SNUBBED: Brampton owner ignores mayor, council
WHILE the owners of Brampton Island splash millions on other properties and developments, the former jewel in Mackay's crown is falling further into disrepair. The owners have snubbed correspondence from Mackay Regional Council, which has not heard from the island's leaseholder in more than 18 months.
In its heyday, Brampton Island was the region's booming tourism mecca, catering to international visitors, Australian celebrities and day trippers from Mackay.
For the past nine years, the resort has sat idle and in disrepair in the hands of Brampton Enterprises Pty Ltd, a company owned by United Petroleum co-founders Avi Silver and Eddie Hirsch.
Brampton Enterprises purchased the lease in June 2010 for $5.9 million before promptly closing the resort.
More recently the leasehold has been valued at $20 million.
In a letter to trade partners sent on February 25, 2011 the Brampton Island Marketing Office said the resort would close sometime after April 2011 and "undergo a major upgrade program" which would "lift facilities to world class standards".
Mayor Greg Williamson said, to the council's knowledge, no work had ever commenced on the island.
The existing council-approved development application for a seven-star resort on Brampton Island is valid until July 8, 2023.
The last correspondence between the leaseholders of Brampton Island and Mackay Regional Council was in August 2018 when Cr Williamson wrote to them, highlighting that redevelopment opportunities for Brampton would be supported by State Government funding and the Mackay region's resurgent economy and tourism industry.
Brampton Enterprises did not respond.
"From our perspective it is really hard to generate activity when it is privately owned," Cr Williamson said.
"If they don't want to engage with us I guess they don't have to. But they've had this resort since 2011 and they've closed and there has been absolutely no action again.
"The longer it stays unattended, the deeper the pockets of anyone who wants to to take it over (will have to be). That is a real issue for one of the most picturesque islands in the Whitsundays."
Since Cr Williamson last reached out to the owners, a case manager tasked with assisting Great Barrier Reef Island resort owners, operators and developers with engagement between relevant parties has been appointed.
A Department of, Tourism and Industry Development spokesman said the Queensland Governmet established the case managers' network in April 2019.
"Each island resort was provided with a dedicated point of contact within the Queensland Government to support them in addressing new and existing challenges and to help develop new opportunities," the spokesman said.
The spokesman said the owners of the Brampton Island tourism lease had engaged with their appointed case manager, but had not applied for any resort rejuvenation funding.
Mackay Tourism general manager Tas Webber said returning the island to its former glory would be a huge drawcard to attract visitors to the region.
Despite wanting to see the island open and accessible to visitors, Mr Webber said Mackay Tourism's hands were tied and the key group was not able to lobby the owners for action.
"We work with programs that are ready to go," he said.
"When they're not being utilised, there is not much an organisation like ours can do."
Brampton Enterprises has not spoken to the media about why it purchased the island or why it has been left to sit empty for close to a decade. The company did not respond to further calls for comment.
With multimillion-dollar business and private transactions and State Government resort restoration cash going begging, money alone appears not to be an issue.
After almost a decade of ownership and abandonment, the question now is whether the current owner will turn around the former holiday haven.
Mayor Greg Williamson does not think so.
"I really don't hold out much hope. Beggars the imagination as to why they bought it," the long-time local said.