Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited of the Whitsunday Islands (Queensland, Australia). While the Whitsunday Islands group is centered on Whitsunday Island, its commercial center is Hamilton.
The island is also the only one in the Great Barrier Reef with a commercial airport. It serves direct flights from Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne and Sydney. Hamilton is located approx 890 km (550 ml) north of Brisbane and approx 510 km (320 ml) south of Cairns. Like most Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton was formed by the rise of sea levels which created drowned mountains near Queensland's east coast.
The island's population is under 1,500 and covers a total area of just 5 km2 (2 ml2). It is a popular tourist (and cruise ship) travel destination the whole year-round. In late August, here is hosted the annual yachting festival "Hamilton Island Race Week". During the festival, over 250 yachts (mainly from Australia and New Zealand) gather for races around Whitsunday Islands.
An interesting fact is that each year, Hamilton Island hosts around 500 wedding ceremonies. Wedding groups rahge from the minimum 2 up to 200. There are more than 15 reception venues and 10 ceremony locations available on the island and dedicated to weddings. Hamilton has its own non-denominational church (All Saints Chapel) overlooking Catseye Bay, which is one of the ceremony venues available.
Unlike most islands off Australia's east coast, Hamilton is used exclusively for tourism. However, it is currently catering for the growing number of residents and employees of various businesses, as well as for retirees.
Hamilton Island is long-term leased from Commonwealth Government by the Oatley family (bought the Island in 2003 for the price of USD 200 million). The Oatleys run Hamilton Island Enterprises, operating the majority of businesses and accommodation on the island. Bob Oatley's (1928-2016) family owns various businesses, real-estate properties, yachts, the Rosemount winery (Hunter Valley, NSW Australia).
Hamilton Island cruise terminal
Cruise ships to Hamilton Island AU anchor near the boat marina and their passengers are transported to the pier via the ship's tender boats.