Airlie Beach Islands

The Parish of Airlie lies about 30 kilometres to the west of Montrose, and it is possible Shepherd had some association with that area and was influenced by memories of it.

During 1935 it was rumoured in the press (Proserpine Guardian 8 June 1935) that the Earl of Airlie was to succeed Sir Isaac Isaacs as Governor General of Australia, and this also may have played a part. As it happened, the Earl did not become Governor General, the post being taken by Lord Gowrie in 1936.

Another factor which may have influenced Shepherd was that in the Parish of Airlie in Scotland is a Glen Isla, a name that already existed near Proserpine when Shepherd arrived in the area. He obviously was keen on Scottish names for he named his two local properties Montrose and Braemar.

Whatever the reason, the Whitsunday’s ‘Airlie’ undoubtedly comes from the Scottish Airlie. (see below) First waterfront settlers Following the proclamation of the new township, land between Shute Harbour Road and the waterfront was opened for selection. The first sale in January 1936 saw four blocks bought by C. E. Mazlin, F. H. Rogers, J. T. Foxlee and H. E. Foxlee, three at ?45 ($ 90) and one at ?15 ($ 30) (Proserpine Guardian 1 March 1936).

By May a further two blocks had been sold, to S. R. Abell and R. T. Barr (Proserpine Shire Council minutes 14 May 1936). Almost immediately after the name Airlie was adopted and the town of Airlie was born in Lands Department records, the area became known locally as ‘Airlie Beach’, and this name was to become common usage in later years. On 6 April 1959 the residents petitioned for an official post office, which was approved on 9 July 1959 with a request to the residents to suggest a name for it.

On 14 August ‘Airlie Beach’ was put forward and later approved by the Post Master General and the Lands Department. The first postmaster was H. J. Rowe in whose store the post office was located. The application for the post office contained the information that there were eighty-three residences in the area of which fifty-three were permanently occupied; there were sixty-nine permanent adult residents and the area carried mainly fruit and small-crop farming (Historical section, Australia Post).

The Scottish Airlie The Parish of Airlie lies on the northern slope of the valley of Strathmore in the county of Angus. It is tiny, about six miles by four, but nevertheless is quite famous in Scottish history. There is no town of Airlie as such, but there is a series of hamlets with Airlie names, such as Mains of Airlie, Airlie Kirkton, Newton of Airlie and so on. Airlie Castle is the official seat of the Earl of Airlie, the title dating from 1639 when it was granted to the Ogilvy family. The Earl’s younger brother, Angus Ogilvy, is the husband of Princess Alexandra (Forfar Local History Society, Scotland).

*The above History is reproduced by kind permission of Mr. Ray Blackwood from his book The Whitsunday Islands-An Historical Dictionary.

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