Golf in Australia


Windward Pavilions
Windward Pavilions at qualia have private plunge pools.

Hamilton Island is a top vacation spot close to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, with several resorts and shallow beaches for relaxing.

Directly across from the island’s marina is Dent Island, which has been developed as the Hamilton Island Golf Club, a par-71, 18-hole course with top views of the surrounding Whitsunday Islands.

There are no hotels or villas on the island, and the only resident is the local lighthouse-keeper. The whole island is dedicated just to golf—the only championship island golf course in the country, in fact.

Designer Peter Thomson created the course as a series of holes along the island’s natural hills and valleys, creating unique gameplay with plenty of challenges. The course measures 6,692 yards and has two distinct nine-hole circuits returning to a central clubhouse with views over the water and Hamilton Island. The outward nine holes are a more compact layout around the center of the island, and the inward nine are strung out along the ridges to the south.

Because the course takes up the whole island, there is plenty of room for players to spread out, so golfers can take their time to admire the scenery while they swing. The par-3 fourth-hole green, for example, is right on a ridge with great views of Long Island and the mainland in the background. The par-4 13th hole is at the highest point on the island and offers 360-degree views.

And, of course, there’s the Chris Beckingham-designed clubhouse, which has views of Passage Peak and the Coral Sea from its terraces. The clubhouse also has a restaurant and bar—a great option if the on-course refreshment cart isn’t enough. It has a pro shop and locker rooms for both women and men.

Where to Stay

Since there are no hotels or accommodations on Dent Island, golfers will probably stay on Hamilton Island, which has several hotels and resorts. The most luxe option is qualia, a Relais & Châteaux resort on the northern end of the island. Oprah would approve: qualia was the first stop on her heavily publicized Australia tour last year. (And yes, the hotel’s name is spelled with a lowercased “q,” which says something about its cool, laid-back and decidedly barefoot-luxury vibe.)

The heart of the resort is the Long Pavilion, which doubles as a lounge for relaxing and a formal restaurant for fine dining, and has a library attached. (The library is also a game room with a handmade chess set and Hermès playing cards.) Most of Long Pavilion is open to fresh air, creating a soothing ambiance when the breezes blow. Be sure to try the wine bar in the Pavilion for some local specialties, or to sample some single-malt scotches.

For rooms, try the 26 Windward Pavilions, which have huge decks, private plunge pools and top views over the ocean. While all of the pavilions are great, we think the best pick is the Beach House, which gives total privacy and affords great views across the Coral Sea. The house is a great pick for groups or families with teenagers, with a 10-person dining room; a separate guesthouse; and a private, full-size swimming pool.

Good to know: Private butler service can be arranged for any room, and qualia has its own helipad for dramatic entrances and easy access to the surrounding islands.

Dining at qualia focuses on fresh fish and organic ingredients—think Tasmanian salmon, wild abalone and air-cured duck. For something truly special, suggest the tasting menu, which offers seven courses, including dessert.

Spa qualia has just six treatment rooms, so book treatments well in advance (at least two weeks before arrival). For serious relaxation, try the 90-minute signature Kumali Ritual that includes a massage with native herbs and spices dipped in Australian macadamia and sweet almond oil. The chardonnay vinotherapy massage also sounds wonderful.

Hamilton Island Golf Club
Hamilton Island Golf Club is the only championship island golf course in Australia.

Tip: If prime spa time isn’t available, book a treatment at nearby Spa wumurdaylin, which has 11 treatment rooms (with large windows, letting in plenty of natural light as needed or desired), including three couples’ suites. There are also four wet rooms that have either a seven-head Vichy shower or luxury rain shower. Top therapies at wumurdaylin include a LI’TYA Susu Dew (meaning “sea spray”) rhythmic body massage, and we also recommend the rejuvenation treatment, which combines an hour-long massage with a 30-minute facial.

The concierge and activities team at qualia can arrange all sorts of local, exclusive experiences. Popular picks include private excursions to Whitsunday Island’s Whitehaven Beach (accessible only by boat or helicopter) or snorkeling excursions on North and West Henning Island. And for golf fans, the concierge can also arrange transfers (by helicopter!) and priority tee times on Dent Island. E-mail the team at [email protected]

Leeward Pavilions
Leeward Pavilions at qualia have lots of space and light.

Important: qualia is only open to guests 16 and older, making it ideal for couples and people looking for some real peace and quiet. Luxury advisors should reach out to International Account Manager Odette Smith ([email protected]) with any questions about qualia or spending a day (or more) at the golf club.

Getting There

Hamilton Island is the only island in the Whitsundays with its own commercial airport. Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia all fly directly to Hamilton Island from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Cairns. By boat, Fantasea Adventure Cruising operates regular 30-minute services daily from Shute Harbour (on the mainland).

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