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History and Culture

Hayman Island has always captured the imagination of adventurers. The dream of finding a great southern land inspired a young man, Captain James Cook, to first chart these waters in 1770. Since then, the dream of escape and adventure has drawn people here.

Commander George Nares gave Hayman its name in honour of Thomas Hayman, his navigator. The two carried out many exploits together, becoming the first to pass through the Suez Canal and completing a dangerous navigation around Antarctica. Hayman must have been grateful to leave the Antarctic behind and instead name an island in the friendlier waters of the Coral Sea.

Edwin Embury, a schoolteacher, dreamer, and amateur scientist established a biological research laboratory on the island in 1933. The abundant wildlife and proximity to the Great Barrier Reef made Hayman Island an ideal base for scientific discovery.

Whitsundays’ fishermen Bob and Bert Hallam established the Great Barrier Reef Game Fish Angling Club in 1935, attracting local and international game fishing enthusiasts who arrived by coastal steamer. One of them was Zane Grey, American novelist, filmmaker and big game fisherman who, like those before him, was captivated by Hayman Island’s unique beauty. Grey planted the first coconut palm on the island and, in 1936, Hayman Island became the idyllic tropical backdrop for his comedy drama, ‘White Death’.

In 1947, Australian aviation pioneer, Reginald Ansett fell in love with Hayman and acquired the island. Work began on the Royal Hayman Hotel, which was opened in 1950 by Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Sir Arthur Fadden in anticipation of a royal visit to Australia, for which Hayman Island was granted a Royal Charter.

Hayman Island soon earned the reputation as Australia’s foremost leisure and honeymoon destination and attracted widespread international recognition. Arrival was by ‘flying boat’ as the majestic Catalina and Sandringham seaplanes were known. The Island contributed to Australian popular culture when the classic television series Barrier Reef began filming in 1969. The show introduced a generation of Australians to the excitement of exploration and underwater adventure. Sylvia Cook and John Fairfax also contributed to Hayman Island’s adventuring history in 1972. The two became the first to row unaided across the Pacific surviving an astonishing 361 days at sea.

By July 1985, a two-year, A$300 million project commenced to transform the island into a true luxury lifestyle destination and in 1987 Hayman was invited to join The Leading Hotels of the World. The resort undertook another significant renovation in 2001 and received many of its modern five-star amenities.

In June 2004, a new vision took shape as Mulpha Australia Limited acquired Hayman, and, in January 2010, after almost six years of careful planning, design and environmental consultations, the final approvals were granted. The initial phase of this strategic plan included revitalisation of the iconic pool and the creation of luxurious Beach Villas designed by internationally acclaimed architect, Kerry Hill and offering unsurpassed interior appointments and uninterrupted beachfront views of the Coral Sea.

In 2013, One&Only Resorts took over management of Hayman on behalf of Mulpha Australia Limited. The property launched on July 1, 2014 as One&Only Hayman Island after extensive development plans were completed.
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