MANY Australian hotel resorts which were once popular with tourists have been left abandoned and rotting after being destroyed by cyclones.
Locals have compared the damage, which has resulted in tourists no longer visiting the islands, in looking like a “crack house” with debris and filth.
More than a dozen of the formerly perfect paradise resorts have been left abandoned after the region’s most fierce cyclones — Yasi and Debbie — tore through in 2011 and 2017.
Other factors, including climate change and cheap overseas travel, conspired to leave these places in disarray.
Pictures and video captured by 60 Minutes show for the first time exactly how far removed the resort islands are from their former glory days.
The program spoke with tour operators and resort owners who lamented the old days.
On South Molle Island, 60 Minutes reporter Charles Wooley was shocked by what he saw with a path of devastation caused by Cyclone Debbie.
Whitsunday resident, Dan Van Blarcom, told the news channel that it looked “like a crack house” due to the severe damage with the pool full of dirt and plastic chairs.
On Lindeman Island where holiday-goers once flocked to Club Med, the bar is abandoned, as are all the rooms while the area is full of broken glass.
The pool — once a bright blue lagoon — is a murky brown colour now. It still looks out on crystal clear waters but the vantage point is muddy and there’s nobody around.
Of about 30 resorts that were packed full of visitors before the two storms hit six years apart, 15 are abandoned.
On Dunk Island, the owner is hoping to sell up for a business opportunity.
Others have managed to survive, though making a profit is difficult and there’s a huge risk involved.
Sam and Kerri Ann Charlton purchased Bedarra just after Cyclone Yasi hit. They told Charles that nothing has been the same since Dunk Island went under.
Sam said: “Dunk Island was the biggest driver of the Mission Beach economy, and since Dunk has closed, it’s never really recovered.”
Kerri-Anne says that while the couple have shared in success, they wish others were experiencing the same.
She said: “Sam and I often get the comment, ‘Oh you must be pleased that there’s not many opening.’”
“But no, we want them open. We want everyone to experience not just the Great Barrier Reef, but what we have to offer.
“Seeing them not open it’s actually just really sad.”
Some of the islands have since been bought, with Great Keppel Island being sold to a Singapore-Taiwanese company for $50 million (£39.9 million), according to the Mail Online.
South Molle Island was bought by Chinese company China Capital Investment Group in 2017, although the damage is yet to be repaired.
Cyclone Yasi crossed the coast on February 3, 2011 as a Category 5 severe tropical cyclone, before smashing into Mission Beach and Dunk Island carrying winds upwards of 285kmph (177mph).
It was the biggest storm in Queensland’s history.
Cyclone Debbie made landfall on March 28, 2017 at the Whitsunday Islands carrying winds upwards of 263kmph (163mph).
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The popular Capricorn International Resort in Yeppoon in Australia is also laying abandoned, having been left for three years to rot.
The Queensland hotel was closed in 2016 after it fell into disrepair, causing it to shut down and be left without guests since then.
This article was originally published on news.com.au and has been reproduced with permission.