The name Noosa came from the Aboriginal word meaning "shadows" or "shade". This is most probably a reference to the relief the tall forests of the area offered from the sun. The Kabi tribe had been visiting the Noosa area for 40, 000 years before Europeans first arrived in the 1800s. The tribe lived as the mouth of the Noosa River to the north, Redcliffe to the south and Cooroy and Nambour to the west. The region was a sacred retreat used by Aborigines for celebrations such as the annual Bunya nut festival.
In 1828, David Bracefell was the first white man to visit the area. Nicknamed Wandi, he had a reputation for regularly escaping his bondage at Moreton Bay and trekking north to Noosa. The Europeans arrived throughout the 19th century to log the area, with the first timber cutters arriving circa 1865.
Andrew Petrie and Henry Russell guided their whale boat up the Noosa River in search of timber and sheep grazing country in 1842. These men became some of the first white settlers to explore the region thoroughly. Later that century, with the prospect of finding gold nearby Gympie, settlers began finding their way to Noosa - this time as holiday makers.
These photos show you the Noosa Shire in the early years. Click on thumbnail to enlarge the photo. If you'd like to see more historical photos of the area please come see us at the museum. All photos are available for purchase.