Whitsundays

Inside the rotting ‘ghost resorts’ lying in utter ruin

PHOTO: On the paradise isles dotted inside the Great Barrier Reef are scenes of total devastation.

  • Half of Queensland’s idyllic Great Barrier Reef island resorts have been left derelict and lie rotting in the sun
  • Cyclones and cheap overseas holidays are blamed for trashing the tourist hubs and leaving them unusable
  • Billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart unveiled ambitious $2billion plans to revive Great Keppel Island 
  • But plug was this week pulled on the project which locals hoped would help to rejuvenate the entire region
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On the paradise isles dotted inside the Great Barrier Reef are scenes of total devastation. Abandoned resorts lie rotting in the sun as they are reclaimed by nature.

At least half of Queensland’s island resorts have shut their doors in recent years after a dual battering from cyclones and competition from overseas alternatives, allowing vandals and squatters to move in.

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Now possibly their last hope of salvation has been extinguished after Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart this week unexpectedly pulled the plug on her $2billion plans to revive Great Keppel Island.

South Molle Island (pictured) was at its height in 60s and 70s as a raved about holiday destination but is now covered with collapsed structures, broken glass and scattered wood panels

South Molle Island (pictured) was at its height in 60s and 70s as a raved about holiday destination but is now covered with collapsed structures, broken glass and scattered wood panels

Debris litters what was once a prime tourist dream trip destination on Great Keppel Island

Debris litters what was once a prime tourist dream trip destination on Great Keppel Island

A resort swimming pool on Great Keppel Island is full of stagnant water and used as a drinking hole by feral goats

A resort swimming pool on Great Keppel Island is full of stagnant water and used as a drinking hole by feral goats

Great Keppel Island is a far cry from its glory days with resort grounds overgrown and buildings poorly maintained

Great Keppel Island is a far cry from its glory days with resort grounds overgrown and buildings poorly maintained

Great Keppel Island is returning to nature with resorts strewn with debris and slowly being overgrown by tropical plant life

Great Keppel Island is returning to nature with resorts strewn with debris and slowly being overgrown by tropical plant life

A once-fancy hotel lobby on Great Keppel island lies in ruins with broken glass wall panels and rubble covering the dirty carpet

A once-fancy hotel lobby on Great Keppel island lies in ruins with broken glass wall panels and rubble covering the dirty carpet

It was hoped the ambitious proposal would have rescued not just Keppel but the entire industry and been a catalyst to renovate and rejuvenate the rest of the region.

Instead, the picturesque once-hotspots – which include famous names like Dunk Island, South Molle and Lindeman Island – will again be left to decay and destruction.

Queensland’s tourist slogan of ‘Beautiful one day, perfect the next…’ has been overshadowed by the ironic Keppel Island advert: ‘Get wrecked on Keppel.’

Now locals say it’s time to call it quits, and have told the state government to clean up the mess, give up on the industry and let the islands become wilderness havens.

Queensland's tourist slogan of 'Beautiful one day, perfect the next...' has been overshadowed by the now ironic Great Keppel Island advert: 'Get wrecked on Keppel'

Queensland’s tourist slogan of ‘Beautiful one day, perfect the next…’ has been overshadowed by the now ironic Great Keppel Island advert: ‘Get wrecked on Keppel’

Dunk Island (pictured), once known as a lavish tourist hub, was also badly affected by Cyclone Larry in 2006 and Cyclone Yasi in 2011

Dunk Island (pictured), once known as a lavish tourist hub, was also badly affected by Cyclone Larry in 2006 and Cyclone Yasi in 2011 

‘Dilapidated and abandoned island resorts should be removed, not renovated,’ island resident Elmer Ten-Haken told a Queensland state inquiry into the crisis.

‘The demand from tourists is changing, Late 20th century tourists expect so much more.

‘High standard accommodation, gourmet meals, air-conditioning and Hollywood showers – all of which is incredibly difficult and expensive to provide on an island.’

He said the resorts tried to overcome the logistical problems of running remote island hotels by large-scale developments which relied on high tourist numbers.

‘That model worked for a while,’ said Mr Ten-Haken, a former Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service ranger.

‘The new resorts did attract large numbers of visitors when they were new and fashionable, but there were many problems involved in running them.

‘Most of the big island resorts were a long way from anywhere and, despite the flat calm seas depicted in each and every resort brochure, the reality is quite different.

Great Keppel Island, located off the central Queensland coast, was once a popular tourist destination but has been left partially demolished for over 10 years now (pictured)

Great Keppel Island, located off the central Queensland coast, was once a popular tourist destination but has been left partially demolished for over 10 years now (pictured)

It's far cry from the tourist ad image of the Whitsundays

It’s far cry from the tourist ad image of the Whitsundays

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