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'a holiday destination'

Island Overview - Vegetation & Landscape
Island Overview - Vegetation & Landscape

High Resolution Map (1.4MB! .pdf)

Captain Cook on 7 June 1770 named 'Magnetical Island'.

In 1876 Harry Butler and his family came to Picnic Bay and became the first permanent white settlers on Magnetic Island. They built a cottage, grew vegetables, planted an orchard and became involved with immigrants quarantined at Picnic Bay before the quarantine station was ready at West Point in 1886. The Butlers also catered for picnickers to the Bay and built several thatched cottages when there was a demand for accommodation. This was the first guesthouse on Magnetic Island.



25 October 1886 J G O'Connell reported in his Survey of Magnetic Island that five different parties were settled round the Island and that Picnic Bay was a favourite resort of holiday seekers from Townsville. In 1887 town lots in Picnic Bay were offered at the first freehold land auction. About this time William Bright with his wife and daughter settled in Nelly Bay but it was only in 1895 that he got a lease over his land and improvements. He established Bright's Gardens famous for pineapples supplied to Government House. Emile Armand was already living at Arcadia in 1896 when he got an unconditional selection of thirty-nine acres on which he laid out gardens, planted palms and built several thatched buildings for guests.

1899 Robert Hayles built the first hotel on Magnetic Island in Picnic Bay. He also built a jetty and established a ferry service in competition with the Butler family at the other end of the Bay.

1909 farming land became available in Horseshoe Bay. The Lloyd-Apjohn family and then others planted fruit trees and large areas of pineapples and Horseshoe Bay became the centre of a successful pineapple industry.

By 1928 there were lifesaving clubs at Picnic Bay and at Arcadia. Groups of young people who came at weekends to be lifesavers built huts on land they leased or purchased. Also at this time families from the mainland were beginning to have their own houses for weekend and longer holidays. There were other guesthouses at Cockle, Nelly, Alma and Florence Bays and later at Horseshoe Bay and West Point. Magnetic Island was predominantly a holiday destination.

There is a heritage trail on Magnetic Island for you to discover. Further information is available at the Magnetic Island History and Craft Centre at Picnic Bay in the Queensland heritage registered old Picnic Bay School.

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