Introducing Queensland’s Luxury Islands
Here’s five things you need to know about these six luxury islands…
Bedarra Island: An Elegant Refuge
10km from Mission Beach, Tropical North Queensland
With only ten guest villas nestled into thick rainforest, Bedarra Island – thought to be named after the local Aboriginal term Biagurra, which means “the place of endless water” – is one of Queensland’s most private luxury island retreats.
1. Bedarra is a sanctuary for natural encounters from self-guided walks through the island’s 45 hectares of rainforest, to exploring the island’s beaches and fringing reefs by kayak, and day trips to snorkel the outer Great Barrier Reef.
2. From fund manager to island caretaker: It took just 18 months for Sam Charlton to fall in love with Bedarra Island while living there with his family as an 11-year-old boy. During that time, he explored the nooks, boulders and rainforest, crannies of the island, often under the watchful eye of the other island inhabitant and resident artist, the late Noel Wood. Despite a career that took him into the cut-throat world of fund management (with Macquarie Bank), Charlton never forgot what he described as a “magical place.” In 2011, his career took a twist when he and his wife purchased Bedarra Island Resort for less than $5 million after Cyclone Yasi ripped through it. It was a risk that paid off and a venture that allows the Charlton’s own children to share a similar life.
3. Bedarra, a colourful, bohemian island, is a place of inspiration. In 1936, Noel Wood, a charismatic modernist landscapist in the fauvist school, moved to Bedarra chasing his dream of “a place with a warm climate, where one could live for approximately nothing and solve one’s own problems in paint and colour.” Mirroring the original Beachcomber, Edmund Banfield, who lived on neighbouring Dunk Island a century before him, Wood, lived on and off for 50 years in a beach shack hidden behind a coconut grove, at times inspiring other artists like John Busst and Helen Wiltshire to also stay on Bedarra Island. Today, guests visit Bedarra Island Resort for similar reasons – to retreat to a tropical island far from their worries and stresses.
4. Eco-luxury at its smartest: Bedarra Island uses solar power instead of diesel generators, smart design to allow for breezeways rather than air conditioners, and water from a natural spring only recently re-discovered by Sam Charlton after recalling its location from his childhood adventures.
5. From underprivileged to privileged: In 1934, the then owner of Bedarra Island, Captain Henry Allason, sold the property to a London syndicate with plans to transform it into a home for underprivileged boys. The plans never eventuated, and today, Bedarra is far from a haven for less fortunate. Twenty privileged guests can indulge in the serenity of this island refuge.
Haggerstone Island: An adventure with Australia’s Swiss Family
600km north of Cairns, Tropical North Queensland
Haggerstone Island is Australia’s answer to a Swiss Family Robinson tale. Here, rugged luxury on a remote island in the Great Barrier Reef transports guests to a place that turns fictional paradise into reality.
1. A life pared back: no phones, no schedules, no stresses. Just two modern-day Robinsons and a maximum of twelve guests, all hundreds of miles from civilisation. This is the ultimate mindfulness journey for travellers wanting to clear their mind of endless to-do lists and worldly aspirations.
2. Love at first sight: Anna Turner first spotted Haggerstone Island as an 18-year-old while on an expedition to discover sunken treasure with her filmmaker father, John Heyer. Stepping ashore on their return journey to the mainland in 1977, John took a photo of Anna walking along the beach that she holds close to her heart to this day. Anna never imagined she would return to Haggerstone eight years later to carve out a life and raise a family on an uninhabited island, 40 minutes flight from the nearest
3. In 1985, Anna and her then-boyfriend Roy Turner piled timber, provisions, chicken, fruit trees and a tractor onto a barge and cast away from the mainland. They, and their children, spent six years building their Haggerstone Island home as guests experience it today.
4. Ocean to Plate: All meals are prepared from fresh produce either grown on the island or caught at sea. Guests can join Roy on his daily forage for lobster, coral trout and mud crabs.
5. The island is renowned for its daily adventure expeditions like spearfishing, exploring sand dunes at Shellbourne Bay, snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and waterfall hopping via helicopter.
Lizard Island: Great Barrier Reef Repose
240km off the coast of Cairns, Tropical North Queensland
One of three true coral cay resorts in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, Lizard Island is known for luxurious suites surrounded by a colourful underwater world that fans out from its powdery white beaches.
1. Surrounded by narrow fringing reefs that rise steeply from depths of 20m, guests can plunge straight from the beach into Tiffany Blue waters and snorkel over stunning coral gardens. Equally, they can join an excursion to the edge of the continental shelf, some 20km away as well as the Cod Hole, considered one of the world’s best dive sites, where gentle giants of the fish world, like 30kg potato cods and large Maori wrasses, waltz with scuba divers.
2. Lizard Island’s 24 private beaches lure those seeking true escapism, offering plenty of room to spread out a picnic blanket, gourmet hamper and champagne. With only 40 suites and villas on the island, that’s almost one beach per couple.
3. The island’s Healthy Lifestyle Package combines wellness treatments, guided nature walks, and yoga and meditation classes with a daily gourmet menu specifically
designed to suit guest’s individual preferences.
4. Twice a week, guests can tour the Lizard Island Research Station. Manned by Dr Lyle Vail and Dr Anne Hoggett who have spent over 25 years living on the island, the station is internationally renowned as a major contributor to coral reef research with over 100 projects conducted at the station annually.
5. Learn, explore and care: To dive a little deeper into the world of coral and to understand the current challenges facing the Great Barrier Reef, Lizard Island will host a series of reef expeditions featuring scientists from the Australian Museum, allowing guests to explore parts of the reef that have never been accessed by the public.
Makepeace Island: A Billionaire’s Treasure Trove
10km from Noosa Heads, Sunshine Coast
The heart-shaped world of Makepeace Island in the middle of the Noosa River is a luxury escape filled with equal parts seclusion and cosmopolitan chic.
1. Owned by Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Australia Co-Founder Brett Godfrey, Makepeace Island offers the privacy and luxury one might expect from an island refuge but is topped with the kind of comfort that comes with a holiday at a (billionaire) friend’s home.
2. The island is more home than hotel, filled with a collection of the owners’ favourite treasures: from bathtubs carved out of volcanic rock to runway lights lining the pool (a nod to the island’s airline ties) and open-aired Balinese and Javanese buildings that were purchased in Bali, dismantled and placed in no less than 130 shipping containers before making their way to Australia and up the Noosa River.
3. Previously known as Pig Island, the island was re-named after Hannah Makepeace, the island’s loyal housekeeper who inherited the island from her employer, Charles Nicholas.
4. Makepeace Island comes with a two-storey Balinese wantilan where guests can laze on handcrafted teak day beds overlooking the Noosa River, a four-bedroom guesthouse and several two-bedroom villas. There’s also a boathouse, a large lagoon pool, 15-person spa, tennis courts and an outdoor cinema.
5. It’s a refuge without remoteness. Makepeace Island is only a 15-minute gentle boat ride away from Noosa Marina and the fashion boutiques and Chef-Hatted restaurants of the seaside town of Noosa.
Orpheus Island: A Luxury (Family) Getaway
80km north of Townsville
Just like the namesake Greek legend, the 14-cabinOrpheus will charm ‘all living things’ with endless cerulean blues, Michelin-star worthy dinners and
an unforgettable Great Barrier Reef experience.
1. Orpheus Island is a haven for snorkelers and divers who loathe the crowds. The island’s local dive sites are home to over1,100 of the 1,500 species of fish on the reef, 340of the 359 varieties of hard corals and some of the region’s largest collections of soft corals. A highlight is the Clam Gardens, a remnant of an abandoned science experiment that once set out to farm molluscs and repletes the oceans affected by illegal harvesting.
2. A tour with a difference: Guests can learn more about the Great Barrier Reef by touring the island’s marine research station, operated by James Cook University.Meanwhile, Tom Martin, a local indigenous guide and Orpheus Island’s own gardener, takes guests on a deeply personal tour that retraces the history of his family’s struggles on neighbouring Fantome Island, a secret leper colony for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians run by Franciscan Missionary nuns from 1939 to 1973. “I grew up on this island; my dad used to bring me over camping and fishing and spearing. I’d love to share this place with the world. (It’s) part of a lost history that should never be forgotten.”
3. Families welcome: True to the Greek mythology, Orpheus Island welcomes ‘all living things’, carefully charming families and honeymooners at opposite ends of the resort.
4. Upon arrival (strictly by helicopter only), Head Chef Daniel Main will meet with guests to talk about their meal preferences before designing a menu to suit each guest’s choice.
5. In August 2017, Chris Hemsworth, his wife Elsa and their friends celebrated the Aussie actor’s 34th birthday with a luxury getaway to Orpheus Island which he called “one of the best weekends ever”.
qualia on Hamilton Island: Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef
Hamilton Island, Great Barrier Reef, The Whitsundays
If luxury were served on a silver platter, qualia would be the main course, laid out on a bed of world-class experiences and garnished with jaw-dropping views of the Whitsunday Islands.
1. Since its inception in 2007, the word qualia has become synonymous with Australian luxury. The resort has won over fifty awards and accolades for consistently setting the benchmark in global luxury travel for understated elegance and exceeding guest expectations. Ten years on and in 2017, qualia continues to take out the top gongs being named Best Australian Romantic Property by Luxury Travel Magazine.
2. The world’s best are at qualia’s doorstep with the soft silica sands of Whitehaven Beach and the natural wonder of the Great Barrier Reef easily accessible via helicopter, yacht or sea plane.
3. qualia’s secluded yet central location on Hamilton Island means guests can relax in the privacy of their own villa on a breathtaking promontory facing the striking waters of the Whitsundays, or opt to explore the island’s restaurants, cafes, galleries and shops.
4. Top blanc de blanc with bleu en bleu: The climate-controlled 30-metre-long infinity pool at Pebble Beach has rolling views over the Coral Sea and beautifully frames Whitsunday Island, making it the perfect spot for a laid-back poolside lunch or swim.
5. In 2017, qualia became the first commercial operator of a Palm Beach Motor Yacht, available for guest charter with the exquisite yachts generally reserved for a few select owners.