Whitsunday, a vacation spot that used to be popular and was devastated by cyclones in 2017 and 2011, is up for a second chance.
According to a report, the Whitsunday Regional Council unanimously approved Hook Island Eco Resort’s development application at a meeting this week. This will bring back tourism to the island for the first time since it was abandoned.
Hook Island has been closed to visitors since 2013. However, they will return when a resort that combines camping, glamping, and cabins is built.
In the report, Neil McGaffin, director of development services at the council, stated that the area’s plan to build a facility that “foster cultural appreciation, conservation, and understanding” was a positive move.
He said, “It’s an incredible opportunity to do something different in the Whitsundays accommodation arena.”
“The idea is to basically live among those environmental values, without leaving a huge footprint on the ground.
The eco-resort can accommodate up to 280 people, including overnight visitors and staff living in temporary tents and permanent structures.
The majority of the structures will be located around the island‘s main beach, but there will also be a few hubs in the vicinity of Stingray Bay or other areas of the island, the report said.
Tash Wheeler, Tourism Whitsundays CEO, stated that nothing is similar to the current planned development on any Whitsunday island.
She said, “If you take a look at the island accommodation options that we have currently, they’re all quite distinct.”
“And adding that next level to the eco-experience will be an entirely new offering once again, attract repeat visitors, and also appeal to a new audience.
“There is a tremendous appetite for it, not only here in Australia, but all over the globe, so we need to keep our eyes on that throughout this lockdown.”
Hook Island was designated a National Park by the Department of Agriculture in 1936. It was also made a popular tourist destination by opening the Hook Island Underwater Observatory in 1969.
In 2010, the observatory was shut down, and Cyclone Anthony struck the island in 2011.
According to the report, the resort has not operated since February 2013, and Cyclone Debbie further damaged the island in 2017.
McGaffin stated that potential weather conditions were considered in the new resort’s design.
He said, “We are in cyclonic areas, so we have to accept that.”
“But it was designed to be able to cater for extreme weather events so they can more or lesser pack it up and protect all their assets,” he said in the report.