Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Abandoned Whitsundays resorts ‘left to rot’

Abandoned Whitsundays resorts ‘left to rot’
July 9, 2019

Many of the resorts of the Whitsundays, once a mainstay of Queensland tourism, have been abandoned and left in a state of disarray.

A report into the Whitsunday’s so-called ‘ghost resorts’, broadcast by the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes program on Sunday, advised that of the 30 resorts on and off the coast of Queensland, half are currently closed.

The report noted that some of the once resorts in idyllic tropical locations have been lying dormant for almost a decade with no sign of recovery.

Whitsundays local and yacht skipper Dan Van Blarcom told 60 Minutes reporter Charles Wooley about the state of a resort on South Molle Island, advising “you can really see the devastation here.”

He described the remnants of the resort as resembling “a crack house” with destroyed hotel rooms covered in splintered wood and broken glass.

As featured in an Australasian Leisure Management report last year, South Molle Island has been abandoned since 2017 - when Cyclone Debbie tore through the region and left devastation in its wake.

Despite the island being purchased by a Chinese company shortly after the cyclone, it has been left untouched and in a state of disrepair.

Similarly abandoned, Club Med’s family resort on Lindeman Island has been uninhabited for almost a decade – initially battered by Cyclone Yasi in 2011 and never restored to its former glory.

The growing threat of climate change and international holiday habits have seen buyers and developers reluctant to put money or resources into restoring the Whitsundays.

60 Minutes suggested that Australians are choosing international holidays over local destinations, propelled by cheap airfares to far-flung parts of the world.

Locals and resort owners told 60 Minutes that the Whitsundays has been left to waste away, with Dunk Island - ravished by Cyclone Yasi more than eight years ago – reported as another example. Owner Adam Bond told Wooley he was keen to sell, stating “you have to divorce yourself from emotions sometimes and make hard business decisions.”

Dunk Island was one of the main drivers of the local economy for mainland location Mission Beach. Since Dunk Island closed to the public, Mission Beach has struggled.

Bond added “to pretend islands aren’t potentially fraught assets and difficult businesses to manage would be denying the truth.

“They have challenges… but they also present amazing opportunities.”

Resort owners and locals are desperate for the resorts to be repaired and reopened, hoping a resurgence in the tourism industry will see the Whitsundays again become a premiere holiday destination for Australians and international tourists.

To view the 60 Minutes report ‘Paradise Lost’ go to

Images shows abandoned facilities at South Molle Island in 2018.

Related Articles

3rd July 2019 - Transformed Hayman Island Resort opens after $135 million luxury refurbishment

15th April 2019 - Daydream Island soft opening to boost Whitsunday tourism industry

16th August 2018 - Demolition of decaying Great Keppel Island resort completed

23rd April 2018 - No sign of reopening of cyclone-damaged Queensland island resort

20th April 2018 - Multi-million dollar refurbishment announced for Fitzroy Island Resort

27th September 2017 - Visitors return to the Whitsundays after Cyclone Debbie

28th May 2017 - Great Barrier Reef seagrass recovering from Cyclone Yasi

10th April 2017 - Daydream Island’s $50 million redevelopment brought forward

29th March 2017 - Queensland tourism industry rallies following Cyclone Debbie

22nd August 2016 - Chinese investors snap up Whitsunday island for $25 million

3rd November 2015 - Research project finds Whitsunday Islands littered with rubbish

7th June 2015 - Tired island resorts hurt the appeal of Great Barrier Reef tourism

2nd February 2015 - Chinese investors buy Daydream Island

2nd March 2013 - Great Keppel Island resort redevelopment gets Queensland Government approval

1st February 2011 - Cyclone Yasi Forces Whitsunday Resort Evacuations

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


PulseTec Solutions is a leading provider of software systems and solutions to the health and fitness industry for more than a decade. Our key products and services include ClientConnect studio and…

read more

Access / Fitness / Marketing / Technology / Venues



Digonex is a leading provider of customised dynamic pricing solutions to clients in arts and entertainment, sport, attractions, cultural institutions and retail sectors. Digonex’s technology is…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Sport / Technology / Ticketing



Playrope Aqua-Fun, are the Australian & New Zealand exclusive distributors for Vortex Aquatic Structures International, the world leader in aquatic playgrounds and urban water landscapes.…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Parks / Play / Recreation


HYPOXI Australia Pty Ltd

HYPOXI®  is one of Europe’s most successful health and weight loss studio concepts.  It’s the first weight loss technology to incorporate exercise with advanced vacuum and…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness


Aflex Inflatables

Aflex Inflatables are the leaders for obstacle courses, pool toys, waterparks and land-based watersides and fitness runs. They are industry leaders offering the widest range of pool, lake and beach…

read more

Aquatics / Play / Waterparks


AIS Water

AIS Water, the trading name of Australian Innovative Systems, is a multi-award winning, Australian owned leader in the design, production and supply of commercial and residential chlorine generators…

read more

Aquatics / Safety / Technology


The Retention People Australia

TRP help health clubs, leisure centres and gyms across the globe create happy, loyal members through our user-friendly software which enables effective engagement and the delivery exceptional customer…

read more

Fitness / Marketing / Recreation / Technology / Wellness


Abel Sports

INTRODUCTION Abel Sports is Australia’s leading manufacturer and suppliers of Goal Posts, sports ground safety netting systems and coaches boxes for Stadiums ,Sports Clubs, Councils and…

read more

Recreation / Sport / Venues


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business