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New Projects Bring Economic Growth to The Whitsundays


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The Whitsundays has long been recognised as a popular tourism destination. Now, however, it's also making headlines with one of the fastest growing populations in Queensland. Nestled high on the East Coast and showcasing 74 enchanting Islands, the Whitsunday region has some exciting projects in the pipeline and the potential to become the economic powerhouse of North Queensland.

An exquisite wellness retreat Tree of Life is currently waiting on DA Approval. Located on the mainland, the retreat is set to strike the right balance between ‘glamping’ in nature and traditional boutique-style accommodation.

Connecting People and Nature

Ignite Architects worked closely with the developer on the comprehensive master plan. Tree of Life will comprise ten luxurious ocean-view cabanas, eight unique tree houses, an expansive wellness pavilion, and a stunning learning and experience centre.

Due to the exquisite location and the developer's vision of minimising the retreat’s footprint, the design embraces the existing landscape and focuses on biophilic design.

Jobsite ANZ spoke with Jason Marriott, Registered Architect and Director of Ignite Architects about his plans for the retreat. 

"We chose to prefabricate the cabanas offsite to allow for quality control within the factory and also to ensure flexibility around the placement of the cabanas on site. Once built they will be carefully craned into position reducing the impact on the local environment." Marriott is planning for the prefabrication to take place locally at either Mackay or Airlie Beach.

"Tree of Life will be quite unique in the sense of offering skills that guests can take with them and implement into their own lives"

Marriott shared his plans for using rammed earth walls to create screening between the cabanas so that the visitors could enjoy their privacy. The walls will also provide a heavy grounding architectural element to anchor the lightweight structures while remaining aesthetically pleasing. Each cabana will feature transparent ceilings with a floating canvas shade sail.

The open form bathroom will enhance the biophilic tone—it will emulate the feeling of being inside a waterfall. 

All materials chosen for the Tree of Life project will be sustainable as they can be repurposed.

Tree of Life developer Malcolm Dunn is a founder and managing director of Healthy Minds at Work. He's also got the position of adjunct professor/director of coaching and mentoring at the University of Sydney. His extensive background has gained him a reputation as a leading mentor.

The new retreat will provide an unrivalled experience to executives and professionals in need of a supportive, well-balanced retreat due to high levels of stress. 

"Tree of Life will be quite unique in the sense of offering skills that guests can take with them and implement into their own lives," said Marriott.

More Projects on the Horizon

Determined to support the population growth and to create a solid economy, Whitsunday Regional Council has promised capital investment for local projects, such as the Whitsunday Coast Airport, the redevelopment of Shute Harbour, Bowen’s Marine Centre of Excellence and water security for the entire region.

Stage 1 of the Whitsunday Coast Airport terminal expansion project is nearing completion with contractors, Paynter Dixon Queensland.

The construction of the new facility at Shute Harbour is expected to begin this month. Once complete, the harbour will feature a two-floor terminal with views over the water, café facilities, a new car park, new public amenities, landscaping and three finger pontoon jetties, including a designated recreational fishing pontoon.

The Future of Tourism

The Whitsunday Times has reported a million dollar funding boost by Tourism Industry Development. It will see Tourism and Events Queensland working on a joint campaign with Tourism Whitsundays to market the region. The campaign is going to promote the Whitsundays to key tourism markets in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane as well as regional centres throughout Queensland.

The much-anticipated re-opening of two of the Whitsunday Islands is approaching fast. Daydream Island is on track to open in April 2019 after a two-year redevelopment. Hayman Island, on the other hand, plans to open in July 2019 following significant refurbishment after Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

Due to the strength of the local economy, the region’s population is expected to exceed the State’s annual growth rate. By 2037, the resident population is forecasted to reach 50,000, and a visitor population of some 5 million tourists each year.

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