Northumberland Islands

The Northumberland Islands are a scattered island chain off the eastern coast of Queensland, Australia.[1]

Northumberland Islands
Native name:
Nu Tannik Ckelo
Northumberland Islands
Geography
LocationCoral Sea
Coordinates21°30′S 149°40′E
ArchipelagoNorthumberland Isles
Administration
Australia
StateQueensland
Demographics
Population150 (Tourism)

Geography and history

The Northumberland Islands are to the south-east of the city of Mackay roughly between the latitudes 21°S and 22°S. All islands are of the continental type. The island group was named by James Cook during his historic voyage along Australia's eastern seaboard in 1770, after the First Duke of Northumberland, Hugh Percy.[2] Both Cook and Matthew Flinders make note of the island group in their journals, Cook describing them as such:

As soon as we got round the Cape [Cape Townshend] we hauld our wind to the Westward in order to get within the Islands which lay scatter'd up and down in this bay [Shoalwater Bay] in great number, and extend out to Sea as far as we could see from the Masthead; how much farther will hardly be in my power to determine; they are as Various in their height and Circuit as they are numerous.[3]

In 1855, a botany expedition led by naturalist Frederick Strange visited the islands on his ship Vision. Four of the expedition were killed by Aboriginal people at Middle Percy Island. Those killed were Frederick Strange and his assistant Richard Spinks, William Spurling (ship's mate) and Andrew Gittings (ship's cook and steward). Captain Chimmo of the Royal Navy vessel HMS Torch, sailed to the island and conducted an investigation. He decided to take ten of the islanders prisoner. These prisoners, including three women and three children, were sent to Sydney for trial. One child died in custody and the rest were eventually shipped back to Gladstone.[4][5]

The island group is remote, and apart from charter flights to Marble Island they are accessible only by private yacht.

The Northumberland Islands are further subdivided into smaller groups: the Bedwell Group, Beverley Group, Broad Sound Islands, Duke Islands, Flat Isles, Guardfish Cluster and Percy Isles (within the locality The Percy Group). The islands are listed below, with the geographical coordinates of the largest islands given. Only the major islands of each group are listed.

Bedwell Group

Name origin: Staff Commander E. P. Bedwell, surveyor [6]

Beverley Group

Name origin: Unknown [7]

Broad Sound Islands

Name origin: Situated at the mouth of Broad Sound, a vast inlet named by Cook in 1770 [8]

Duke Islands

Western side of Hunter Island looking toward Tynemouth Island (Duke Islands)

Name origin: Unknown [9]

Flat Isles

Name origin: Named by Flinders in 1802 due to their height [10] - Avoid Island is the highest at 33 metres above sea level

Guardfish Cluster

Name origin: Unknown [11]

Percy Isles

A-Frame yacht club on Middle Percy Island (Percy Isles)

Name origin: Named by Flinders in 1802 after the Duke of Northumberland's family name [12]

See also

  • Northumberland Islands National Park

References

  1. "Northumberland Islands – island group in Isaac Region (entry 24762)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  2. "Northumberland Islands (entry 24762)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  3. "Captain Cook's Journal during his first voyage round the world, by James Cook (Chapter8)". Archived from the original on 17 June 2006. Retrieved 3 April 2006.
  4. Rowland, Michael J. (2020). ""By savage hands his steps were stayed! Life and death on the Percy Isles, 1854"". Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland. Archived from the original on 14 May 2021. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  5. Multiple Authors. "Letters to the Colonial Secretary relating to Moreton Bay and Queensland" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 December 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  6. "Bedwell Group (entry 2038)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  7. "Beverley Group (entry 2430)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  8. "Broad Sound (entry 4593)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  9. "Duke Islands (entry 10764)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  10. "Flat Isles (entry 12726)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  11. "Guardfish Cluster (entry 14927)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  12. "Percy Isles (entry 26441)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
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