Although the islands (at the time it was just one island) were sighted by both Captain James Cook and Matthew Flinders it wasn't until 1827 that the name Stradbroke, after the then Earl of Stradbroke, was given to the island by his son, Captain H. J. Rous, the commander of the HMS Rainbow.
That same year there was a proposal to move the convict settlement in Moreton Bay out to the island. The argument was that mooring was difficult in the bay and that the island would provide better facilities. This was not correct. The settlement, which saw the construction of the historic township of Dunwich, was abandoned in 1831 partly because of the difficulty unloading supplies in rough weather. Hostile local Aborigines and an unsatisfactory water supply compounded the problems.
Stradbroke Island's most famous resident was the late Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal), the highly regarded Aboriginal poet, who was born on North Stradbroke, established the Noonuccal Nughie Education and Cultural Centre on the island, and who has been at the forefront of attempts to curb the large scale sandmining which has occurred.