The Whitsundays

Where are the Whitsundays?

The Whitsundays is located 1000km north of Brisbane and 2000km north of Sydney, on the east coast of Australia. It is at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef at about 21 degrees South. The Whitsundays are the traditional home of the Ngaro Aboriginal people. There are 2 airports in the region; Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine) and Hamilton Island (Great Barrier Reef Airport).

The Whitsunday Island Map

The 74 islands of the Whitsunday Island group are mostly un-inhabited National Parks. Less than a dozen are homes to resorts to suit all tastes. Amongst the islands are numerous safe anchorages for you to choose from during your bareboating holiday.

Click on the map markers to discover the anchorage name and information for each area.

Map type: Normal, Satellite


History of the Whitsundays

Cumberland Charter Yachts was named after Cumberland Isles. James Cook named these islands after the Duke of Cumberland upon his discovery in 1770. There are several groups of islands which make up the Cumberland isles. The most well known is Whitsunday islands, Linderman group, Sir James Smith group and the Anchor islands group. These days the 74 islands are more commonly known as the "Whitsundays".

3 June 1770 (Whit Sunday) was the day James Cook discovered the group of lofty islands to the east, with 'Everywhere good anchorages... He named the passage as such "Whitsunday Passage" after the day of discovery.

To understand the Whitsunday landscape, we must go back 110 million years. At that time, volcanoes were active in what was to become Australia,

The Whitsundays lay in a geologically active zone, where volcanic activity continued for 37 million years. Explosive eruptions threw rock and ash into the air raining down on the surrounding land. Layers of volcanic debris built up and gradually formed a solid bedrock. Today, this bedrock, composed of ash and rock fragments 'welded' together, can still be seen on Whitsunday and Hook islands. The hardened rock appears as a smooth greenish grey to brown, and is worn away by saltwater waves.

Later, less violent volcanic activity injected lava flows into gaps in the bedrock, creating upright bands of darker rock, known to geologists as 'dykes'. Examples of these can be seen on Hook Island.

The Whitsundays are the traditional home of the Ngaro Aboriginal people, commonly known as the 'Canoe People'. Archaeological research shows that the Ngaro inhabited the Whitsundays for at least the past 9000 years. Evidence includes stone axes and cutting tools found in a stone quarry on South Molle Island, numerous fish traps were throughout the Whitsundays, and rock art discovered at Nara Inlet on Hook Island. At Nara Inlet, middens (large piles of discarded shells and bones) have enabled archaeologists to determine that people began using the cave there about 2500 years ago. Hundreds of other sites—many much older—have been found across the islands.

The writings of early explorers describe some of the Ngaro people’s skills in using and living in the marine environment. In 1788, James Cook recorded a Ngaro expedition in an outrigger, while others describe sturdy three-piece bark canoes capable of journeys on the open sea. These canoes, much more common than outriggers, were constructed from three diamond shapes of bark, one for the bottom and two for the sides. A fibrous root was used to sew the three pieces together. Ngaro men were skilled navigators. European seafarers reported seeing Aboriginal people paddling from Double Cone Island to South Molle Island, a distance of 21 km.

Ngaro people were also adept at using island plants. Grasstrees provided food and tool materials, yielding starch, nectar, shoots and grubs, and the ingredients for glue, firesticks and spear handles. The Ngaro also used many other plant species, including the coastal she-oak (bark and twigs for medicinal purposes, hard wood for spears and woomera pegs), and the native hibiscus (some parts apparently eaten, while bark was soaked and separated, then woven into dilly bags, fishing lines, nets and ropes). Ngaro women collected vegetables, seeds and fruits, and prepared them for cooking and eating.

A great variety of tools, utensils and weapons were used for fishing, hunting, gathering plants and cooking. The most effective and simple tools were broken pieces of rock used for cutting, crushing grains and as axe heads. Other tools included animal teeth and twists of bark. Woven grass nets were used to gather shellfish and fish, while fishing hooks were made from wood, bone, turtle shell and shells. Detachable harpoons, with points made from wood and bone, were used to hunt dugong. Fire was used for warmth and cooking, and to maintain grasslands and open up areas for hunting in forests.

The Ngaro people welcome visitors to enjoy thier homeland. The Ngaro sea trail was developed by the Ngaro descendents and Department of National parks to provide a unique blend of seaways and walks for all to enjoy. Click on this link to seatrail map to explore.

Click on a point of interest below for text, map and photos. This information is a guide only. During your charter, you will have the official charts, 100 Magic Miles guide and our operations staff to assist you to make good decisions about where to stay during the day and overnight. Or you can review our comprehensive list of approved overnight anchorages.

If you need help planning an itinerary try our suggestions here: Itinerary Planner

 Esk Island Reef
 Sandy Bay
 Sawmill Bay
 Sunlovers Beach
Armit Island
 Armit Island

Border Island
 Cateran Bay

Daydream Island
 Daydream Island Reef

Dumbell Island
 Dumbell Reef

Goldsmith Island
 Goldsmith Island Reef

Hamilton Island
 Hamilton Island Resort
 Hamilton Island Marina

Haslewood Island
 Windy Bay
 Chalkies (Stockyard) Beach

Hayman Island
 Hayman Island Reef
 The Narrows
 Blue Pearl Bay
Henning Island
 Henning Reef

Hook Island
 Manta Ray Bay
 Refuge Bay
 Nara Inlet (South East Anchorage)
 Butterfly Bay Anchorage 2
 False Nara
 Mackerel Bay
 Pinnacle Bay
 Hook Island Reef
 Nara Inlet
 Butterfly Bay
 Caves Cove
 Maureens Cove (Wrasse Bay)
 Luncheon Bay
 Saba Bay
 Macona Inlet
Lindeman Island
 Gap Beach
 Plantation Bay (East)
 Lindeman Resort-Dont Use
 Lindeman Island Reef

Long Island
 Happy Bay
 Palm Bay (Resort)

 Airlie Beach
 Abell Point Marina
 Funnel Bay
 Double Bay
 Double Bay - West
 Woodwark Bay
 Shute Harbour

Shaw Island
 Roberta Bay
 Billbob Bay
 Burning Point
 Neck Bay (West)

South Molle Island
 Bauer Bay (Paddle Bay)

Thomas Island
 Thomas Reef (No 1)

Whitsunday Island
 Peter Bay
 Beach 25
 Whitehaven Beach South
 Tongue Bay
 Gulnare Inlet
 Cid Harbour
 Turtle Bay (Whitsunday Island)
 Chance Bay
 Apostle Bay (South)
 Mays Bay
 Crayfish Bay
 Dugong Inlet
 More ...
Printable Whitsunday Island Map - PDF
Printable Whitsunday Island Map - HTML