Hamilton Island (Queensland)

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Hamilton Island
Hamilton Island Marina 2012

Hamilton Island marina, 2012
Aus - Hamilton Island.PNG
Location Queensland, Australia
Coordinates 20°21′S 148°57′E / 20.350°S 148.950°E / -20.350; 148.950
Archipelago Whitsunday Islands
Total islands 74
Area 5 km2 (1.9 sq mi)
State Queensland
LGA Whitsunday Regional Council
Population 1347 [1] (as of 2006)

Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited island of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, Australia. positioned approximately 887 kilometres (551 mi) north of Brisbane and 512 kilometres (318 mi) south of Cairns (by air). It is also the only island in the Great Barrier Reef with its own commercial airport, with short direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns.

Hamilton Island, like most in the Whitsunday group, was formed as sea levels rose creating numerous drowned mountains that are situated close to the east coast of Queensland, Australia. The island is a popular tourist destination and was featured in the successful "Best Job In The World" promotion.

In late August the island plays host to its annual Hamilton Island Race Week yachting festival, in which more than 150 yachts from across Australia and New Zealand gather for a week of races around the islands. However this is only one of many events hosted on the island.

At least two major films have been on location at Hamilton Island, Muriel's Wedding (1994) and Fool's Gold (2008).


The island was purchased in 1975 by Keith Williams and Bryan Bryt, and in 1978 Keith Williams commenced construction of Hamilton Island Harbour and the resort complex shortly after. The resort opened in phases between 1982 and 1984. In 1985, a fire destroyed most of the central portion of the resort complex, which was completely rebuilt by 1986. The current Whitsunday Holiday Apartments opened in 1986 followed by the current Reefview Hotel in 1990. In 1992, the resort was placed in receivership and between 1995 and 2003 it was owned by BT Australia and managed by Holiday Inn for a portion of that time. In 1999, the five-star Beach Club opened.

It was when Keith Williams was in the early stages of the development of his resort that Australian winemaker Bob Oatley was cruising past Hamilton Island aboard a yacht and noted the potential of the island at that time. Many years later in 2003, Bob Oatley and his family purchased Hamilton Island and, following an investment and development programme, they now offer holiday destinations there.


Catseye Beach on Hamilton Island
Passage Peak, the highest point on Hamilton Island

Unlike most islands off the east coast of Australia, Hamilton Island is used almost exclusively for tourism. However the island is catering for a growing number of residents, both employees of the various businesses on the island and also those people choosing to retire and enjoy the lifestyle. The island is on long term lease from the Commonwealth Government by the Oatley family. The Oatleys own and run Hamilton Island Enterprises which operates the majority of accommodation and businesses on the island.[citation needed]

Hamilton Island Airport is the only airport in the Whitsunday Islands that is big enough to cater for larger commercial aircraft. Hamilton Island is also catered for by several ferry services, which can only carry passengers. Mainland motor vehicles are prohibited on the island with the exception of those for tradespeople and island public transport.[citation needed] Private transport needs are mostly served by a fleet of golf buggies, available to tourists for rent and are included as part of some accommodation packages. A public shuttle bus operates on the island serving major points of interests and accommodation sites.

Day trips to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park from Hamilton Island, are provided by Cruise Whitsundays and Explore.

Visitors can catch glimpses of migrating whales as they make their way through the warm waters of the Whitsundays around July–September each year.


Hamilton Island offers visitors a wide range of accommodation from free-standing bungalows to hotel style rooms, beachfront and luxury resorts and self-catering properties.

qualia is the island’s exclusive, award-winning luxury resort, situated on the secluded northernmost tip of Hamilton Island. The resort features 60 freestanding pavilions that are nestled into the surrounding bushland, and exclusive guest facilities including two infinity-edge swimming pools, a library, two restaurants, a private gym and quintessential Australian treatments at Spa qualia.

The Beach Club is the island’s absolute beachfront boutique resort exclusively for adults. All rooms have a private courtyard or balcony looking onto palm-fringed Catseye Beach and the Coral Sea and the resort features its own restaurant and infinity edge pool.

The Reef View Hotel is the largest hotel on the island, offering a choice of garden view rooms, sea view rooms or suites. The Reef View Hotel has many amenities, including a 35-metre swimming pool, the Reef Lounge bar, and in-house Pool Terrace Restaurant, Tours and Activities desk, lobby shop and fully serviced Business Centre.

The tropical, free-standing Palm Bungalows are designed for couples and small families. Surrounded by tropical landscaped gardens and with their own kitchenette’s, the bungalows are within easy access to the island’s main beach and resort pools.

Families and independent holidaymakers wanting a real home from home on Hamilton Island can rent an apartment, unit or luxury holiday home, with more than 100 properties to choose from which are located right across the island. The Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas are nestled alongside the Hamilton Island Yacht Club and with four bedrooms and four bathrooms, provide the ultimate luxury self-catering accommodation for families and groups of friends.


Hamilton Island has more than 60 activities to choose from, with sports, adventures, and experiences for every interest and energy level.

There are cruises to the Great Barrier Reef or nearby Whitehaven Beach, yacht charters and twilight sails, high speed jet boat and catamaran adventures, game fishing, scenic flights, the 18-hole championship Hamilton Island Golf Club and island day spa. There are also action-based activities available on the island including all terrain vehicle tours, target sports, an aquatic golf driving range, kegel bowling centre, plus many water-based activities operating from the island’s main beach, Catseye Beach and the Hamilton Island Marina.

The island also has its own wildlife park, Wild Life Hamilton Island, featuring koalas, wallabies, crocodiles, dingos and more.

More than 70% of Hamilton Island has been preserved as natural bushland, with over 20 kilometres (12 mi) of walking trails for visitors to explore.


Hamilton Island has a range of restaurants located throughout the Hamilton Island Marina and resort side of the island. The island’s fine dining restaurant, Bommie, is located in the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, and other marina side restaurants include Romano’s Italian, Mariners seafood restaurant and Manta Ray Café. On the resort side of the island is the South East Asian coca chu, Sails Steak and Seafood and the Pool Terrace Restaurant. There’s also a choice of takeaway outlets, and bars, including the Marina Tavern and also Bommie Deck at the Hamilton Island Yacht Club.

New developments[edit]

In 2009 there are two key infrastructure and tourism developments completed for the resort. The Hamilton Island Yacht Club was officially opened by (now former) Queensland Premier Anna Bligh during Hamilton Island Race Week[2] and was completed in late 2009,[3] and the Hamilton Island Golf Club is new Championship resort course which opened in August 2009. The 18-hole course on neighbouring Dent Island measures 6120 metres and is billed as the only championship island golf course in Australia.[4]

35th America's Cup Challenge[edit]

October 1, 2013 - The Hamilton Island Yacht Club[5] was confirmed as the "Challenger of Record" for the 35th America's Cup.[6] Only moments after the win by USA team Oracle, Hamilton Island Yacht Club (HIYC) issued its challenge for the 35th America’s Cup.

The HIYC challenge has been accepted by the Golden Gate Yacht Club, which remains the Defender and Trustee of the world’s oldest international sporting trophy.[7] Australian billionaire Bob Oatley was said to be financially backing the Hamilton Island Yacht Club as the Challenger of Record for the 35th America's Cup.[8]

GGYC and HIYC expect to have a Protocol Governing the 35th America’s Cup, including dates, venue, boats and other details, agreed and published in the first few months of 2014.

For three decades HIYC has run the "Audi Hamilton Island Race Week", which has become the largest annual regatta in Australia.

HIYC is led by sailing legend Bob Oatley, whose series of yachts named Wild Oats have dominated ocean racing in Australia for years, including having won six of the last eight Sydney-Hobart races. An Australian team led by Mr. Oatley won the last Admiral’s Cup, widely regarded as the world’s top prize in ocean racing.

The challenge was filed by Mr. Oatley and his son, Sandy, on behalf of HIYC shortly after ORACLE TEAM USA won the thrilling deciding final race in the 34th America’s Cup against Emirates Team New Zealand on San Francisco Bay on September 25.

Annual Sporting Events[edit]

Popular Culture[edit]

Hamilton island was the holiday location in the 1999 movie Sabrina, Down Under, sequel movie of Sabrina Goes to Rome, both movies extending from the popular TV series Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Hamilton Island was the first stop for Oprah Winfrey on her Ultimate Australian Adventure in December 2010. During her stay on Hamilton Island Oprah and 93 of her fans went on an all expenses paid trip from Hamilton Island to the Great Barrier Reef and had a Barbecue reception on Whitehaven Beach hosted by celebrity chef Curtis Stone with entertainment provided by The Ten Tenors.


Hamilton Island has more than 10 ceremony locations and 15 unique reception venues available for weddings and can cater for wedding groups of 2 to 200 guests. The island has its own non-denominational church, the All Saints Chapel, which overlooks Catseye Bay and is just one of the ceremony venues available.

Hamilton Island Weddings is based on Hamilton Island and is a dedicated weddings business with experience in organising and supplying services to hundreds of weddings every year. The service includes sourcing and supplying photography and video, luxury Jaguar limousines, cakes, flowers, hair and makeup and more.


Below contains a listing of Hamilton Island’s awards and accolades that have been received since 2012.


  • qualia - Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2014 – World’s Best Beach Hotels


  • Hamilton Island - Australian Gourmet Traveller 2013 Travel Awards – Best Golf Resort
  • Hamilton Island - Australian Tourism Awards
Business Tourism: Hamilton Island Conferences - Gold
Major Festivals & Events: Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - Bronze
Standard Accommodation: Hamilton Island Palm Bungalows – Bronze
  • qualia - Australian Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards – Best Resort in Australia
  • qualia - HM Awards
Best Resort
Best Hotel Restaurant, Long Pavilion
  • qualia - Australian Gourmet Traveller 2013 Travel Awards – Best Australian Island Resort
  • qualia - Luxury Travel Magazine Gold List – Best Australian Resort
  • qualia - TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards - Most Romantic Hotel in Australia
  • qualia - Quickbeds Annual Survey – Preferred Resort Hotel


  • Hamilton Island - Whitsunday Tourism Awards
Major Festivals and Events: Audi Hamilton Island Race Week
Tourist Attractions: Hamilton Island Golf Club
Business Tourism: Hamilton Island Conference & Incentive Events
Standard Accommodation: Hamilton Island Palm Bungalows
  • Hamilton Island - Queensland Restaurant and Catering Awards for Excellence – Bommie Restaurant
  • Hamilton Island - HM Awards - Hall of Fame – Oatley Family for Hamilton Island
  • qualia - Australian Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards - Best Resort in Australia
  • qualia - HotelsCombined - Top 10 Hotels for 2012
  • qualia - Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards
Best in the World
Best Resort in the Oceania region
  • qualia - World Travel Awards – Australia’s Leading Resort
  • qualia - UK Prestigious Star Awards 2012 – Best Venue Website
  • qualia - HM Awards
Best Resort
Best Spa, Spa qualia
Best Hotel Chef, Alastair Waddell
  • qualia - WISH Magazine’s Travel Top 50 – Best Australian Hotel
  • qualia - UK Condé Nast Traveller Gold List - Best for Leisure Facilities
  • qualia - Luxury Travel magazine Gold List - Best Australian Boutique Property, Villa or Lodge
  • qualia - Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine - Travel Awards
Best Spa
Best Australian Island Resort
  • qualia - TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice List
Luxury Hotel's in Australia
Luxury Hotel's in the South Pacific
Relaxation/Spa Hotels in Australia
Relaxation/Spa Hotels in the South Pacific

Caretaker promotion[edit]

In 2009, Tourism Queensland promoted the Great Barrier Reef as a global tourism destination with a website encouraging people worldwide to apply for "The Best Job In The World:", to be a "Caretaker of the Islands" to "house-sit" the islands of the Great Barrier Reef for half a year, based on Hamilton Island.[9][10][11][12]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 20°21′S 148°57′E / 20.350°S 148.950°E / -20.350; 148.950