Lady Elliot Island was sighted and named in 1816 by Captain Thomas Stewart. The island covers 42 hectares and is almost totally surrounded by coral reef.
Commercial mining of guano from 1863 to 1873 devastated Lady Elliot Island's landscape to such an extent that official research could not identify what the original vegetation was. The introduction of goats by the miners, compounded the destruction of the vegetation.
The aircraft runway was built in 1969 and the first day tours commenced. 1969 also marked the beginning of the regeneration of the island's vegetation.
In 1979, Lady Elliot Island was integrated into the Capricornia Section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The first lighthouse erected on Lady Elliot Island in 1866, was blown over by a cyclone in 1872. In 1873, a cast iron and wood lighthouse was built and served as an important navigation aid to shipping for 122 years. The lighthouse still stands and is registered with the National Estate along with three lighthouse cottages built in 1892.
Sourced from: http://mar.coastnet.net.au/~ladyelliot/history.html