Double Island on the Great Barrier Reef littered with rubbish, moldy tents when Benny Wu struck with warning

A Chinese developer has been slapped with a warning after letting a once-pristine Great Barrier Reef island he bought fall into disrepair.

Millionaire Benny Hu and his Wu’s Fortune Island Holding Company hold the lease for Double Island – just off the Queensland coast and about 20 minutes from Cairns – until 2099.

The deal was made in 2012 for $8 million with the understanding that the island would continue to be maintained as a tourist destination.

But concerned officials from the Queensland Government and Cairns Regional Council are preparing to take action against the businessman after their two inspections of the island in 2017 and 2019 found the condition of the pristine land had deteriorated and the resort was largely abandoned.

The Double Island Resort has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair (pictured), prompting a warning to the tenant from the Government

The island (pictured) was once a tourist hotspot located between Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

The island (pictured) was once a tourist hotspot located between Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

A further compliance warning was issued this month, Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart confirmed, The Cairns Post reported.

“The department issued a warning to the tenant requiring them to comply with the terms of their lease, which includes reopening the facilities on the island,” Mr Stewart said.

He said Double Island Resort was one of a number of Great Barrier Reef islands audited in the past two years for compliance with lease conditions.

At the same time as the resort reopens, the lease requires vegetation to be managed, facilities on the island to be maintained in good condition, and mooring facilities to be made available in good condition for public use.

Assistant Tourism Minister and Cairns MP Michael Healy said residents of the region had a right to the island and resort being preserved as a tourist destination.

“The tenant of the Double Island Resort should work to reopen the facilities on the island… This is a fair and reasonable expectation from the people of Cairns.”

A spokesman for Mr Wu said improvement work on the island was being carried out but it would remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future.

“Due to the impact of the pandemic, the improvement plan has encountered obstacles (including) shortage of labor and supply of goods… we aim to complete the improvement plan and then make a further plan according to the market,” the spokeswoman, from Double Island head office, said.

Luxury glamping tents were once a feature but are now derelict (pictured)

Luxury glamping tents were once a feature but are now derelict (pictured)

Wu has a number of investments in North Queensland, including De Brueys Boutique Wines at Mareeba and the Acacia Court Hotel on the Cairns Esplanade, which was earmarked for redevelopment but has not gone ahead.

When the Double Island deal was struck in 2012, Mr Wu said he planned to spend $10 million upgrading the resort to cater to the ‘top end of the market’ among wealthy Chinese holidaymakers and businessmen.

In its heyday, the island was a luxury destination with Polynesian-inspired villas, eco-tourism glamping tents and luxury apartments.

Hollywood A-lister Keanu Reeves rented the island back in 2001 when he was in Australia filming The Matrix and had a gym built especially for him.

Friends star Jennifer Aniston and her then-husband Brad Pitt were his guests when the actor threw a lavish and infamous New Year’s Eve party there.

The party reportedly cost $200,000 (US$150,000) and was also attended by a host of famous faces including Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore and Kiefer Sutherland.

The celebrity party featured a huge New Year’s Eve fireworks display that shocked locals who had no idea the island was packed with Hollywood stars.

But now the resort, which reportedly offers 24 luxury bungalows and facilities for up to 40 guests, is in disrepair.

In its heyday, Double Island Resort was a popular resort in Far North Queensland (pictured)

In its heyday, Double Island Resort was a popular resort in Far North Queensland (pictured)

A visitor to the island, who had paddled there on a kayak with a friend, previously told Daily Mail Australia: ‘Staying there would be more like a “Survivor” challenge than a luxury holiday.’

Safari-style tents intended for eco-friendly “glamping” stays are covered in mold and moss, while debris including fuel containers, washing equipment, dirty towels and abandoned utensils litter the area.

Visitors to the island are warned not to venture inland beyond the point where the tide reaches and told that cameras are in use.

But it is still possible to see a seemingly abandoned home where rainforest plants are beginning to encroach on its once pristine garden; its basin is drained of water, and a bedroom balcony is unsuitable without a railing.

A gym sits abandoned and apparently unused, but appears to be in good condition, although the equipment appears to be dated.

Outdoor dining areas, meant to be where guests enjoy a ‘sublime culinary experience’, are strewn with a mix of vintage furniture.

In contrast, a Cairns mansion that Mr. Wu bought in 2020, amazingly luxurious.

Wu bought a Cairns property (pictured above) for $5.95 million after the mansion spent nearly 12 years on and off the market since 2008

Wu bought a Cairns property (pictured above) for $5.95 million after the mansion spent nearly 12 years on and off the market since 2008

The work of Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio inspired the home, which has five meter high ceilings, 1,441 sq m of living space, four ensuite bedrooms and city views.

“The home itself was built by the current seller and has been their home since construction,” explained Colliers International Cairns director Jay Beattie.

‘The house took two to three years to build from original concept to completion and is one of the largest houses under roof in Cairns and the style of it is very unique.’

It had been in the Knott family, after whom the street is named, since the 7,000 sq m plot was purchased for $190,000 in 1997.

The residence has a grand porte cochere entrance that expands to and entrance hall, a private bar and patio overlooking the rainforest and back lawn.

The palatial Italian-style mansion (pictured above) in Cairns, far north Queensland, was sold to the Hong Kong businessman in 2012

The palatial Italian-style mansion (pictured above) in Cairns, far north Queensland, was sold to the Hong Kong businessman in 2012

The six-bedroom, seven-bathroom home boasts approximately 1,441 square feet of living space (kitchen pictured)

The six-bedroom, seven-bathroom home boasts approximately 1,441 square feet of living space (kitchen pictured)

It also boasts a gymnasium with a private terrace, two wood-paneled offices, a wine cellar, an eight-car underground garage, workshop and a blue mosaic 17 m pool.

A fully self contained guest apartment downstairs provides two further ensuite bedrooms, private lounge and dining room, private balcony and patio.

The mansion also has formal dining areas and several terraces as well as casual and formal lounges, all with breathtaking views of the city.

Wu was involved in mining and is chairman of the private Hong Kong import and export Chang Yuang Group before expanding into property.

Patrice Knott bought the massive 7000 sq m block of land for just $190,000 in 1997 before building the home (pictured)

Patrice Knott bought the massive 7000 sq m block of land for just $190,000 in 1997 before building the home (pictured)

It has uninterrupted views of the Cairns CBD (pictured above) from several terraces and the 17m blue mosaic pool

It has uninterrupted views of the Cairns CBD (pictured above) from several terraces and the 17m blue mosaic pool

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