other Gunn Island, Repair Island, Shute Island, Tancerd Island 0.588 0
Pine Island 1.063 0
Planton Island 0.114 0
South Molle Island Bauer Bay 4.66 40
Northern Group Gloucester Island 33.56 1
Armit Island 1.05 0
Double Cone Island 0.4 0
Eshelby Island 0.13 0
Gloucester Island 26.8 0
Grassy Island 1.29 0
Gumbrell Island 0.47 0
Manta Ray Island 0.32 0
Middle Island 0.43 0
Olden Island 0.43 0
Poole Island 0.19 0
Rattray Island 0.23 0
Saddleback Island 0.58 0
Stone Island 1.24 1
The Whitsunday Group Hamilton Island 198.75 1409
Bird Island 0.017 0
Black Island 0.05 0
Border Island Cateran Bay 3.066 0
Cid Island Bench Point, Gilling Point 2.95 0
Cowrie Island 0.024 0
Deloraine Island 0.172 0
Dent Island 4.13 2
Dumbell Island 0.141 0
Dungarra Island 0.094 0
Esk Island 0.1 0
Fitzalan Island 0.054 0
Hamilton Island Crab Bay, South Head, Driftwood Bay, Coral Cove, Escape Beach, Broken Point, Sunrise Bay, Hideaway Bay, Catseye Bay, Pebble Beach, Airport Beach 7.98 1350
Harold Island 0.345 0
Haslewood Island 7.941 0
Hayman Island Dolphin Point, Tower Point, Rescue Beach, Groper Point, Arkhurst Point, Blue Pearl Bay, Royal Hayman Hotel 3.78 50
Henning Island 0.496 0
Hook Island 54.87 5
Ireby Island 0.046 0
Langford Island 0.093 0
Lupton Island 1.05 0
Nicolson Island 0.163 0
Other Buddibuddi Island, Yuindalla Island, Petrel Island, Arkhurst Island, Plum Pudding Island 0.904 0
Perseverance Island 0.342 0
Teague Island 0.558 0
Titan Island 0.011 2
Whitsunday Island 109 0
Wirrainbeia Island 0.04 0
Workington Island 0.333 0
Whitsunday Islands Totals 282.82 1570

See also


  1. ^ Prior on Behalf of the Juru (Cape Upstart) People v The State of Queensland (No.2) [2011] FCA 819 (26 July 2011), Federal Court (Australia).
  2. ^ Bligh, Anna (10 June 2009). "PREMIER UNVEILS QUEENSLAND'S 150 ICONS". Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 24 May 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  3. ^ http://southseas.nla.gov.au/journals/cook/17700604.html
  4. ^ Andrew Bain (21 November 2009). "The alternative Whitsunday". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  5. ^ "Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail". Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing. 25 March 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2013.

External links

Cumberland Islands (Queensland)

For the Cumberland Island of Georgia, USA, see Cumberland Island.The Cumberland Islands form a group of 70 islands at 20°34′S 149°08′E on the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Mackay in Queensland, Australia. They were discovered by Captain James Cook in 1770.In 1770 James Cook (then a lieutenant in the Royal Navy) in His Majesty’s Bark the Endeavour sailed past the coast off Mackay. After travelling north for a further two days, in his journal for Monday 4 June he recorded that he named the body of water through which he sailed Whitsunday’s Passage "… as it was discovered on the day the Church commemorates that Festival" and called the islands in the area "Cumberland Isles in honour of His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland" (Henry Frederick, the brother of His Majesty King George III of England).

In giving the name, Cook gave no firm indication which islands in the area were encompassed, but his chart showed the name covering islands as far south as St Bees Island and Keswick Island, and Hayman to the north. More detailed charts by those following Cook showed likewise. Over time "Isles" has been replaced by "Islands". More recently these islands have increasingly become known as the Whitsunday Islands, and the general area more simply as the "Whitsundays".

The Cumberland Islands were grouped into the Whitsunday Group, the Lindeman Group, the Anchor Islands, the Sir James Smith Group and the South Cumberland Islands National Park.

Cyclone Ada

Severe Tropical Cyclone Ada was a small but intense tropical cyclone that severely impacted the Whitsunday Region of Queensland, Australia, in January 1970. It has been described as a defining event in the history of the Whitsunday Islands, and was the most damaging storm in the mainland town of Proserpine's history at the time. Forming over the far eastern Coral Sea in early January, the weather disturbance that would become Ada remained weak and disorganised for nearly two weeks as it slowly moved in a clockwise loop. Accelerating toward the southwest, the system was named Ada on 15 January. All observations of the fledgling cyclone were made remotely with weather satellite imagery until it passed over an automated weather station on 16 January. The extremely compact cyclone, with a gale radius of just 55 km (35 mi), intensified into a Category 3 severe tropical cyclone just before striking the Whitsunday Islands at 14:00 UTC on 17 January. At 18:30 UTC, Ada's eye crossed the coast at Shute Harbour. The cyclone made little inland progress before stalling northwest of Mackay and dissipating on 19 January.

Ada devastated multiple resort islands in the Whitsundays, in some cases destroying virtually all facilities and guest cabins. The biggest resort, located on Daydream Island, was obliterated, with similar destruction seen on South Molle, Hayman, and Long islands; since most boats docked on these islands were destroyed, hundreds of tourists in these resorts became stranded and required emergency rescue. Based on the severity of the damage, wind gusts were later estimated at 220 km/h (140 mph). As Ada moved ashore, most homes were damaged or destroyed in communities near the storm's landfall point, including Cannonvale, Airlie Beach, and Shute Harbour. Extreme rainfall totals as high as 1.25 m (49 in) caused massive river flooding in coastal waterways between Bowen and Mackay. The floodwaters washed out roads and left some locations isolated for days. Offshore, seven people were missing and presumed dead after their fishing trawler encountered the cyclone. Ada killed a total of 14 people, including 11 at sea, and caused A$12 million in damage. The cyclone revealed inadequacies in the warning broadcast system, and served as the impetus for enhanced cyclone awareness programs that have been credited with saving lives in subsequent cyclones.

Daydream Island

Daydream Island is one of seven islands of the Molle Group, a sub-group of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, Australia. The island is small, measuring 1 km in length and 400 m at its widest point. The highest point on the island is 51 metres above sea level.

There are two tourist resorts on the island: the original resort at the southern end and a newer resort at the north-eastern end. The original resort caters to day visitors and the newer resort, which opened in 1990, caters to overnight guests. Tourists from the mainland port of Abel Point Marina regularly visit the island.

It is owned by China Capital Investment Group as of March 2015.

Dent Island (Queensland)

Dent Island is an island just off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Dent Island is located at 20°21′S 148°56′E. Dent Island is part of the Whitsunday Group and lies immediately west of Hamilton Island. The Whitsunday Group is one of the Island Groups that together comprise the Whitsunday Islands (also known as the Greater Whitsunday Islands or Greater Whitsundays).

The earliest charts of the Whitsunday area showed only one island, named ‘Passage Island’ where Dent Island and Hamilton Island currently lie. It was not until 1866, when Commander G. S. Nares, Royal Navy, on HMS Salamander, carried out a detailed survey of the northern waters of the Whitsunday Passage that the charts were amended to show two separate islands. Dent Island was named after Lieutenant Albert Dent of HMS Salamander.

Another small mangrove island in Queensland is known locally as "Dent Island", It is located in the Proserpine River just downstream of the mouth of Saltwater Creek. It was given the name after the 33-ton steamer Ada Dent, which shipwrecked and sank in deep water off Lady Elliot Island on 21 June 1907.

Construction of the Hamilton Island Golf Club was completed on Dent Island and it was open to play from August 2009. This 18 hole golf course is operated by Hamilton Island. Designed by five times British Open winner Peter Thomson, the championship Par 71 course measures 6,715 yards (6,140 m). Accessed by boat transfer from Hamilton Island it is billed as the only championship island golf course in Australia.

Electoral district of Whitsunday

Whitsunday is an electoral division in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, Queensland, Australia.

It extends from the northern suburbs of Mackay to Bowen and Proserpine as well as east to the Whitsunday Islands.

Great Barrier Reef Airport

Great Barrier Reef Airport (IATA: HTI, ICAO: YBHM), also known as Hamilton Island Airport, is a privately owned public use aerodrome and is the primary airport of the Whitsunday Islands, as well as the airport of Hamilton Island. The airport is settled on mostly reclaimed land and is commercially served year-round by Jetstar Airways, Virgin Australia and Qantas. Hamilton Island Airport handles direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns and is also the airport launch pad for scenic flights to the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach. Private flights and charters also fly into Great Barrier Reef Airport, along with locally operated helicopters, light planes and seaplanes.

Initially constructed in the 1980s, the airport suffered heavily in September 2001 with the demise of Ansett Australia, which operated more heavily out of the airport than any other airline with flights to Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Queensland, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

In the year ending 30 June 2011 the airport handled 457,641 passengers making it the 19th busiest airport in Australia.

Hamilton Island (Queensland)

Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited island of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, Australia. It is positioned approximately 887 kilometres (551 mi) north of Brisbane and 512 kilometres (318 mi) south of Cairns. It is also one of the only islands in the Great Barrier Reef with its own commercial airport, with short direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns. Like most in the Whitsunday group, Hamilton Island was formed as sea levels rose which created numerous drowned mountains that are situated close to the east coast of Queensland.

At the 2011 Australian Census, the island recorded a population of 1,208 people. Hamilton Island is a popular tourist destination all year round. In late August, the island plays host to its annual Hamilton Island Race Week yachting festival, in which more than 250 yachts from across Australia and New Zealand gather for a week of races around the Whitsunday Islands. This is only one of many events hosted on the island. Hamilton Island has won multiple awards including the Australian Traveller 'Most Desirable Island Escape' Award in 2015.

Hamilton Island Golf Club

Hamilton Island Golf Club is a golf course located in near the Island Resort Town of Hamilton Island in Queensland's Whitsunday Islands. Despite its name, the Hamilton Island Golf Club is actually located on neighbouring Dent Island - but is named as such because the course is owned and operated by Hamilton Island Enterprises (who own the leases on both Hamilton & Dent Islands) and the course can only be accessed via the official boat from Hamilton Island Marina. The 18-hole championship layout was designed by 5 times British Open Champion Peter Thomson and Ross Perret. Set amongst spectacular hills and escarpments overlooking the waterways of the Whitsunday Islands, the course was opened at Hamilton Island Race Week by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh in August 2009.

Hayman Island

Hayman Island is the most northerly of the Whitsunday Islands, part of the Cumberland Islands, which are located off the coast of Central Queensland, Australia at 20°03′S 148°53′E. Hayman is a private island open to the public, most famous for its luxury resort which was built in the 1950s by millionaire Reg Ansett, who also founded Ansett Australia. The island is a significant drawing point for tourism in Queensland.

The island is small at just 400 hectares (988 acres) in area.

Hook Island

Hook Island is one of the Whitsunday Islands off the coast of the Australian state of Queensland. The island is almost uninhabited, quite rugged and almost completely contained within a section of the Whitsunday Islands National Park . The island has two prominent geographical features on the southern side of Hook Island; the Nara and Macona inlets, two fjord-like recesses that are used as anchorages for the Whitsunday tourist fleet. The island's northern coast is noted for its colourful underwater coral growths, to which snorkelling and diving enthusiasts are attracted.

In 1964, photos were taken at the islands which circulated globally after what was believed to be some kind of sea monster was visible. The best known of the Hook Island Sea Monster photos is familiar to many (the two or three others are less familiar). It features a gigantic, tadpole-like monster, supposedly encountered in Stonehaven Bay, Hook Island, Queensland, by Robert Le Serrec and his family and a friend during December of 1964.

On 12 February 2008 a yacht ran aground at Cape Cove. The yacht became wedged on dangerous rocks requiring the rescue of 37 people by helicopter. The incident was Australia's largest helicopter rescue operation from a vessel. At least two people have died from irukandji jellyfish stings while snorkeling off Hook Island.Some of the oldest archaeological sites ever found in Eastern Australia are the caves and midden of the Ngaro People on Hook Island. A site at Nara Inlet is the oldest indication of Aboriginal occupation in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Lindeman Island

Lindeman Island is an island in the Lindeman Group of the Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The island was named by Captain Bedwell after his sub-lieutenant, George Sidney Lindeman whilst aboard the Royal Navy vessel HMS Virago.Most of the island is included in the Lindeman Islands National Park which also protects another 13 islands. There is also a resort and an airport on the island.Lindeman Island was created after a volcanic mountain range was drowned by rising sea levels.

Long Island (Whitsunday Islands)

Long Island is a member of the Whitsunday Island group off the east coast of Queensland, Australia. It is 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) in length and is at its widest point only 400 metres (1,300 ft). Long Island is the closest island in the Whitsunday group to the mainland of Australia, being only 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) from the coastline. A boat transfer to the island from Shute Harbour on the mainland takes 20 minutes.

Most of the island is national park, including 2,500 acres (1,012 hectares) of tropical rainforest and 20 kilometres of bush walking paths. There is a coral reef 150 metres (492 ft) offshore.

Molle Islands National Park

Molle Islands is a national park in North Queensland, Australia, 913 km northwest of Brisbane. The park covers several continental islands a short distance offshore including Long Island, Tancred Island, Repair Island, Planton Island, Goat Island, Denman Island and the majority of North Molle Island, Mid Molle Island and South Molle Island. The park features white sandy beaches, open eucalypt forests, rainforest-clad gullies and grasslands. The traditional owners of the islands were the Ngaro people.

Ngaro people

The Ngaro were a seafaring Australian Aborigine group of people that inhabited the Whitsunday Islands and coastal regions of Queensland, in an area that archaeologically shows evidence of human habitation since 9000 BP. Ngaro society was destroyed by warfare with traders, colonists, and the Australian Native Police. The Native Police Corps forcibly relocated the remaining Ngaro aborigines in 1870 to a penal colony on Palm Island or to the lumber mills of Brampton Island as forced laborers.

Solway Lass

Solway Lass is a two-masted schooner. She was built in the Netherlands in 1902 and is currently operated out of Airlie Beach, Australia as a holiday sailor in the Whitsunday Islands.

Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach is a 7 km stretch along Whitsunday Island, Australia. The island is accessible by boat, seaplane & helicopter from Airlie Beach, as well as Hamilton Island. It lies across from Stockyard Beach, better known as Chalkie's Beach, on Haslewood Island. The beach is known for its crystal white silica sands and turquoise coloured waters. The beach has barbeque and camping facilities.

Whitsunday Airport

Whitsunday Airport (IATA: WSY, ICAO: YSHR) is an airport located in Flametree in the Whitsunday Region, Queensland, Australia. It is located between the popular tourist destinations of Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour and the Whitsunday Islands. Due to the mountainous terrain in the tourist area, there are limited opportunities for airports.

The airport's runway has a 1,410-by-20-metre (4,626 ft × 66 ft) asphalt surface. The elevation is 40 to 60 feet (12 to 18 m).

Whitsunday Island

Whitsunday Island is the largest island in the Whitsunday group of islands located off the coast of Central Queensland, Australia. Whitehaven Beach was rated as the top Eco Friendly Beach in the world by CNN.com in July 2010. The island should not be confused with Pinaki in the Tuamotu group which was named "Whitsunday Island" by Samuel Wallis in 1767. It is uninhabited today but was once settled by the sea-faring Ngaro people. 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 on the mainland.

Whitsunday Islands National Park

Whitsunday Islands is a national park in Queensland, Australia, 920 kilometres (570 mi) northwest of Brisbane. It contains Whitsunday Island and 31 others.

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