Friday, August 5, 2011

It looks like Great Keppel got wrecked!

I last visited Great Keppel Island 26 years ago. I only stayed about a week, and don't remember much, but I do remember a pretty and busy island. At the time the tourism slogan ran something along the lines of 'Get wrecked on Great Keppel Island' (one of the beaches is called wreck beach, so I guess it came about through that?)!! Obviously it was before the age of responsible drinking, and I was under-age at the time anyway, so I have no information on how successful that campaign was, but it appears times have changed in more ways than one.

Yesterday we packed our day packs, slathered ourselves in sunscreen, braved the short dinghy ride ashore (travelling into the wind, but miraculously managing to stay dry {thanks to Nick :-}), and set off on an adventure to the other side of the island (in search of an ice-cream and maybe lunch).

We left Leeke's Beach and took the walking track to the nearby lookout. The view from the top was not great, the vegetation blocking most of the view out over Leeke's Beach, but we had managed to get a nice shot from a smaller lookout the previous day, so we weren't too disappointed.

We passed a couple of signs in various states of repair, but all pointing the way to the resort (our carrot on a stick if you will ;-) we bravely trekked on!

A little over an hour later (remembering we did have three small children in it actually felt like a six day foot safari through the Sahara), we came upon the first signs of habitation. Habitation is a term I use loosely! The resort part of the island was a ghost-town!! If I'd seen a big ol' Dharma Initiative emblem painted on the side of the wire enclosed compound...I would not have blinked an eye. I was fully expecting Matthew Fox to come bolting out of the bush with a Polar Bear in hot had that kind of feel about it...very eerie.

I don't know what the story is there, but I am confident in my conclusion that the Great Keppel Island resort on Fisherman's Beach is not currently taking guests, not of the human-kind at any rate. The in-house guests we came across included fruit bats (a colony of which appear to have taken up residence in a big old fig tree on the grounds), and a variety of other skittery, crittery types (and quite possibly Polar Bears ;-).

We eventually found an operational cabin/tent accommodation area at the other end of the beach, and more important to us...a gift shop (which also sold ice cream...HOORAY), and a small bistro serving lunch (double HOORAY). So our island trek had not been in vain. It seems a shame that what was obviously a significant part of the island has been shut down now, but the kids had a lovely time rolling around in the beautiful, fine sand on Fisherman's Beach regardless...

This morning we motor-sailed away from our rather rolly anchorage, arriving at the Keppel Bay Marina in Rosslyn Bay around midday. We are starting to recognise quite a few boats and crews as we move from place to place which is nice, especially when they can offer advice on places to go, things to see, stuff to avoid etc, etc. Some of these people have done this trip several times, and are a fabulous wealth of knowledge, and seem more than happy to answer all my questions too.

I am going to leave you with a picture I just found in my iPhoto catalogue. It is one Nick took while he was out snorkelling with the kids on Lady Musgrave Island. I tell you what, if I'd seen this one before we left, we'd still be there right now! One day they went off in the dinghy to some far-flung corner of the reef, well away from the island proper, and found a beautiful, protected, oasis of aquatic life. This picture looks like it was taken in a crystal-clear aquarium...not on the edge of a reef with a 15 knot sou'easter blowing! I can't wait to get back there!!

Bed time now.


Anonymous said...

What a shame about Great Keppell, I think it was targeting the young and
rowdy in Big Mac's day, they must have moved on too. The Island looks pretty and lovely clean beaches.The reef and fish beautiful, there will be plenty more of that up at the Whitsundays, so hang in there. Luv Mum

Catherine VK4GH said...

The bay at the resort used to be one of the best stops on the coast - they had happy hour when the cruisers gathered together after the day trippers had left. Our kids spent many hours in that round pool in the photo.

Sam said...

Sounds like it would have been a great place to be! A cold drink around the pool would have been lovely...we were all quite hot after our trek across the island. The beaches are still very beautiful. I hope someone buys it and fixes it is a real shame that it has been left the way it is.

Anonymous said...

What a shame, I remember working for Contiki on that island, it was the best year of my life.

Kim M said...

The photo taken of The KGI Resort with the wire fence around it shocked and really saddened me...I worked at the resort for most of 2000..yes it was one memorable year, made some great friends and met my current partner there a few years later when I went back to visit. I spent lots of time walking the tracks and knew all the good beaches, etc...there was always lots going on. The Island is a lovely wilderness, glad to see Great Keppel Island Holidays is still operating, Keppel Haven seems to have suffered...I also feel sad for many at the Resort who'd made the place their permanent home for many years. Hopefully things will improve in a few years.

Unknown said...

Wow what a Horror show! I have so many Great Memories of Sitting at the cocktail Bar Next to that pool, with Family and Friends, I even Took some PADI Lessons in there. I have also seen some sad pictures of the pool at the front of the resort, which was a wonderful place for Sunset pics.. The place had a wild vibe back in the mid 90's and was an awful lot of fun.. We used to go walk off our over-indulgencies on the Island, and Not to forget the Island Legend Challenge, which involved Of all things Sky diving On to Fishermans Beach.. I was last there in 2003, and am very sad to Hear of it's closure.