It’s gorgeous, it’s warm, and it floats in the Coral Sea like a green jewel. Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays has all those attributes you might expect from a Queensland island idyll – a kaleidoscope of coral, pristine white beaches, and waters beyond the dreams of blue. But there are a few things you might not have heard about this Great Barrier Reef gem ...
1. It’s A Wedding Mecca
Each year Hamilton Island hosts about 500 wedding ceremonies, from elopements to extravagant affairs with hundreds of guests. And with an average temperature of around 27C, you can have your wedding in winter and still enjoy balmy weather.
There’s no shortage of beauty spots in which to hold the ceremony, from the quaint All Saints Chapel to gorgeous Catseye Beach, the stunning One Tree Hill lookout, and the ritzy Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Or you could fly off to nearby Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island – and polish your wedding rings in the 98 per cent white silica sand while you’re there.
2. It’s Heaven For Yachties
Hamilton Island is owned by the Oatley family, of Wild Oats fame. The late Aussie winemaker Bob Oatley, who established the Rosemount winery in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley, also owned the eight-time Sydney to Hobart-winning 100-foot supermaxi.
Little wonder, then, that the island’s showcase event is the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, which has been going for more than 30 years and is a fixture on the international racing calendar. Hamilton Island Yacht Club was an early contender for the 2017 America’s Cup but has since withdrawn from the challenge. Hamilton Island Marina contains 251 berths, with an annual occupancy of 83 per cent.
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3. It’s Crawling With Celebrities
The luxury resort qualia has attracted A-listers including Taylor Swift (who reportedly rented the entire resort and had media expelled from the island), Oprah Winfrey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom. Long before the Hollywood elite set foot on Hamilton’s white sands, Beatles guitarist George Harrison sought to escape the screaming hordes by building his own private getaway, called Letsbeavenue, on the island. And at least two films have been made on location – 1994’s Muriel’s Wedding, where Hamilton stood in for Hibiscus Island, and 2008’s Fool’s Gold.
4. The Golf Course Is On Its Own Island
Hamilton Island Golf Club is actually on nearby Dent Island, a 10-minute ferry ride away. The 18-hole, par 71 championship course was designed by legendary Aussie golfer Peter Thomson – a five-time British Open winner - and is said to be one of the most challenging in the world.
It spans spectacular ridges and steep valleys and provides stunning, 360-degree views of the surrounding Whitsunday Islands and the Coral Sea. And when your golfing day is done, kick back on the balcony of the Clubhouse for seasonal produce and unending views.
5. Buggies Rule The Road
In keeping with the golf theme, the primary mode of transport on Hamilton Island is the golf buggy. You can take a self-drive tour, or hire a buggy to get from A to B, although some accommodation includes a buggy. A driver’s licence is required, and booking ahead is advisable. There are very few cars on the island but there is a free shuttle bus if you prefer to leave the driving to others.