History and Heritage

  • The Whitsunday Region was, prior to amalgamation in 2008, administered as two separate local government areas – the Shire of Bowen and the Shire of Whitsunday.

    The region has a rich political history dating back to the mid 1800’s when the Bowen Municipality was constituted on 7 August 1863 under the Municipalities Act 1858.

    On 11 November 1879, the Wangaratta Division was created as one of 74 divisions around Queensland under the Divisional Boards Act 1879. With the passage of the Local Authorities Act 1902, Wangaratta became a shire and Bowen became a town on 31 March 1903.

    On 19 January 1910, the Shire of Proserpine was excised from Wangaratta. It was renamed to Shire of Whitsunday on 18 February 1989 due to its inclusion of the popular Whitsunday Islands.

    On 2 April 1960, the Town of Bowen was abolished, and merged into the Shire of Wangaratta, which was renamed Bowen Shire Council. In July 2007, the Local Government Reform Commission released its report and recommended that the two areas amalgamate.

    On 15 March 2008, the Shires formally ceased to exist, and elections were held on the same day to elect councillors and a Mayor to the new Whitsunday Regional Council.

  • We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the lands in our region. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging and acknowledge their ongoing relationship and connection to Country.

    Within the Whitsunday Region, five groups of traditional owners occupy the country, within, but not limited to the following areas:

    • Ngaro Country around the Whitsunday Islands and the mainland coastlines
    • Gia Country around Proserpine and Gloucester surrounds (north to Bowen, south to O’Connell River and east to the Clarke Connor Ranges)
    • Juru Country around Bowen and Gumlu north to the Burdekin River
    • Jangga Country around Mount Coolon and surrounds
    • Birriah Country around Collinsville and surrounds

    Places and objects of Aboriginal cultural significance, such as sites for story telling or other cultural activities, scarred trees, stone extraction sites, ceremonial sites, fireplaces, ochre, axe grinding grooves, rock art, fish traps, graves, old growth vegetation, including culturally significant flora and fauna, shell middens, artefact scatters and traditional foods are found throughout following over 50,000+ years of occupation.

    These places and objects are appropriately preserved for current and future generations to maintain important connections to Country, Lore and Ancestry.

    Whitsunday Regional Council is a party to the following registered Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA’s) that were negotiated between Council and three of the native title holding groups currently recognised in the local government area.

    • Jangga People and Charters Towers Regional Council, Isaac Regional Council and Whitsunday Regional Council ILUA (QI2007/007) Registered 11/02/2010
    • Juru People and Local Government ILUA (QI2014/011) Registered 28/07/2014
    • Birriah People and Local Government ILUA (QI2014/090) Registered 19/05/2015

    Each of the ILUA’s record how the parties shall work together to recognise each other’s rights and interests and help each other meet their responsibilities. The agreement forms part of an on-going relationship between us and native title holders.

  • In 2014, we undertook a Local Heritage Study and adopted a Local Heritage Register in accordance with the requirements of Part 11 of the Queensland Heritage Act 1992 (the Act). The Act requires local councils keep a Local Heritage Register of places of cultural significance in its area and will identify and protect the history and heritage of the Whitsunday region for future generations.

    The local heritage places not only provide a sense of identity for the local community but reflect the unique history of our region. The places listed below have been included on the register as they reflect the important historical themes of the Whitsunday Region such as sugar, mining, settlement and tourism.

    We engaged a professional cultural heritage firm, Converge Heritage + Community (Converge), to undertake the local heritage study. Converge considered the historical themes for the region, examined previous heritage studies, inventories of places and existing heritage registers and consulted with a range of stakeholders to compile the proposed register.

    The significance of identified places was assessed using recognised heritage criteria including:

    • The place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of the region's history.
    • The place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of the region's cultural heritage.
    • The place has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of the region's history.
    • The place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places important to the region.
    • The place is important to the region because of its aesthetic significance.
    • The place is important in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period for the region.
    • The place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons important to the region.
    • The place has a special association with the life or work of a particular person, group or organisation of importance in the region's history.

    We undertook public consultation on the list of properties recommended for inclusion on the register in June and July 2014.

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