RAY Blackwood came to the Whitsundays to retire with his wife in the tropics. Upon arriving Mr Blackwood became fascinated with the history of the Whitsundays, and found that some local stories were not as accurate as most had assumed.
“The first story I heard was about Matthew Flinders, that he stopped here to repair his boat on an island that is now called Repair Island, but in actual fact that didn’t happen. Flinders didn’t come anywhere near Shute Harbour. It was this that really ignited my pas- sion for finding the real facts of the Whitsundays history,” he said.
Mr Blackwood has spent nearly 30 years researching local history, and published his book Whitsunday Islands a Historical Dictionary in 1997. He released a second edition on CD which has updated accounts and lots of photos.
“I want to get it right. I took no notice of secondary sources and went straight to the primary sources. I’ve searched all over the world libraries and have accumulated about 100 charts of the area, which are now with the Proserpine Historical Museum.”
Re-writing history is no easy task, but for Mr Blackwood, it’s his passion.
Mr Blackwood’s efforts led to him becoming is a life member and patron of the Proserpine Historical Museum.
“I’ve given the copyright of all my work to the museum. They now produce the CDs and sell them.”
Mr Blackwood is turning, 90, and while he may have slowed down his research efforts haven’t, he is always chasing more information.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Local historian Ray Blackwood is celebrating his 90th birthday.