Welcome to the bountiful history of Cardwell and district.
The oldest white settlement in Australia’s far north east, Cardwell was proclaimed as Port Hinchinbrook more than 150 years ago.
The first landing party sailed north from Port Denison (Bowen) and raised the Union Jack on the beach of Rockingham Bay on Friday, January 22, 1864.
Nestled between Australia’s Great Dividing Range and the mountainous splendour of Hinchinbrook Island, Cardwell is a seaside town caressed by natural beauty that has inspired and soothed the soul for generations.
The emblematic flame tree (the flower of which is depicted at the top of each main page on this website) grows naturally on hillsides and in surrounding valleys: a vivid symbol of an unbroken link with an ancient era when Aboriginal people were the sole occupiers of these lush warm lands.
Direct descendants of those ancestral occupiers, the Girramay people still live locally, and Cardwell is home to the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation which represents nine different tribal groups over a vast surrounding area.
Cardwell today has a small population and quiet rural lifestyle that disguises its energetic and enterprising history. During the 19th century, grazing, meat production and export, dairying, gold mining, telegraphic communications, timber cutting, fishing, sugar plantations, general farming and shipping drove its economy.
You can explore the story of Cardwell and District through this website: its initial promise as jewel on the frontier of the vast British Empire, and the early influence of Europeans in its destiny.
You can view videos here now, or purchase our publications online to read at your leisure. Our store of archives is in development and currently very small, but they are accessible here where you will also find links to other archives or organisations through which you may also research Cardwell district history.
If you visit Cardwell you can inspect our exhibitions in the J. C. Hubinger Museum, which is part of an historic precinct in the centre of Cardwell on Australia’s national highway along the seafront.