In the early 20th century Chinese banana farmers employed Aborigines as labourers in the Tully River region. Opium addiction and conflict with European settlers was resolved by the Queensland government creating an Aboriginal settlement at the present Mission Beach. Superintendent John Martin Kenny started the necessary work on 1 September 1914. There was no mission in the religious sense. The settlement had characteristics of a penal settlement.
The Mission Beach structures were destroyed in the cyclone of 10 March 1918 and were not rebuilt. Superintendent Kenny and his daughter were killed by the storm. The Aborigines were subsequently moved to Palm Island, Queensland.
The first white settlers, the Cutten brothers, came to Mission Beach area in 1882 and settled at Bingil Bay, where they farmed mangoes, bananas, pineapples, coffee, citrus fruit and coconuts. They also manufactured their own coffee. Produce was shipped south on cargo-boats. Before this the only white people to enter this area were the timber-getters who sometimes camped on the beach and retrieved timber from the adjacent rain forests. They employed local Aborigines for their assistance in their timber hauling, paying the Aboriginal labourers with tobacco and tools. The natives were generally friendly, although in 1872 the captain and some of the crew of the Maria which was wrecked at Tam O'Shanter were killed by the natives.
After the Cutten brothers, the Unsworths settled at Narragon Beach, the Garners came and settled at Garners Beach, and the Porter brothers settled at what the locals refer to as Porter's Creek (also called Wongaling Creek) at the south end of North Mission Beach.