The Lutheran Church originally established the community in 1886 as the Cape Bedford Mission at Elim Beach.

During World War II the military interned the German Lutheran missionaries and the population evacuated to southern communities such as Woorabinda.

More than 28 deaths were recorded from disease after the evacuation. Over the next 8 years more than a quarter of the population died. In September 1949 Hope Vale was re-established as a Lutheran Mission and the first families returned in 1950.

Due to a lack of reliable water supplies at Elim, the community moved to its current site about 20 km inland.
In 1986 the community became the first to receive a Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) and formed the Hope Vale Aboriginal Council.

Hope Vale is a pilot site for the Cape York Welfare Reform project.

Chronology of Events of the Guugu Yimithirr People- Hope Vale:

  • The Guugu Yimithirr people like all Aborigines in Australia have been here for approximately 100,000 years.
  • The Guugu Yimithirr first came to prominence in 1770 when they engaged with Captain James Cook and his crew on the good ship Endeavour. As is well known in history the Guugu Yimithirr hosted Captain Cook at present day Cooktown (Gungarr) for 7 weeks. During this time he not only had to repair the Endeavour he also met the Guugu Yimithirr people and engaged in dialogue along with Joseph Banks and Sydney Parkinson. They gathered a word list of the Guugu Yimithirr language and from this encounter the Guugu Yimithirr have been immortalised in the English language by giving the name to that giant hopping marsupial-Gangurru-Kangaroo.
  • Hope Valley Mission was founded in January of 1886 by the Lutheran Missionary John Flierl. He was on his way to establish a mission in New Guinea but was held up in Cooktown and during the idle time he began work amongst the Guugu Yimithirr clans in Cooktown. He established himself as missionary on the Cape Bedford Aboriginal Reserve, choosing a spot on the bay north of Cape Bedford which he called Elim.
  • In 1942 during World War 2 the Guugu Yimithirr people were evacuated from Spring Hill/Jepsons Crossing and eventually arrived in the Aboriginal Reserve west of Rockhampton called Woorabinda.
  • In 1949 the first group of men returned to this present site and began clearing
  • By 1950 all Guugu Yimithirr people had returned to present day Hope Vale and the mission was still administered by the Church.
  • In 1986 the Deed of Grant In Trust (DOGIT) was created-handed over to the Council as Trustees by the then Premier Hon. Johannes Bjelke-Petersen.
  • In 1991 came the State Aboriginal Land Act (May 1991) where the DOGIT had to be transferred to new trustees.
  • In 1994 we hosted then Prime Minister Hon Paul Keating.
  • In December 1997 the first Native Title Determination on mainland Australia was declared by the Federal Court to the Guugu Yimithirr people.
  • In 1999 the Community celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
  • In 2004 the Community Council became a Local Shire under the Local Government Act.
  • In 2005 we hosted then Prime Minister Hon. John Howard.
  • In 2009 Hope Vale celebrated its 60th Anniversary.