Journals of Conscious Travel & Lifestyle

Brampton Island – An Abandoned Resort

While sailing around the Whitsunday Islands in 2014 I learned some of the islands were abandoned resorts. I find abandoned places fascinating so was keen to stop by one of the abandoned islands. 

Brampton island isn’t the only abandoned resort; Hinchinbrook, Hook and Lindeman islands have all been left dilapidated too. South Molle island used to be ‘Koala Adventure’  island and the old rooms and infrastructure are still there, but it’s now used as a research facility.

After a few days sailing round other islands we arrived at Brampton Island late afternoon to find one other boat anchored there. Rick who I was sailing with dropped me off the Tender boat near the dilapidated pier. He stayed aboard our catamaran. I walked along some old rickety rail lines which must have trolleyed tourists up to the resort.

A group of guys from the other boat came to have a look round too, and we wandered round the abandoned bar and beach area discussing why it might have been left, and whether there was really a caretaker that lived there, given there was no sign of anyone. There were a few signs warning trespassers to keep away.

The guys went back to their boat and I continued to explore alone. It was really creepy seeing a modern resort just left like it was suddenly abandoned and I felt a bit on edge walking around on my own. The ground was littered with palm fronds and old coconuts, and I was aware one could drop any moment!

It was possible to get into some of the rooms as the doors were open. They were dusty and messy, as though there had been people in them only weeks ago, but a storm has swept in.

Everything was still there in the rooms – beds, TVs, furniture and pictures on the wall.  I even considered tidying up and staying in one of the rooms to have a break from the boat from a night as we’d had rough seas. We had an issue with the mast and it had been keeping me up at night clanging, so the idea of being still for a night was tempting. (first world problems I realise!) They weren’t in the best state though and lugging bedding off the boat would have been effort.

I was scared a coconut could fall from the non-maintained palm trees and fall on my head. They were so high my head would probably crack like a coconut!

Making my way through the foliage outside a block of holiday chalets, I walked straight into a spider web and came face to face with a huge spider. I’m pretty scared of spiders!

I was pretty tense walking round, as I didn’t know what I’d stumble on, literally. Being the only person on an abandoned island is quite a spooky feeling. Rick was anchored too far away to hear if I shouted and if anything happened it would be a while before he would come to find me!

While walking round one of the blocks I smelled a disgusting smell like something dead, and was horrified to come across a huge decaying dead kangaroo.

I should probably have turned back but I was fascinated and kept exploring. I found some sort of sports centre with a gym. Weights and machines were left…an old snail-eaten copy of Men’s Health…medicine balls….

In the reception area tea bags and toiletries were left sitting there. I imagined staff and happy holiday makers chatting, excited about their holiday. ‘Brampton Island’ was written across the glass in fancy writing.

Kangaroos roamed amongst jet skis and other expensive abandoned equipment….at the far edge of the development I even found an old airfield and landing strip for small planes!

I visited Brampton Island for the day while on a slow month-long sailing trip on a 40 foot catamaran from Airlie Beach to Hervey Bay in 2014. We stopped and explored many islands including Lady Musgrave and Percy Island.

By bizarre coincidence a few weeks after visiting the island I met someone at a party in Mackay who knew the people who were going to buy and restore the Brampton Island resort.

I’d be interested to go back to Brampton Island one day when it’s developed. But in some ways it’s more interesting when abandoned!


  1. Ashleigh Hurst

    I visited Brampton Island with my then partner in January 2008. I remember thinking that the brochures of Brampton Island resort made it appear better than the actual resort was when we arrived. Probably one of the reasons it was only open for another three years from then! I have been searching the internet looking for any photos of the islands current state and came across this page. Thank you so much for sharing! It is very interesting but also sad to see the state it has fallen in to.

    • Anna

      Hi Ashleigh, glad you found it interesting, thanks for commenting. That explains it then, what a shame it didn’t live up to the marketing. I hope you had a good trip regardless? I find abandoned places fascinating. I thought it was worth recording 🙂

      • Wayne Greene

        Love the photos. We were there in October 2008 for 10 days. It was looking a little run down than. Can not believe that they just left the TVs and Jet skis just laying around. It was battered by Cyclone Yasi and than by Cyclone Debbie. Just looks like the owners just got up and walked out. I had read that the Queensland Government has been trying to get the owners to clean up but so far no luck. Another reason they closed is that it was cheaper for Australians to go to Fiji and Bali.

        • Anna

          Oh wow, what a shame. I heard someone was redeveloping it a few years back. Would be interested to go back again one day!

      • Callan

        We have recently been over the place is crazy busted now care takers are friendly enough it’s a real shame not sure how to post pictures etc but wow the difference obviously in your pictures to ours given the time difference Etc is crazy… good read enjoyed it

        • Anna

          Oh wow I’d be interested to see your pics if you do post them anywhere let me know! ah interesting to learn there is an actual caretaker. I thought the signs were just to warn people off trashing the place , stealing stuff or staying there. Thanks for the comment Callan!

  2. Pete McLean

    Guys this is mostly the result of Green and Red Tape by Government Agencies. These Resorts thrived in the 60s, 70s and 80s. However more and more Green tape was applied and that combined with companies over capitalising on them spelt their doom. In due course the only resort islands will be for the ultra super rich or mostly owned by the Chinese as future military bases.

    • Anna

      Thanks for the comment Pete, Interesting to hear of the history of the islands, I can imagine them thriving in the past. We also visited Daydream island which is still functioning but a little dated.

  3. Joanne

    I worked on Brampton 1986-1988 loved it so sad to see it like that. I also worked Great Keppel and Dunk all closed its just cheaper for people to go to Bali and other places – people forget spend in Australia and keep the money here 2020 should show them that we need look after our own

    • Anna

      Oh wow, I’d love to see your pics from the early 80s!
      We aimed to see Great Keppel too but didn’t get to it.
      I agree there’s real potential for more sustainable tourism where they make the most of and protect the native flora and fauna. I think some of the islands try to emulate a certain island look by planting non-native palms etc instead of making the most of the unique native plants.

  4. Tom and Flo Schulz

    We first enjoyed this special touch of paradise on our Honeymoon in May 1981. After having visited BI for both our 10th and 25th Anniversary and close to another 25 times, it saddens us deeply, to see what has happened to this beautiful and peaceful place. (Needless to say we would love to be staying there again for our 40th in May) . Over this period we met and became lifetime friends with many of the wonderful and friendly staff. Many of them are also heartbroken about what has happened there.

    Our last visit, which was just a few months before it’s closure, even then, the Resort was being deliberately run down, starved of funding to provide services, staff, amenities and
    activities. Promises by the new owners of redevelopment and a bigger, “better” BI Resort have proven to amount to NOTHING and all that is to show is the run down remnants, a disgraceful memory of this beautiful place.

    The time has long past for action by the Owners to rebuild or sell to someone who will. The Federal and State Governments need to act. The Island must be returned to the People . Let’s not forget that the Island is National Park. The Owners should not expect to be compensated, unless they fully clear and rehabilitate the site .

    Yes we are very sad but also angry that this sad situation continues with no end in sight.!

    Tom and Flo Schulz

    (Self proclaimed “Brampton Tragics “)

    • Anna

      Hi Tom and Flo, amazing to read your Brampton story. Wow, 1981 is before I was born. I would love to see your photos. So nice to hear what a special place it was for you. Let’s hope they restore it one day before it turns to rubble.
      Anna 🙂

  5. david

    hi all i worked on brampton 1996 in the maintenance dept ,got to drive train out to jetty ,best job ever loved the place.

    • Anna

      Sounds like a dream job!

  6. Jane

    I stayed there for my honeymoon in 2006. It was a beautiful place. They would put tubs of water at your room door with hibiscus flowers floating in it to wash the sand off your feet. While you were at dinner they came and tidied your room, replaced the towels again, turned down the bed, chocolates on the bed, closed the curtains, lit an oil burner and put a cd on. I will never forget the experience. So sad to hear it is abandoned.

    • Anna

      It sounds beautiful Jane. I hope you get to go back there one day in it’s former glory and enjoy the incredible nature there.

  7. Suzanne Hemensley

    I was working in the horseshoe bar in 1970. An English man named Allen worked in the kitchen. I can’t remember the name of the girl who greeted visitors at the air strip with her ukulele and sang leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again. She was with Dave who ran the water sports. I am trying to find Allan as he has daughter who is trying to find him. If anyone can help me would be list welcome.

    • Anna

      Amazing memories!

  8. Denise Martin

    I worked on Brampton in its heyday, from 1978 to the end of 1980. It was beautiful place to work and live and I still have friends from that era. We used to spend our days off at a little-known beach which we called Staff Beach … we didn’t tell guests of it’s existence or location. Not long after I left in 1980, one of the female staff members was murdered there by a day tripper, after disclosing its location and her intention to go there later that day. I also worked on Lindeman Island prior to Brampton and it saddens me deeply that these islands were left to rot. Despite comments from a previous correspondent, I am pleased that both islands have remained as Queensland Government National Parks – at least this way they can never be over-developed like Hamilton Island.

    • Anna

      Hey Denise, that is so sad to hear that someone was murdered there!!
      Yes, good that they’re being protected by the govt.

  9. Vince

    Hi, My wife and I were cleaning out the kitchen cupboards and came across our Brampton Island Mug we bought during our 2002 holiday. I said I wonder if that resorts still there and so here I am on your website feeling quite sad that its all gone. We actually had a great time there, daily buffet theme nights , buffet lunches, snorkeling , fish feeding, bush walks, drinks and games with other guests in the evenings, and sparkling blue waters. Even saw a sting ray and turtle swimming close to shore during our walk to the other side of the island. I’m glad I got to visit these Islands before they turned to ruins, also been to Great Keppel which was awesome too. Thanks for sharing the pics here.

    • Anna

      Love that you still have a the mug and great memories 🙂

  10. Kaye Urquhart

    So very sad to see the island so run down. My husband and l met and worked on the island from 97 to 99. Him for 2yrs and myself just under 2 years. He was a chef there and l worked in housekeeping. It was the most fabulous life style you could wish for. We would have Meet and Greet the tourist nights. Staff had their own club room called Tom’s where we would have our social activities. On days off we would walk around the island or take the ferry over to Mackay to do some shopping. I can honestly say it was the best place ld ever worked. I was living the dream. Now so very sad to see it like this.

    • Anna

      Hopefully it will get restored to its former glory one day 🙂

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