South Molle Island

South Molle Island
Accessible island in the Whitsunday Group
Geologically the Whitsunday Islands are all drowned mountains. Prior to the last Ice Age they were connected to the mainland and would have all been prominent mountains in the area. The melting of the polar caps drowned the valleys between the mountains creating a network of 74 islands. The island is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and is controlled by National Parks and Wildlife.

The island was known to the local Aborigines who called it Whyrriba which some sources say meant 'stone axe'. Certainly it appears that mainland Aborigines used to come to the island to quarry the hard stone which they used in their weapons.

The first European to explore the area was Captain James Cook who travelled through the area on his journey up the eastern coast of Australia in 1770. He passed through Whitsunday passage, a narrow channel which lies between the mainland coast, South Molle and Daydream Islands to the west and Dent, Whitsunday, Hook and Hayman Islands to the east, on Sunday 4 June which happened to be Whit Sunday (the seventh Sunday after easter) - hence the name of the area.

In 1815 Lieutenant Charles Jefferys named it Molle Island after Colonel George James Molle who, at the time, was Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales. By the 1840s the name 'Molle' was being used for a number of small islands in the area. There was Molle (now South Molle), North Molle, Mid Molle and West Molle (now Daydream).

Around this time mainland graziers started to use the island for sheep and cattle grazing. By 1883 an official 5 year pastoral lease at £15 per year was taken out by D. Gordon. The island group then passed through numerous hands.

Today South Molle Island boasts facilities for over 600 guests and provides the usual range of Whitsunday activities from golf, tennis and squash to bushwalking, scuba diving, cycling and just lazing on the beaches.

The National Park areas of the island have graded walking trails to facilitate easy access to the more remote areas of the island. The island, which is hilly and has a lot of small bays and inlets, is ideal for walking.

Things to see:

Vital Information About the Island
1. The Island Itself
Location
Approximately 20 minutes from Shute Harbour and 30 minutes by launch from Hamilton Island

Description of the island
420 hectares of National Park. A large and interesting island with good bushwalking and pleasant, secluded beaches. Goat island is joined to South Molle at low tide. The island has a number of prominent hills including Spion Kop (154 metres), The Horn (176 metres), Mount Jeffreys (194 metres) and Lamond Hill (133 metres) all of which offer excellent views over the surrounding waters.

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How do visitors access it?
Via Hamilton Island and a 30 minute launch trip or via Proserpine airport, a bus to Shute Harbour and a 20 minute launch trip

Activities on the island
Bush walking, swimming, snorkelling, golf. There are a number of excellent walks around the island including walks to Oyster Bay (2.5 km from the resort - a rocky mangrove-lined beach characterised by driftwood left by the prevailing winds and tides), Mt Jeffreys (3.5 km from the resort - this is the highest point on the island and the lookout offers 360° views), Spion Kop (3 km from the resort), Lamond Hill (3 km from the resort), Pine Bay, Sandy Bay (4.7 km from the resort - interesting area where coastal sheoaks line the beach), the Hidden Valley and Balancing Rock (1 km from the resort). In total there are 16 km of walks in the National Park. All the tracks are well maintained.

2. Resorts on the Island
History
In 1937 the Bauer family took over the grazing lease on all the Molle Islands except North and West. They were the first people to establish a tourist resort on South Molle. From the late 1930s, with the exception of World War II and 1970 when Cyclone Ada destroyed the resort, the island has been welcoming tourists and holidaymakers. In recent times the resort has changed hands a number of times - Telford Property Trust (1980), Ansett (1986), Jewel Hotel (1992), South Pacific Hotel Corporation (1995) and Tourism Leisure Corporation (1998). It is a resort with enormous potential which seems to have missed out on a major refurbishment in recent years.

How big is it?
200 rooms offering a range of accommodation some on the beach and some on the golf course

Who does it appeal to?
Affordable family packages

Free activities
All non motorised equipment and golf

Other activities
Paraflying, dinghy hire, scuba diving,waterskiing, jet skis and daily trips to the Outer Reef platform.

Eating at the resort
All meals included. The meals are buffet style and are basic and substantial (you can eat as much as you want).

Current Packages
Through the Resort: South Molle Island Resort, PMB 21, Mackay, Queensland 4741. Telephone: toll free 1800 466 444 or check out: http://www.southmolleisland.com.au/

South Molle Island Resort
PMB 21 Mackay 4741
South Molle Island QLD
Telephone: (07) 4946 9433, 1800 075 080
Facsimile: (07) 4946 9580
Rating: ***1/2

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