From the aboriginal maritime community to Captain Cook’s discovery, the history of the Whitsunday region is a fascinating one.
Our beautiful region has a beautiful history, and the Whitsundays continues to progress to this day and make memories for locals and visitors alike that last a lifetime.
The Islands and Reef
The Islands and Reef
To understand the history of the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands, we must go an exceptional way back into the past.
Imagine an Australia that is much bigger than it is today. The Great Barrier Reef and the lush green hills of the Whitsunday Islands were once just a mountain range set along the mainland Queensland coastline. Then, the rising sea levels caused by the melting polar caps at the end of the last Ice Age slowly drowned the coastal mainland to leave the mountains peaking above the water as islands, the Whitsunday Islands.
As the mountains sunk beneath the surface, and the coastline began to recede, coral reefs began to appear. Staying close to the surface of the water, coral began to form on the base of these continental mountains after they became submerged. As the ocean rose, the coral crept further up these mountains, until they were completely submerged, leaving behind the Great Barrier Reef as we can see it today.
Coral Sea Marina Resort is the gateway to these natural wonders…
This region has a fascinating history! Long before The Endeavour sailed through the maze of Whitsunday Islands, the traditional custodians of the Whitsundays were The Ngaro & Gia people.
Today, millions of people come to visit the Whitsundays to enjoy life on the water and the yachting world of this region is legendary. Thousands of years ago, it was not so different – The Ngaro people identified strongy as a maritime community. Their territory stretched over the waterways, the islands, the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday coastline, and they traversed between it all in large outrigger canoes to fish and hunt.
You can even trace the path of the Ngaro people by navigating the Ngaro Sea Trail by boat or kayak yourself, to follow in the wake of where they once travelled.
Their incredible history, which has been dated to around 8,000 years, can be discovered throughout the islands including the ancient rock art in the caves in the Nara Inlet on Hook Island, as well as the many archaeological sites and discoveries that provide a small glimpse into their fascinating way of life.
Let us jump ahead from the traditional aboriginal history of the area to 1770, when Captain Cook (he was actually Lieutenant at the time) sailed The Endeavour through the islands and Great Barrier Reef, on surely one of the most breath-taking stretches of his journey.
As Captain Cook and the crew on board navigated their way through the maze of islands and crystal clear waters, they believed to have encountered this region on a date called Whit Sunday (a Christian holiday that takes place 7 weeks after Easter). What Captain Cook didn’t realise was that it was actually Whit Monday when he discovered the region, and instead they were officially named as The Whitsunday Islands.
The Abell Family
The Abell Family
The Abell family’s journey towards becoming some of the first settlers in Airlie Beach first began in 1869, when young Thomas ‘Dick’ Abell boarded the ship Young Australia in London, at 10 years old, and voyaged to Australia.
Many years later, in 1904, Thomas arrived on the shores of Jubilee Pocket with the hope of farming sugar cane. With no road between Jubilee Pocket and Cannon Valley, and it being a mountainous range, he soon discovered it would be far too difficult to transport sugar cane to the mill in Proserpine. Thomas and his family instead took to working the land, growing fruit and vegetables, as well as timber felling and hauling. In addition to this, the Abell family farmed livestock and felled timber not just in Jubilee Pocket and Airlie Beach, but also out on the Whitsunday islands including South Molle Island, Dent Island and Hamilton Island. The timber was used in the construction of roads and railways and assisted in the development of this beautiful yet remote region.
Out on the islands, it was during the 1920’s that tourism first began to appear in the Whitsunday region. Boats began taking visitors for day trips out to the settled islands, where huts were being built to provide a base for those who visited, and so, tourism was born.
Whilst their vision of sustainable farming was never quite realised, the Abell family played a pivotal role in developing the region, which assisted in putting the Whitsundays on the map as a ‘must-visit’ Australian paradise and becoming the thriving tourism precinct that it is today.
The Marina Resort
The Marina Resort
Our iconic waterfront hotel was first constructed back in the booming tourism years of the 1970’s. Soon to become one of the most popular resorts in the region, and to firmly place Airlie Beach and the mainland Whitsundays on the map as a great location to visit, in addition to the Whitsunday Islands, Coral Sea Resort Hotel (then called just Coral Sea Resort) began just as a single-story ground floor building.
As the years went by, the hotel grew alongside mainland tourism, with two more stories being added in 1983, and the top floor (penthouse level) being added in 1999 – alongside being treated to full renovation throughout resulting in a 77 room hotel with pool, private jetty, ocean front lawn and restaurant.
Next door, the neighbouring marina was also blossoming. Originally just a jetty (from 1948), the area grew to include a Kiosk (built in 1975), and then in 1988 the construction of the marina itself began, and it was given the name Abell Point Marina in acknowledgement of the first settlers to the region.
The marina continued to develop and grow slowly, until it was purchased in 2013 by current owner, Paul Darrouzet, who set about turning the marina into a 5-star destination that was representative of what the Whitsundays has to offer as a premium tourism destination.
The most recent phase of both marina and hotel’s fascinating history has come following the marina’s recent acquisition of Coral Sea Resort, where the two local icons have become unified and rebranded as Coral Sea Marina Resort, on a further step towards becoming the premium resort destination on the Whitsunday mainland coast.
Stage 1 of the hotel development was complete in December 2019. Upgrades to the arrival plaza, lobby and reception, common areas were carried up to create a contemporary and stylish interior theme. A new Fitness Room was built adjacent to the pool with incredible ocean views. The pool and restaurant area was upgraded and the completion of the renovations marks the launch of new The Rocks - Restaurant, Bar and Pool Club. A delicious modern Australian menu is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily at The Rocks.
Stage 2 of the hotel development is scheduled for early 2020 and will include upgrades to the hotel rooms, with changes to flooring, soft furnishing and decor.
With developments aimed at enhancing not only the marina resort village, but also the tourism industry within the Airlie Beach community, the future is full of promise and excitement at Coral Sea Marina Resort. Watch this space…