Makepeace Island is set in the middle of the Noosa River just upstream from Tewantin and is only accessible by boat or, if you’re Richard Branson, by helicopter. Its namesake, Hannah Makepeace, lived there from 1924 until 1973 when she died soon after her eighty-ninth birthday. Known as quite the character with a youthful spirit well into her eighties, Miss Makepeace would row her boat almost daily to the mainland to collect her mail and pick up groceries, apparently carting her goods back in a suitcase.
Makepeace Island’s first recorded owners were Mr and Mrs Charles Nicholas, colonial settlers from Hobart. In 1911, the Nicholas’ built a unique classic Queenslander style home with open verandahs to take advantage of the Noosa River views. At the time the heart-shaped isle was less romantically known as Pig Island, as it was used as a quarantine station for pigs.
Hannah Makepeace moved from Ipswich to the island in 1924 to work as housekeeper for the Nicholases. She later inherited the island from her long-term employer, apparently as a thank you for her hard work. In 2001, author Sally De Dear published a fictional story for young adults, ‘The House on Pig Island’, using Miss Makepeace’ name and character.
In the front of her book De Dear notes, “I never met her but her name was often mentioned by school friends and I remember how fascinated I was that such an old lady could live by herself on an island and row her boat to Tewantin every day. I remember kids telling me that her house was like a museum and thus the seed of a story was germinated.”
Miss Makepeace died in 1973 and is honoured with a display at Noosa Museum in Pomona. Having no children, her island went to the State. It was bought in the early 1980s by internationally-acclaimed artist Brian Spencer who lived there with his wife Beverley for 17 years, capturing the natural beauty of his surrounds – dawns, sunsets, pelicans, kookaburras and lorikeets – in his dynamic, spirited paintings.
In 2003 the 23-acre island was purchased by Virgin tycoon Richard Branson and co-owners as a luxury eco-tourism retreat for Virgin staff and select guests. The island is off-limits to the public, which only adds to its mystique as it enjoys yet another life.
Source: Salt Magazine