Aussie ‘ghost island’ sells for huge price

 

A once-popular Queensland resort island ravaged by Cyclone Yasi has been sold to an investment group hoping to inject new life into the forgotten paradise.

London-based group Mayfair 101 has bought Dunk Island for nearly $32 million, and promises to bring the area back to its former glory.

South of Cairns, the once picturesque holiday spot was hit hard by Cyclone Larry in 2006 and then virtually wiped out by Cyclone Yasi in 2011. It has sat dormant ever since.

The new island owners, however, are hopeful they can turn things around.

The group is also in talks to purchase part of Mission Beach in the Cassowary Coast Region at a combined price of $180 million, with hopes to transform the combined area into the "tourism mecca of Australia".

They also promise it will provide thousands of jobs.

Mayfair 101's Managing Director James Mawhinney said it was an "honour" to secure the slice of land, adding that the group's vision would be led by a redevelopment of the Dunk Island Resort.

The resort, which once held proud position on the island, has been an eerie sight for 8 years.

The island has been neglected following severe damage to its main resort. Picture: Wesley Monts
The island has been neglected following severe damage to its main resort. Picture: Wesley Monts

The resort was formerly owned by Peter Bond, who bought it for $7.5 million in 2011, shortly after Cyclone Yasi hit in February that same year.

Bond had initially planned to have 40 suites and 40 staff at the resort, but lost the key lease after several construction delays.

Mayfair 101's ambitions are to create "one of the most sought-after island destinations in the Asia-Pacific region," with the resort an international attraction.

"Located between two world-heritage areas, our vision is to create a tourism mecca with Dunk Island becoming one of the most sought-after island destinations in the Asia-Pacific region," James Mawhinney said.

Mayfair 101 have high hopes a redeveloped Dunk Island Resort will attract tourists back to the area. Picture: Elisabeth Champion
Mayfair 101 have high hopes a redeveloped Dunk Island Resort will attract tourists back to the area. Picture: Elisabeth Champion

"Mayfair 101 will be working to revitalise the local economy, support upgrades to local infrastructure and create new local jobs," he added.

Earlier this year, the island featured on an episode of 60 Minutes which visited "eerie resorts" dotted around Queensland.

The program spoke with tour operators and resort owners who lamented the old days, and said making a profit on the island was difficult because of the huge risk involved.

"Dunk Island was the biggest driver of the Mission Beach economy, and since Dunk has closed, it's never really recovered," Sam and Kerri Ann Charlton, owners of Bedarra Island Resort said.

Cyclone Yasi crossed the coast on February 3, 2011 as a Category 5 severe tropical cyclone. It smashed into Mission Beach and Dunk Island carrying winds upwards of 285km/h.

In light of the recent sale of Dunk Island, Cassowary Coast Mayor John Kremastos was hopeful it would bring success back to the local tourism industry.

"We welcome this type of investment into our region, which reinforces this Council's decision to develop a strong local tourism strategy and offer development incentives to drive investment to our region, and in particular, Mission Beach," Mr Kremastos said.


With significant redevelopment to the island's resort, and upgrades to mainland infrastructure, Mayfair 101 predicted it would creating over 10,500 jobs and facilitate over $1.6 billion in investment into the region over the next fifteen years.



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