The Ngaro, an Aboriginal tribe inhabited the Whitsunday islands at least 8000 years prior to the Europeans arriving in 1770. These very independent island people where quite different from their mainland cousins. They were essentially nomadic, travelling throughout the Whitsundays and the mainland coastal fringe. The Ngaro people built canoes from treebark, vine fronds and saplings, making them strong enough to navigate the Whitsunday island chain in safety. Beautiful cave paintings, fish traps, stone quarries and everyday artifacts attesting to their eight millennia of ownership have been found throughout the islands. An important site at Nara Inlet has an interactive story board that explains the tribes history. Here, just a short walk from the beach landing, you will find a cave with paintings and large middens. Middens are mounds formed from years of discarded bones, shells and food remnants. Testing of these middens makes it easy for archeologists to date the years of aboriginal occupation.
The Whitsunday Island Ngaro people possessed their own language, culture and art distinct from those of the mainland aboriginal groups. However it is known that the Ngaro maintained contact with the other mainland aboriginal tribes.
The first recorded contact with Europeans occurred in 1770, when Captain Cook sighted two Ngaro aboriginals as he sailed his British Ship the “Endeavour” down through the Whitsunday Passage now part of the greater island group, “ The Cumberland Islands”. The Ngaro presented stiff opposition to colonization and it wasn’t until the 19th century that pastoral leases were granted to settlers of the Whitsunday Islands.