Cannonvale owes much to the pioneers who carved the district out of the wilderness. One such pioneer was James Stanley who came from Belyando near the Clermont, Moray Downs Station – where he had been head stockman for 40 years.

Following the great drought of 1903 his family decided to embark on a journey from Moray Downs to Cannon Valley. It was a mammoth undertaking. To get their stores across a flooded river at Bowen, they secured a tarpaulin and floated them across. Next they had to swim the horses across with the buggy and wagonette attached. The horses fought against the current and were probably only successful because they were able to touch the river bed in places and so regained strength to tackle the remainder of the crossing. In 1903 this journey took the Stanley family about three weeks.

After a well-deserved rest in Bowen, the family took on the final leg of the journey to Cannon Valley. The Cannon Valley land around the “Whitsunday Acres” of today had been opened up for sale. In 1903, James Stanley Snr and his family settled on 2130 acres of mixed flat/mountainous country. The hard work preparing the land began and like other pioneers, they cut the scrub, burned off, fenced and planted their first cane. It must have been a feeling of great satisfaction when, in 1905, their first crop was sent to the Proserpine Central Mill.

In the same year, the family established their homestead, “Bellevue Farm”, which was built from Port Mackay Cedar; it was regarded as the best in the Valley. Today, James Stanley’s great granddaughter, Julieanne O’Connell (nee Stanley), resides in her lovely new home on the same site. This picturesque land is now known as “Whitsunday Acres” and is one of the most beautiful estates in the region.

Two stages have been completed at the foot of the ranges where homes have been built in elevated positions. Residential properties have been established that are considered prestige properties designed to a high standard including award winning homes created by Chris Beckingham. Some of the most desirable homes in the region are located in Whitsunday Acres.