Calm waters of Moreton Bay in Manly looking northeast to Darling Point
This part of Moreton Bay was occupied by the Aboriginal Mipirimm people. Their lifestyle was semi-nomadic. Increasing contact with the white settlers brought new diseases to the Aborigines including smallpox and tuberculosis which savaged the indigenous population.
European settlement of the Manly area first took place around 1860. In 1882 land was sold by auction for the Manly Beach Estate, apparently named after Manly, New South Wales beach in Sydney. In 1889 a railway line was opened that provided a direct service to the state capital, Brisbane. By the early 1900s the area had become a popular seaside location.
Manly State School opened on 4 July 1910.
The well sheltered coastal location of Manly has resulted it becoming a popular location for boating. In 1958 Manly Boat Harbour was built. Large tidal walls were constructed to the north and south with dredging being undertaken to deepen the harbour. The silt that was recovered in this process was brought ashore and used in the construction of the parks and parking areas around the harbour.
Manly Boat Harbour is now the largest boat harbour facility in the Southern Hemisphere, with over 3,000 dry standings and wet berths, plus two public boat ramps (one at each end of the harbour).
A number of boating clubs are based in Manly including the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, the Wynnum Manly Yacht Club, the Moreton Bay Trailer Boat Club, and the Darling Point Sailing Squadron (which shares space with the Multi-Hull Club of Australia, and the charity for handicapped people known as Sailability).
Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, Wynnum-Manly Yacht Club and Moreton Bay Trailer Boat Club have floating marinas, dry boat storage facilities and boat maintenance yards for use by members. There is one commercial marina in the harbour, East Coast Marina, also offering floating berths, undercover boat storage and a boat maintenance yard.
Brisbane Coast Guard (a Flotilla of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association) also has its Flotilla Base in Manly Boat Harbour, at 40 Trafalgar Street, near the harbour entrance. This Flotilla, the largest in Australia, has the Lord Mayor of Brisbane as its Patron. It was formed in 1972 and continues to operate duty rosters every weekend and public holiday, with its emergency services on call 24/7.