History of Hervey Bay

The area called Hervey Bay - pronounced Harvey Bay, was originally named and discovered by Captain James Cook in 1770. At that present time, James Cook did not realize that Fraser Island in Australia was a separate piece of land to that of Australia. With the Hervey Bay waters being shallow, he did not travel close enough to realize that these two pieces of land were in fact not joined. The name Hervey Bay comes from Lord Augustus Hervey, who was an admiral of The Blue, the Earl of Bristol and Captain Cook's boss at the time.

When he sailed past Fraser Island his ships log states that he was 2 leagues,(about 11 kilometres), off the land and at that distance his lookout would have been unable to spot the narrow channel at the southern end of Fraser Island which separates it from the mainland. This did not stop him naming the bay after the 'English Casanova', Augustus John Hervey, a sailor of some note who acquired a fierce reputation as a womaniser.

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Matthew Flinders passed through the area twice. In 1799 Flinders sailed around Fraser Island entering the bay and going ashore at the present site of Dayman Park. He was the first European to step ashore at Hervey Bay.

It is one of the ironies of history that Flinders, who returned to the area in 1802 on his historic circumnavigation of the Australia, did not locate the Fraser Island Straits on either of his voyages.

The first settlement of Hervey Bay occurred in the 1850s. Hervey Bay was originally part of a cattle station, the Toogoom Run, which was settled in 1854. The first permanent white settler at Hervey Bay was Boyle Martin who, with his wife and child, arrived in 1863. He worked cutting timber and it is suggested that he was the first person to grow sugar cane in the area. By 1859 the first subdivision of land around Hervey Bay took place.

Later in 1802 Matthew Flinders arrived and set about mapping Hervey Bay in more detail. The first European recorded as having set foot on Hervey Bay's foreshore was a man by the name of Boyle Martin in 1863. However, before this time, land between River Heads and Toogoom had been leased to William McPhail and Michael Sheehan and land at Booral to J. Aldridge.

In the 1870s many Scandinavian settlers moved into the area and for a short time Hervey Bay became known as Aarlborg. At this time the area was basically used for dairy farming. In the 1880s sugar was introduced to the area and the Kanakas were brought from the South Pacific islands to work on the sugar plantations.

In 1896 the Bay was connected to Maryborough by railway and in 1917 (progress wasn't exactly rapid) the Urangan Pier was completed and Urangan became an important port for the export of sugar.

The attractions of the area were obvious. The fishing was good, the place was quiet, the weather was excellent, the area around the bay was flat and accessible. All these factors quickly led Maryborough businessmen to take up large waterfront blocks of land for weekend retreats. A number of villages began to develop throughout the area and were individually named: Polson's Point which became Point Vernon; Barilba which became Pialba; Torquay; Urangan; and, Gatakers Bay.

It was not until September 1977 that the combined villages were declared the Town of Hervey Bay and the area was finally named a city in February 1984.

In the mid 80's Hervey Bay was serviced by the rail link from the North Coast line that passed from Aldershot and went through Takura, Nikenbah and then towards Pialba and Urangan. This rail line was a major transportation point for the Port of Maryborough and the sugar cane industry assumed the role via transport. Hervey Bay is neighbored by towns such as Maryborough, Bundaberg, Woodgate and Childers - all within no more than one and a half hours away at maximum. The land in the Fraser Coast region has been well loved for not only living beside the seaside, but also as a growth for sugar cane harvesting. Hervey Bay, Maryborough and Bundaberg harvest their own sugar cane year in, year out during season times. This becomes a massive growth for not only the Fraser Coast economy, but also for employment to be obtained in these industries. Bundaberg boasts it's very own Bundaberg Sugar production line, which has been popular for many years.

In 1984, Hervey Bay became known as the 'City of Hervey Bay' after many years of growth in not only population, but also in business, tourism and the industry itself. Ironically, even though this place which was once a small seaside village was now being known as a City, it still remained a fisherman's haven in the eyes of many locals and tourists who would continue to visit this great area. Shopping Centres were created, and more well known businesses branched out to Hervey Bay due to the popularity of the place. More people from the cooler States were now relocating to Hervey Bay and making it 'home' after many years of visiting the area annually. Hervey Bay was even recognized as one of the most attractive places to move to, with statuses showing that the rate people were relocating to Hervey Bay was climbing at an astonishing rate.

With World Heritage Fraser Island and Hervey Bay being the 'capital' for Whale Watching in Australia, it is not hard to see why so many people continue to return to the area for annual holidays, and whom eventually decided to move here and enjoy the lifestyle that all the locals rave about. With fishing, and Whale sightings as well as 127 kilometers of unspoilt beaches on Fraser Island nearby you can find more on Fraser Island History here - Hervey Bay was bound to be the 'pot of gold' that Captain Cook discovered all those years ago.

Copyright © 2001 Malcolm Thomas 

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