Hamilton Island could be up for sale with $1 billion price tag


Hamilton Island has been in the safe hands of the Oatley family for 20 years. Now, they say, they’re exploring “opportunities for growth and future prosperity”.  

It has been 20 years since the late billionaire patriarch of the Oatley family, Bob Oatley, infamously took over a then dated Hamilton Island and meticulously breathed new life into the now-luxury tourism destination. However, after pouring some $700 million into the Queensland island, Bob’s family say it is time to pass it on to new owners.

Since purchasing the island for $200 million in 2003, one of the family’s largest investments was the $100 million development of qualia – a world-class, five-star luxury resort on the northernmost point of the island, which opened in 2007. They spent more than $85 million on the development of the Yacht Club and Villas and around $45 million on an 18-hole championship golf course, designed by golfer Peter Thomson, constructed on neighbouring Dent Island.

The asking price for the island, while not confirmed by the family, has been widely reported to be around the $1-billion mark.

A Hamilton Island spokesperson told Forbes Australia that the Oatley family has been “a proud steward of Hamilton Island for 20 years and has invested significant time, affection and resources to deliver its vision for a world class tourism destination on the Great Barrier Reef”.  

Carol and Sandy Oatley at the Guillaume Brahimi Dinner at Pebble Beach 2023 | Image: Lean Timms

“As it looks to the future, the family has put in place a new leadership and approach and is conducting a review with the assistance of its advisors, to explore opportunities for growth and future prosperity.  

“At this stage this review is ongoing and no decisions have been made,” the spokesperson said.

Running an island is expensive business. Every year the Oatley’s spend approximately $16 million on capital expenditure for the maintenance of roads, utilities and infrastructure.

Since the Oatley family took the reins, Hamilton Island has almost doubled annual visitor numbers from around 70,000 to 130,000 and increased average occupancy from around 70% to more than 90%.

A big part of what drew Bob Oatley to Hamilton Island was its iconic Race Week and his love of sailing. The family are the owners of one of the country’s best known Supermaxi, Wild Oats X1 and every year they are heavily involved in Race Week events.

Just a few weeks ago more than 2,000 sailors, celebrities and high-profile business leaders ascended on Hamilton Island for Race Week, including Sandy and Carol Oatley.

World-class luxury resort qualia on Hamilton Island has attracted numerous celebrity guests, from Oprah Winfrey to Julia Roberts and George Clooney | Source: Lean Timms

Until its review has been completed, the Oatleys will remain tight lipped on the future of Hamilton Island.

“We do not intend to comment further until any recommendations have been considered,” the spokesperson told Forbes Australia.

Look back on the week that was with hand-picked articles from Australia and around the world. Sign up to the Forbes Australia newsletter here or become a member here.

More from Forbes