Arial shot of a hilly tropical island surrounded by water

Booming domestic tourism leads to another tropical Queensland island being bought up by an Australian developer

Australian investors with deep pockets are snapping up derelict Queensland islands, raising optimism in the tourism industry that they will return to their former glory.

The latest island to be signed is Lindeman Island near Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays.

CBRE Hotels national director Wayne Bunz brokered the sale and said contracts had been exchanged, with completion expected in early 2023.

But Mr. Bunz was reluctant to reveal the identity of the buyer or the sale price.

“I am pleased to report that it has been sold to an Australian owner, but due to client confidentiality we cannot reveal the name of the new owner,” he said.

Lindeman Island was once home to a Club Med resort, but it has sat fallow since being bought by Chinese developer White Horse with big promises of a $580 million revitalization that came to nothing.

Annie Cannon-Brookes bought Dunk Island in July, whose resort was destroyed by Cyclone Yasi in 2011.(Supplied: JLL Hotels and Hospitality)

A return of trust

The Lindeman deal follows a series of island sales to Australian rich-listers over the past two years.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive officer Brett Fraser said it shows a return of confidence in Queensland tourism.

“These types of assets are challenging and the fact that we’ve seen change of ownership on these islands is positive,” he said.

“Island resorts across Queensland have been the cornerstone of the tourism industry for decades, so bringing them back to market for customers is a great idea.”

Australians invest

Annie Cannon-Brookes, wife of tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, bought the ailing Dunk Island off Mission Beach in far north Queensland in July.

A large island with green trees surrounded by crystal blue water
Glenn Piper bought Hook Island in May, which was severely damaged by cyclones in 2011 and 2017. (Supplied: Tourism Whitsundays)

The former 160-room Dunk Island resort, which previously had a 9-hole golf course, restaurants, tennis courts and a day spa, was leveled by Cyclone Yasi in 2011.

A string of sales had slumped on the island, including in 2020 after the ailing Mayfair 101 group bought them in 2019.

A spokeswoman for Ms Cannon-Brookes said she bought the land “with the intention of preserving its natural beauty for years to come”.

Sydney developer Glenn Piper bought cyclone-hit Hook Island in the Whitsundays in May, while in May 2021 a New South Wales hotel group snapped up another Whitsunday gem, Long Island.

Back to “former glory”

Other recent sales include the purchase of Lizard Island by mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and the purchase of Elysian Retreat on Long Island by Sydney venture capitalist Shayne Smyth.

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