Emma Salkild enjoyed escaping the crowds to find her own island on the Great Barrier Reef…

Arriving on Great Keppel Island in Queensland, you may feel as though you’ve stumbled across a private paradise, (sort of like the island in Lost but without the monsters and angry villagers).

It’s a no-frills retreat with only the basics – long white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, colourful coral and fish, sub-tropical climate, palm trees, bushwalks and endless time to laze about in a hammock.

The 14km-long island can be reached by plane or a 30-minute ferry from Yeppoon, 40km from Rockhampton. It’s also part of the Great Barrier Reef, so add snorkelling and diving to your to-do list, along with kayaking, waterskiing, fishing, sailing and wakeboarding. The lack of people and cars on Great Keppel makes it feel as though you’ve been invited to a secret club where the whole island, including the 17 almost-deserted beaches, are waiting to be explored for the first time.

A highlight for me was when some friends and I went on a short bush walk up to the top of the mountain, glancing kookaburras and vibrant parrots along the way, where we watched a gorgeous sunset across the ocean. After travelling the east coast where the sun rises over the ocean and sets in the west, it’s refreshing to watch a sunset over the beautiful tropical waters. Just remember that with Australian sunsets it’s a kind of a blink or
you’ll miss it experience, so plan to get to the top with lots of time.

However, I wonder if this hidden haven is destined to become the next big party island? With a $1.5 billion “revitalisation” proposal on the agenda, it may only be a matter of time before Keppel gets a makeover.

Published in TNT Downunder Magazine online and in print on June 13, 2011


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