Hamilton Island, immediately south of Whitsunday Island in the Whitsunday group, is 25 km south-east of Airlie Beach and 40 km east of Proserpine.
Originally charted in 1866, Hamilton Island was shown as part of Dent Island and the whole named Passage Island, adjoining the Whitsunday Passage. Two years later Hamilton Island was described separately and named, possibly after a crew member of the survey vessel.
During 1898-1920s Hamilton Island was absentee-licensed and used for sheep grazing, and in the ensuing decades there was also some cropping. In the early 1950s the owner of Daydream Island acquired the lease of Hamilton Island and erected holiday cottages, but the venture was unsuccessful. Grazing was resumed until the lease was acquired in 1975 by Keith Williams and Bryan Byrt. Originally acquired for deer breeding, Williams assumed sole ownership of the lease after Byrt's death in 1978 and started planning a major tourist resort for the island.
Williams' Hamilton Island Enterprises secured a perpetual lease over the island and a 75 year lease over part of the seabed on the west side of the island where the harbour was constructed. The total leasehold is about 700 ha. The harbour is close to a jet airfield and to the resort, with a prominent high-rise hotel and condominiums. Opened in stages in 1982 and 1984, the resort also includes eleven restaurants, eight swimming pools, a convention centre catering for up to 1100 people and over 25 specialty shops. A marina with associated marine services, yacht chartering, day-cruise boats and water sport facilities add to the island's employment, and the permanent population is about 1200. There is also a primary school (1986).
The island has two forested summits, the easterly one (Passage Peak) having an elevation of 234 metres. The other includes a native fauna park, a church, and several private villas. Hamilton Island's census populations have been:
Ray Blackwood, The Whitsunday Islands: an historical dictionary, Rockhampton, ;CQU Press, 1997
David Corfelt, The Whitsundays book, Woodhill Mountain, via Berry, NSW, Windward Publications, 1995