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Whitsunday Group of Islands

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Whitsunday Group of Islands

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Whitsunday Group of Islands - Cities, Towns and Localities
Special thanks to Ray Blackwood for permission to use content from his fantastic work and publication about ‘The Whitsunday Islands, An Historical Encyclopaedia’.

Source: Ray Blackwood, The Whitsunday Islands, An Historical Encyclopaedia
Available through the
Proserpine Historical Museum or
Parks & Wildlife, Whitsunday District Office, PO Box 332, AIRLIE BEACH QLD 4802

Acacia Island (see Newry Islands)

Acacia Island was name during a detailed survey by Lieutenant G E Richards, RN, in HMS Paluma, April 1887. Some older charts show Acacia Island with the alternative name of “Chings Island”.

The name most likely originated from one J L Ching of Wide Bay who is advertised in Maryborough papers and almanacs of the 1870s as the manufacturer and wholesaler of “Pure Dugong Oil”. The Port Newry area was a centre for dugong fishing as will be seen below and it is a reasonable assumption Ching had some connection with the area in his business. In his venture he was associated with Alfred Crocker, owner of the Club Hotel in Maryborough and F. Bryant, an auctioneer of Maryborough. The dugong oil trade began to decline in the 1890s. (Maryborough Almanac 1874, 1875; Parsons, R H The Port of Maryborough Lobethal, SA 1994.)

See Newry Islands for more background information.

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Akhurst Island (Arkhurst Island)

Originally named Akhurst Island in 1866 by Commander G S Nares, RN, in HMS Salamander after John Akhurst, Acting Boatswain 3rd Class. Nares’ survey chart and Admiralty chart BA347 in both its 1866 and 1882 editions show the name as “Akhurst”, but from 1916, BA347 and other charts show it as “Arkhurst”.

Nares’ sailing directions, a copy of which appeared in the Port Denison Times 13 October 1866, show the island as “Ackhurst Rock” and refer to what is now Grassy Island as ‘“Ackhurst Island”. However, no doubt to avoid confusion, by the time the survey chart was drawn, the rock had become “Akhurst Island” and the island had become “Grassy Island”.

During the Embury expeditions to Hayman Island in the 1930s Monty Embury held a special lease 8348 for 10 years starting from the 1st September 1934 over Akhurst Island, but following his departure from the scene and a review of the lease in 1936, it was revoked in 1938 and the island declared a national park.

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Allonby Island

Allonby Island was named by Staff Commander E P Bedwell, RN, on the SS Llewellyn and is one of the many names that derived from the then English county of Cumberland to the Whitsundays, following James Cook’s 1770 designation of the group as ‘The Cumberland Isles’. Allonby is a town on the north-west coast of the county of Cumberland, which was absorbed into the new county of Cumbria in 1974.

Allonby Island was declared a national park in 1936.

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Almora Islet

In 1879, under the command of Captain G S Nares, RN, the HMS Alert commenced a world scientific and hydrographic cruise from England, but whilst on the South American coast Captain Nares was called back to England and Captain John Fiot Lee Pearse Maclear, RN took his over the command. Maclear was a very experienced navigator and surveyor, having been second-in-command of HMS Challenger during her famous oceanographic voyage of 1872/5. (Linklater, Eric The Voyage of the Challenger London 1972.)

During this expedition, Maclear was to name a large number of features in and around Port Molle, which today can be grouped according to their likely origin.

One group of names was based after individuals and vessels connected with the then newly commenced Queensland Royal Mail Line service direct from London to Queensland ports via Torres Strait. Almora Islet name falls in this group.

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Anchor Islands (Sir James Smith Group)

The name first appeared on chart BA347 in 1882 and probably was given by Staff Commander E P Bedwell, RN, during his surveys of the late 1870s in SS Llewellyn, when he gave most of the individual names to the Sir James Smith group. The name likely derives from the fact that the area to the west of the group is well protected in south-east winds, and charts as far back as 1847 (BA1075) show it as a recommended anchorage.

It was here that the Nightingale sheltered from a cyclone in February 1864, though she was caught on a lee shore and wrecked on Hammer Island when the winds swung to the north-west as the cyclone passed by.

The Australia Pilot defines the Anchor Islands sub-group of the Sir James Smith group as containing Anvil, Bellows and Pincer Islets, Forge Rocks, Anchorsmith, Blacksmith, Hammer and Ladysmith Islands.

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Ann Islet

Ann Islet located to the west of Little Lindeman Island was mentioned, but not named, in March 1868 by Commander H M Bingham, RN, in HMS Virago. In his sailing directions he described it as ‘round and grassy’. The islet was named after Ann the wife of Alf E Cole, Director General of the Queensland Government Tourist Bureau (Nicolson family). See Cole Island for more details.
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Anvil Island

See Sir James Smith Group.
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Arkhurst Island (see Akhurst Island)

See Akhurst Island.
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Armit Island

In 1866 Commander G S Nares, RN, in HMS Salamander named Armit Island after crew member Sub Lieutenant Robert M Armit, RN.

Sailing directions issued by Nares in 1866 and published in the Port Denison Times of 13 October 1866 call the island “Wedge or Armit Island”, it being likely “Wedge” was derived from the island’s shape. Nares’ original survey chart showed today’s Armit Island and the small island to its south-east as “Armit Islands”, but later charts call the larger island alone “Armit Island”. (Such discrepancies between charts are not unusual, generally the result of transcription errors.)

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Aspatria Island

Aspatria Island originally was designated “L5” island by Matthew Flinders in October 1802, as one of his alpha-numeric namings.

It was re-named in 1879 by Staff Commander E P Bedwell, RN, in SS Llewellyn and is one of the many names from the then English county of Cumberland he brought to the Whitsundays following James Cook’s 1770 designation of the group as “The Cumberland Isles”.

Aspatria is a town in the north-west of the county which was absorbed into the new county of Cumbria in 1974. The island was declared a national park in 1938.

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Bailey Islet

Tiny Bailey Islet south-east of St Bees Island was first reported in September 1836 by Lucius C Bailey, sailing master of HM Sloop Zebra during a voyage from Sydney to India via the inner route, and for this reason it is named after him, and is one of the earliest namings in the area.

On 15 September 1836 Zebra anchored about nine miles to the south-east of the islet, Bailey noting in his remarks (National Library of Australia AJCP M2436) that it was not shown on charts. Next morning when they resumed their voyage north they passed to the west of the islet, but because Bailey was at the masthead at the time, he was unable to get precise bearings. Because of this uncertainty the islet first appeared on Admiralty charts very close to the southern side of St Bees Island.

This error was commented on in March 1843 by F J Evans, the sailing master in HMS Fly, who said in his remarks that the position they found it in was somewhat different to that shown on Admiralty charts, and his survey chart showed the correct position. However, the Admiralty apparently was not altogether convinced, and Chart BA1075 of 1847 showed a Bailey Islet in Evans’ assigned position with a question mark beside it, and adjacent to it another small island. To the north-west, just south of St Bees Island, was shown a second Bailey Islet marked “pd” (position doubtful) and thus on the charts of the time there were three islands which could have been Bailey Islet.

The confusion was resolved when HMS Cordelia passed by on January 2 1860 and her master’s journal (National Library of Australia AJCP M1578) commented “Bailey Islet is shown in three places. The centre position is correct” and finally, the one and only Bailey Islet appeared in Admiralty chart BA1075 of 1864.

A navigational light was placed on the islet in 1928, initially powered by batteries but converted to solar power in June 1986.

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Cole Island

Cole Island was locally known as ‘Stone Island’ until re-named ‘Cole Island’ in September/October 1933 by Lieutenant Commander H E Turner, RN, in HMAS Moresby. As there were already a number of Stone Islands in the overall area, the name change was meant to avoid confusion.

During that survey a party from the Moresby landed on the island to make observations and sketches, and at that same time Annette Kellerman, world famous and extroverted lady swimmer, aquatic performer and film star was camped on the island with her American-born husband J R L Sullivan, who was making a movie. This was an early venture into underwater film-making with Annette dressed as a mermaid swimming among the coral.

Local history has that this island was named after Alf E Cole, Director General of the Queensland Government Tourist Bureau who was a frequent visitor to the Whitsundays from at least 1931 (Proserpine Guardian 17 March 1934, 25 September 1937) until his death in the crash of a Fokker Friendship aircraft at Mackay on 10 June 1960. An adjacent islet was named after his wife, Ann. (Nicolson family).

Lieutenant Commander T F Roberts, RAN (Retired) who was on Moresby and on Cole Island during the 1933 survey says he believed the island was named after Petty Officer Maurice Cole of Moresby and as the name Ann Islet did not appear until 1939 (Australia Pilot) possibly this is so and the Alf E Cole connection was applied later.

Cole Reef was named after Petty Officer Maurice Cole during the same survey voyage by Moresby.

Source: Ray Blackwood, The Whitsunday Islands, An Historical Encyclopaedia

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