The Bay was originally named "Hervey s Bay" by Captain Cook (in the Admiralty copy of his journal) when he passed there on 21 May 1770, after naval officer The Hon. Augustus Hervey.
Until recent years, Hervey Bay was a string of small townships stretching along the coast. In 1976 the population was only 8,000. Rapid population growth can, in a large part, be attributed to the sea-change phenomenon, with large numbers of retirees seeking a relaxed coastal lifestyle.
Further exploration of the area was not to continue until 1802 when Matthew Flinders landed at Sandy Cape, and in the following months proceeded to map much of the Bay.
Aboriginal people occupied the area before European settlement in 1850, and many streets and landmarks in Hervey Bay have Aboriginal names.
H. E. Aldridge acquired large tracts of land for cattle grazing between Booral and Burrum Heads in the 1850s.
The first settler at Hervey Bay, in 1863, was Martin Boyle, who probably introduced sugar farming to the area where two sugar mills were established.
The region was rich in mineral resources including coal, limestone, bismuth, magnetite and mineral sands.
Foreshore residential land was subdivided for holiday homes from the mid-1860s.
In 1896 a railway line was constructed from Maryborough to Pialba, boosting tourism. This line was extended to Urangan in 1913 and the Urangan pier was built in 1917 to facilitate the export of sugar and later coal.
By the 1920s the Hervey Bay area was rapidly expanding due to continuing growth in primary industries (sugar cane, citrus, pineapples, beef cattle, fishing) and investment in transport infrastructure.
Regular air services from Brisbane commenced in 1930.
The 1930s saw the completion of a fully bituminised road connecting Maryborough and Urangan providing further impetus to local growth.
As both population and development continued to increase into the 1950s and 1960s, the coastal townships of Pialba, Scarness, Torquay and Urangan slowly began to merge into a single urban area.
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