Inside Aussie billionaire’s Pelorus Island that costs more than $20k a night

Tourists will soon be able to stay on an Australian billionaire’s island on the Great Barrier Reef, starting at $20,000 a night.

Pelorus Island is the northernmost island in the Palms Island group and is a 30-minute helicopter journey from Townsville.

When Chris Morris bought the island in 2017, he said it only had a “little home” for personal use.

But after the Computershare founder convinced the government to let him use the island commercially, he has spent the last two years building a new house with intentions to host international celebrities and other high-profile guests.

news.com.au has been given a first-look at the new property, which is now taking bookings.

The island is only 800 metres north of Orpheus Island, which Mr Morris, who is founder and executive chairman of the Morris Group, bought in 2011. That island has a luxury resort, providing accommodation for up to 28 people across 14 rooms, suites and villas.

But Mr Morris wanted Pelorus Private Island to be different. He took inspiration from the time he spent on superyachts in the Mediterranean.

“I wanted to create the same sort of service level you get on these superyachts because I’m charging a similar amount of money,” he told news.com.au.

“The staff doing it wanted to put numbers on the doors … [but] this is like somebody’s home. I want somebody to come in and it just be like a really glamorous beautiful home and not feel like they’re in a hotel.

“One of the craziest things somebody asked me was, ‘Do we put an iron in every room?’ and I said, ‘When you’re paying that much money you don’t iron your own clothes.’”

Like when staying on a superyacht, all “food and grog” and water “toys” are included.

There is jet skis for exploring the island, a game boat for fishing on the outer reef, and other boats for tours. Pelorus will also “tie in a lot with Orpheus”, which can offer diving tours and has a restaurant.

Again, like a superyacht, Mr Morris says the service and experiences on Pelorus will be customisable.

“What they do on boats, they sit down and say, ‘what do you want to have for dinner for the next couple of days?’ or something like that, and we’ll do it,” he said. “And if we haven’t got it on the island we’ll get it flown in from Townsville.”

Mr Morris actually brought over his own chef from his superyacht in the Mediterranean, whose wife was the senior stewardess, to be the chef and manager on the island.

He said when guests were on the island they’d likely have another “stew” to help clean, make beds and serve drinks, as well as a boat person.

The property has room for six staff members in a separate building at the back.

For guests, there are four suites, accommodating eight people, but there is a fifth room which Mr Morris explained can be for guests who bring their own security guard or maid.

To the critics who say people won’t pay $20,000-plus a night, his response is simple: “they will”.

He said wealthy Australians go overseas for high-end boats and pay $200,000 a week.

“There’s a lot of Australians with a lot of money,” he said.

He also expects to attract overseas celebrities wanting to do something special after their gigs in Australia or even corporates splurging for their senior staff.

“What is unique about this is it is totally secluded and totally private,” he said.

Mr Morris has invested $418 million into his tourism portfolio in north Queensland, but he says “everything’s by chance”.

“I don’t do any five-year plans or anything,” he explained.

“I bought Orpheus and then I had to get people there. They used to have to come across to Palm Island by light planes and we had to pick them up, so then I decided I had to buy a helicopter company, which was Nautilus.”

He said at the time they had one helicopter, but now the business is the biggest helicopter operator in Northern Australia with 47 in total.

“And then the other thing I needed when I had an island, basically you need somewhere to get the stuff delivered in Townsville,” he said. “People can’t deliver to the island obviously.

“So then in 2014 the casino came up and I’ve always loved casinos.”

He bought Jupiters Townsville, now The Ville Resort-Casino, which he describes as the best investment he ever made.

Mr Morris and his family, including his children and grandchildren, will be the first guests at the new house on Pelorus Private Island this Christmas.

Like anything new, Mr Morris said there would probably be a few things to sort out, but the island was now open for bookings.

Fortunately, Tropical Cyclone Jasper missed the island this week.

Back in 2011, Mr Morris said about two weeks before the settlement of Orpheus, Cyclone Yasi “went right over the top of it” but it had luckily escaped with minor damage.

The destructive tropical cyclone had made landfall as a category 5 system.

“I was thinking about it again [this week] because I’m opening Pelorus in two weeks, and I said ‘here comes the cyclone again,’” he said.

He explained: “Orpheus and Pelorus are very lucky because they face west and they’ve got big cliffs behind them.”

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