Cannonvale, a coastal town, is 20 km north-east of Proserpine and immediately west of Airlie Beach. It was named by Commander George Nares who made a maritime survey of the Whitsunday group of islands in 1864-67 and named a valley observed on the coastline after his assistant ship's surgeon, Richard Cannon. The district was originally known as Cannon Valley as farming spread from Proserpine.

A town of Cannonvale was gazetted in 1913 and a sale of land leases occurred in 1916. In 1930 a post office, 'Deauville', was opened, changing to 'Cannonvale Beach' in 1947. A jetty was built in 1938 for boat cruises to the Whitsunday Islands, and during 1938-58 three jetties were used and discarded after cyclone damage. In the late 1950s development began at Airlie Beach, and the safe anchorage at Shute Harbour (1961) displaced Cannonvale Beach. In any case, access roads to Cannonvale's jetty were rough and uncomfortable in the early postwar years. As Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour grew Cannonvale took on the role of dormitory suburb and commercial centre for the Whitsundays tourist industry. Its population grew more than threefold to nearly 4000 people during 1981-2001.

Cannonvale has a shopping centre, a neighbourhood centre, TAFE, the Whitsunday Christian community school (1999), a primary school (1892), two motels, three caravan parks, a church, a golf course, a swimming pool and an ocean enclosure. The drive-in Centro Whitsunday (2006) has a discount department store, a supermarket and over 30 other outlets.

A 3 hectare site on Parkers Road that was originally approved as a retirement village and aged care centre by the Council was changed by the developer to a 43-lot residential estate in 2013.

Its census populations have been:

Census DatePopulation
1911161
1971317
19811216
19912402
20013935
20064011
20114886

Ray Blackwood, The Whitsunday Islands: an historical dictionary, Rockhampton, Central Queensland University Press, 1997

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