Green Island History

Green Island has an amazing history! Even though Green Island is a very small island, it has played an important role in the history of Tropical North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef region.

When on Green Island, take some time to visit the colourful Interpretive Boardwalk. Designed in 6 languages, it showcases the island's European and Aboriginal histories as well as its outstanding natural values.

Significant Dates

Pre 1770 Local Aboriginal tribes (Gungandji and Mandingalbay) used Green Island and its reef for fishing, hunting, and manhood initiation ceremonies.
1770 Captain Cook first marked Green Island on the navigational charts and named it after the astronomer onboard, Charles Green.
1857 A bech-de-mer (sea cucumber) smoking station was established on Green Island. It was operated by a fisherman called JSV Mein, and operated for several decades before closing down.
1863 A ship called the ‘Antagonist’ shipwrecked on Green Island reef while carrying horses to India (14 May 1863).
  • Coconuts were planted to provide shelter, food and drink for shipwrecked sailors.
  • Grass hut accommodation was constructed for fishing and hunting parties.
1890 The first organised pleasure cruises to Green Island commenced on a local coaster called ‘Zeus’.
  • Green Island was declared a Recreational Reserve under the Cairns Council.
  • The first public jetty was constructed.
1924 Hayles commenced fortnightly passenger service from Cairns to Green Island.
1930 Kitty & Noel Monkman, pioneers in underwater photography and videography, moved to Green Island. During WW II they acted as volunteer air observers.
1931 The replacement jetty was constructed by Cairns Town Council.
1932 Cairns Town Council was granted a license to remove coral from the Green Island reef flat to make lime for mainland cane fields (operated until 1945).
1934 Green Island declared a Fauna Sanctuary
1936 Management control of Green Island changed from Cairns Town Council to the Queensland State.
  • Green Island was declared a National Park.
  • World’s first glassbottom boat launched.
  • Research facility built (now Dept. of Primary Industry Research Laboratory).
  • Hayles was granted the first 20-year lease to develop a hotel with tourism activities
1939 First groyne was built to protect the foreshore.
1942 The first hotel, Coral Cay Hotel, was constructed by Hayles.
1946 Jetty was reconstructed after being destroyed by cyclone.
1954 World’s first underwater observatory opened.
1958 Island camping permits no longer issued.
1960 Present jetty constructed.
1961 Great Barrier Reef Theatre constructed.
1963 Redeveloped hotel, the Green Island Reef Resort, opens.
1964 Crocodile Farm opens – the first ever on an island. Renamed Marineland Melanesia in 1972
  • Queen Elizabeth II visits Green Island on her 44th birthday – as part of her tour that followed in Captain Cook’s footsteps.
  • Sandbag retaining wall built near jetty to protect resort land from erosion.
1974 Green Island Reef declared a Marine National Park by the Queensland Government.
1978 Seaplane access to Green Island permitted.
1981 Green Island Reef zoned a Marine National Park ‘B’ with a Buffer Zone under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act (extending 500m out from edge of reef).
1982 Daily fast catamaran service from Cairns commenced by Hayles Pty Ltd.
1988 Dreamworld Corporation purchased Green Island Reef Resort and ferry services from Hayles Pty Ltd and renamed the company Great Adventures.
1989 Green Island Reef Resort closed due to disrepair.
1991 Daikyo Pty Ltd purchased the resort and ferry service on Green Island from Dreamworld Corporation
1992 Redevelopment of Green Island Resort and day facilities commenced.
1993 Redeveloped day facilities opened to the public.
1994 The Green Island Resort luxury accommodation opened.
2001 Green Island Resort desalination plant operational – producing over 55,000 litres of freshwater daily.
2005 Quicksilver Connections acquires Great Adventures and Green Island Resort from Daikyo Pty Ltd.
2006 Inaugural Great Adventures Green Island Ocean Swim.
2012 Unable to be restored and structurally unsound, the pioneering Underwater Observatory was decommissioned & closed to public.
2012 14 November 2012, visitors from around the world converge on Green Island to witness a once in 200 year Total Solar Eclipse in the region.
2017, 2019 The Resort goes “Solar” in 2017 with more renewable energy installed in 2019 to supplement power generation.