Great! It’s Keppel

Anyone else remember the best advertising campaign for an Australian resort island – Get Wrecked on Great Keppel? Sadly the resort is no longer operating, a salutory reminder that Australian tourism is not the driving force it used to be.

24 years ago, with my brand new private pilot licence, I landed on Great Keppel Island in a Piper Tomahawk. (For those of you who think a Dash 8 is a light aircraft let me assure you a Tomahawk is the real thing as it only has 2 seats, no flushing loo and definitely no cabin crew!)

Being the old mother hen of our aviation course, and the only one married, I took GW with me. For reasons that made sense at the time he had to travel with Garth in his Piper Warrior – one step up towards the Dash 8 as it had 4 seats.  GW, happy to be cabin crew, took along a bag of sweets to feed his crew. Inadvertently he drove the lads crazy leaning between the seats. Every time he sat forward they had to retrim the centre of gravity of the aircraft. Garth was far too polite to say anything so GW was none the wiser!

Eight years after that visit I returned to Great Keppel in a Twin Otter, flying out of Rockhampton with Sunstate Airlines, the forerunner of Qantaslink. It was kind of nice to be crew on one of the ‘The Otters’ I’d watched in awe last time I’d flown there.

Fifteen years after that I’ve arrived by boat and GW resisted the temptation to feed me sweets as we motored in. It’s a little sad to see the resort deserted and the beach strewn with storm debris. Great Keppel reminds me of an ageing rock star who’s given one too many parties and now finds themselves alone and hung over, wondering if a face lift will bring new friends. The natural beauty is still there for anyone who cares to look. The waters are crystal clear and the turtles friendly. The sand is white, clean and soft, the waves gentle.

Perhaps our resorts don’t need to mimic what’s so cheaply available in South East Asia. Maybe we should be celebrating our wonderful environment and the beauty that lies in the simple majesty of the landscape. Nothing beats a sunset over water.


9 thoughts on “Great! It’s Keppel

  1. I didn’t know the resort was shut. Loved the sunset. Just gorgeous. I’m glad the weather has improved a bit for you.

  2. Catherine, I think it’s been bought and there are plans to refurbish it properly but I suspect the high Aussie dollar and its effect on domestic tourism isn’t helping…

  3. Sharon, it’s been ‘under renovations’ for some time. I think there are other private houses for rent of the island but for now the resort is closed…

  4. Brett, sadly the military are playing war games in and around Port Clinton so it’s closed until late April… Hence we have a big day trying to make it to Pearl Bay. Really wishing we’d shelled out more money for a spinnaker or a parasail… All this broad reaching is getting us nowhere 🙂

  5. Wow, I didn’t know that Great Keppel resort was no longer. I visited there for a day trip back in the late 90’s and found the island beautiful and the water much better that was on the coast of Emu Park and Yeppoon. I must admit that I didn’t use the resort facilities enough to comment.

    I am really enjoying following your travels!! I hope the wind has died down a bit today!

  6. That’s what the sea should look like for an overnight anchorage. I’m guessing your heading up towards Port Clinton next? Another nice spot. The forecast looks like it is much improved from tomorrow afternoon for you and may it be good for the rest of the trip. In some ways It is sad to see the Keppel resort deserted but its nicer to visit as a boatie.

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