The area was settled by pastoralists in 1863 and initially named ‘Salt Creek Cove’. The small town was proclaimed in 1882 under the name of ‘Bligh’, after Captain William Bligh. The town became a small port and a jetty was built in 1880. The port serviced the local farming districts, importing super phosphate fertilisers and exporting locally grown cereal crops. By 1911 the town had grown substantially, with a school, post office, hotel and hall having been established.
The town continued to grow as a port until it was exporting 11,000 tonnes of grain in 1940. In the same year, the town’s name was officially changed to ‘Arno Bay’, after the Aboriginal name for a local sandhill well.
The period of high export came to an end in 1963 when the storage silos were built, and ocean shipping became redundant to the large trucks that were now the main mechanism of transport.
This signalled the end of Arno Bay as a port, causing the population to drop slowly, eventually leading to its current position as a tourist fishing town.