Whitsundays witnesses $250 million building boom
… confidence in region remains strong
The Whitsundays currently has industrial, commercial and residential projects worth over $250 million
under construction – and 2006 is likely to see a further $550 million building explosion. “The
Whitsundays is experiencing exponential growth – particularly in Airlie Beach and Cannonvale – and the
growth curve still has a long way to go,” said PRDnationwide Whitsunday principal Christie Leet.
“Confidence in the region has never been higher, with Airlie Beach witnessing annual price increases for
apartments of between 16 and 18 per cent per annum over the last three years.
“In September alone our agency saw five development sites in the Airlie Beach area go under contract
for a total of $40 million to developers wanting to get a slice of the Whitsundays action.
“Fourteen industrial sites at Lascorp’s new Whitsunday Business Park in Cannonvale (price range
$270,000 - $453,000) went under contract in one day in September following their release to the
market. These sites realised an average of $185 per square metre, up $85% from $100 per square
metre from previous sales of industrial sites.
“Our agency also saw 19 blocks of land at Conway Views (Jubilee Pocket) go under contract for less
than $200,000 each within five working days, proving that the Whitsundays is still an affordable lifestyle
“Our research indicates that we’re unlikely to see any slowdown in building activity in the foreseeable
future. We have projects worth an estimated $250 million coming out of the ground at the moment with
developments worth approximately $550 million likely to see some action next year.
“We’ve certainly come a long way in the past few years – our records show that the year 1997
witnessed just $7 million in construction commencements.
“The only blip on the radar screen is a shortage of builders and sub-contractors - we just do not have
enough workers to satisfy demand.
“The implications of this construction boom for the local Whitsunday economy are extremely positive,
with excellent prospects for employment bringing yet more families to the area.
“The flow-on effect of this economic activity is increased demand for industrial and commercial property,
which has lagged behind residential supply in recent years.
“If we want to continue to attract seachangers to the region we must provide them with a decent
retailing and shopping experience, and this will happen when we see the new big stores such as
Woolworth and Big W open for business.”
A quick look at what’s happening on the property development front in the Whitsundays gives a clear
indication of how the region is shaping up.
Major industrial/commercial developments already at an advanced stage of construction include
Lascorp’s Airlie Beach Marketplace at Cannonvale (clients confirmed: Woolworth/Big W, Mitre 10),
Jubilee Central, at Jubilee Pocket, and 121 at Cannonvale.
Other commercial developments which have achieved substantial sales but are yet to begin construction
include Lascorp’s Whitsunday Business Park and Whitsunday Business Centre, both at Cannonvale.
Probably the biggest single mixed-use project the Whitsundays will witness over the next few years will
be the approved but yet-to-start $360 million Port of Airlie development (Windward A.B. and Meridien
Airlie Beach) comprising retail outlets, ferry terminal, marina and residential accommodation.
Other significant commercial projects approved but yet to start include QTI’s proposed Airlie Central
which will feature a 4-screen cinema, supermarket and other retailers. Another significant project in the
pipeline includes FKP/EBG’s proposed Outrigger Airlie Lagoon Resort development (resort/retail).
In addition to the Port of Airlie project, Shute Harbour Marina Developments is planning a mixed-use
development including marina berths, resort, tavern, retail and residential. Airlie Beach’s existing marina,
Abel Point Marina, has recently been expanded to cater for 350 vessels and has plans to further increase
its number of berths to 500.
Major residential apartment developments under way include Peninsula Airlie Beach (42 units,
Seymour Group/Watpac), Marina Shores, Whisper Bay (51 units, Crosstreet), TIDES on Whisper (10
townhouses, Inya Dreams), DoubleCone, Whitsunday Horizons (46 units, Ulysses), Azure Sea, (40 units,
AMG Property Developments Group), The Grove, Cannonvale (173 units/villas, The Grove Whitsunday
Developments) and Bay Breeze at Cannonvale (92 units)..
Also under construction is The Summit, Airlie Beach (Stage 1: five apartment blocks/49 lots) by a
Other residential apartment projects due to be released to the market include Peppers Coral Coast, Airlie
Beach (92 units/4 houses, Latitude Development Group), Space The Residence, Whisper Bay (24 units,
Space Developments) and Lot 4 at Whisper Bay (Seymour Group/Watpac).
Demand for labour is also high at a number of land sub-divisions which are seeing their first homes
under construction – these include Stonehaven Estate, Whitsunday Horizons (29 lots, DMHP), Satinwood
Estate, Whitsunday Horizons (16 lots, DMHP), Botanica Estate, Cannonvale (20 lots, Botanica
Developments) and Cresthaven, Jubilee Pocket (56 lots, Kunapipi Springs).
Land sub-divisions launched recently include Whitsunday Lakes, Cannonvale (approx 300 lots).
Other land sub-divisions approved but yet to start construction include Mount Whitsunday, Airlie Beach
(46 lots, Reefscape).
Fuelling the demand for building workers are first-time buyers who are unable to find rental
accommodation (the Whitsundays has a zero vacancy rate) and are purchasing blocks of land to build
their own homes.
Plans for an international golf resort with two courses at Cannonvalley have been re-lodged with
Whitsunday Shire Council.
The driving forces behind the Whitsundays building boom are (a) a demand by southerners for a
tropical, coastal lifestyle change, (b) the region’s finite supply of land for development (two-thirds of the
shire consists of protected marine, national and state park) and (c) unprecedented jet air access
(Whitsunday Coast and Hamilton Island airports are now serviced daily by budget airlines Jetstar and
“When you consider these factors it’s not difficult to see that the Whitsundays will continue to be one of
the stand-out property markets in Australia,” said Christie Leet.
“Purchasers who don’t grab a slice of the Whitsundays action now will kick themselves in ten years’ time
when the opportunity to buy into the local lifestyle at a reasonable price will have vanished.”