The Whitsunday Islands are a collection of continental islands of various sizes off the central coast of Queensland, Australia, situated between just south of Bowen and to the north of Mackay, some 900 kilometres (560 mi) north of Brisbane. The island group is centred on Whitsunday Island, while the group’s commercial centre is Hamilton Island.
The term is a mis-nomer, based as it is on Captain Cook’s naming of what is now known as the Whitsunday Passage (in Cook’s Journal, Whitsunday’s Passage) in the belief that the passage was discovered on Whitsunday whereas, because of an error in time-keeping, it was actually Whit-Monday.
Contention has existed as to exactly what islands are within the informally named Whitsunday Islands, in particular as to the southern extremity and the inclusions to the west. What is certain is that they lie within the chain named Cumberland Isles by Captain Cook (now officially approved as the Cumberland Islands) and a reasonably defined section of that chain and surrounding waters have become known world-wide as The Whitsundays based on a contraction of the Whitsunday Islands designation.
The Whitsunday islands are a popular tourist destination for travellers to Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef with the area being one of the most popular yachting destinations in the Southern Hemisphere. The island received about 700,000 visitors between March 2008 and March 2009
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