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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

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