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Hamilton Island Yacht Club opens its doors to members and public
13 December 2009; by Rob Mundle

After being ceremonially opened by Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, during Audi Hamilton Race Week in August, the magnificent Hamilton Island Yacht Club has now officially opened its doors to visitors and members.

Designed by renowned Australian architect, Walter Barda, in consultation with famed yachtsman Iain Murray and construction company Parkview, the impressive structure is already being dubbed ‘the Opera House of Queensland.’ Its iconic architectural design is a result of Bob Oatley’s vision to create a building of world-class significance on the island his family company has owned since 2003.

'An amazing and impressive structure:
The new Hamilton Island Yacht Club' Andrea Francolini ©

Housed under a billowing sail-shaped copper roof, the venue promises to be a centre for lifestyle as well as yachting, with first-class dining and leisure facilities. Barda’s clever use of timber and smooth lines carry the yachting theme throughout the building, even down to the beautifully carved hull-shaped door handles in the Bommie Restaurant, the club’s signature dining facility which takes its name from the shallow, isolated and colourful reef patches found in the waters surrounding Hamilton Island. This restaurant, which offers sweeping views of Hamilton Harbour marina and Dent Passage, is open to the public for dinner, lunch and brunch. The impressive menu features contemporary Australian cuisine created from fresh local ingredients.

It was the Horn of Plenty that inspired Barda when it came to the long, open-air deck that extends away from the yacht club to the Bommie Bar, a unique structure which is open to the public every day for light snacks and drinks. This is an especially magical spot when it comes to viewing the famous Whitsunday sunsets.

The neighbouring flag deck hosts a flag mast with an interesting history. Once the mast of maxi yacht, Bumblebee IV – line honours winner of the 1979 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race - it was recovered from the seabed off Sydney after it broke and was jettisoned from the yacht in a particularly challenging race. Since then it has rested unobtrusively in the warehouse of well-known ocean racing skipper, Syd Fisher … until Murray discovered it and realised it would be a fitting addition to the new club, of which he is Commodore.

Yacht Club members have access to an exclusive level of the building, hosting a private restaurant and library. In addition, there is a members’ health club which includes a lap pool running along the lower length of the Horn of Plenty deck. The building also houses extensive conference, function and wedding facilities.

A collection of 35 luxury villas have been built adjacent to the Club as part of the development. Barda’s vision for these four-bedroom villas was to capture an informal ambience and beauty that makes the most of the unique setting of the Dent Passage waterfront. A handful of villas remain for sale with prices starting from $2.8 million. Each villa owner will be granted a Founding Membership to the Yacht Club.

Sandy Oatley, Chairman of Hamilton Island, commented, ‘The Oatley family was originally drawn to Hamilton Island through our passion for sailing, so it seemed fitting for us to recognise the Whitsundays’ reputation as one of the world's great sailing regions by building of this Yacht Club. We expect the creation of the Yacht Club to further cement Hamilton Island’s status as a centre of international boating excellence.’

The opening of the yacht club has coincided with the opening of the Hamilton Island Golf Club on neighbouring Dent Island. This 18-hole championship course is the only course on its own island in Australia and is already proving popular with guests. The development of the Yacht Club, Golf Club and Villas are part of the Oatley family’s ongoing investment in the island. Since 2003 more than $300 million has been spent enhancing the island’s infrastructure and facilities.