Great Keppel Island

17 white stunning beaches hug the island of GKI which is the largest of the 18 islands in the Keppel Group. 47km in circumference and located at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Central Coast Queensland, the island is only 15 km from the Capricornia Coast and the local town of Yeppoon. Great Keppel is known for her landscape, walking trails, deserted beaches, native wildlife and turquoise water. GKI is beautiful, peaceful and simply breathtaking.

Great Keppel Island forms part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage, which was inscribed in 1981 for all four of the natural criteria specified in the World Heritage Convention criteria. 

Being the largest coral reef ecosystem on the planet, the Great Barrier Reef is protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the GBR is a matter of national environmental significance.

The resort has had a famous reputation, which has lingered on for decades. ‘Get Wrecked’ & ‘Forget the Rest’ has allowed party goers and families from all over the world to remember GKI forever however, sadly the resort has been closed since March 12th 2008.

Tower Holdings bought the resort in 2006 and all staff were given 13 days notice in 2008 stating that the resort was to be rebuilt.

In 1958, a local family from Emu Park built a small resort on leasehold land. Allan Morris wrote about his life on the island with his family in his book “My Island in the Sun” the resort was called Silver Sands.

It was later sold to TAA in 1974 and upgraded. It was only 6 years later when TAA introduced the “GET WRECKED” theme.

The early 1990’s was another time for change and it was handed over to Qantas – Australian Resorts who also owned Brampton, Lizard, Dunk, and Bedarra Bay Islands.

Building and refurbishment continued throughout the Qantas ownership and it was the island with a vibe on the East Coast of Australia with the well known GKI resort theme song “Forget the Rest” performed by Sydney based band The Enormous Horns.

In May 1998, Qantas sold the GKI resort to Bevan Whittaker and Ron Hancock. They operated it until they leased it to the Accor Group who then enlisted Contiki to operate the resort, with Mecure Hotels coming on board until the sale date in 2006. 

Sydney property developer Terry Agnew bought the GKI Resort and his company Tower Holdings operated the resort until March 12th 2008. The property remains closed and in a derelict state. 

Tower Holdings proposal in 2007 included three 5 star resorts, two 18 hole golf courses, a 500 berth marina & ferry terminal at Putney Beach, a retail village, 2600 town houses and apartments with a 2km airport to run across the island. 

The Queensland Government rejected this plan.

Tower Holdings revised the plan and submitted for a second application in 2009 and the QLD State Government listed it as a ‘significant project’ however it was rejected by Federal Environmental Minister Peter Garrett.

A third proposal was submitted and approved and with 96 conditions. This plan was scaled down to the development of 3.5 per cent of the island for infrastructure compared to the 8 per cent, which was intended in the beginning.

The redevelopment will feature:

250-room hotel

750 eco tourism villas

300 eco tourism apartments

250-berth marina

Ferry terminal

Yacht club

Retail village

18-hole championship golf course

Lot 21 – 575 hectare environmental park


Ferry Terminal and Marina will be developed here on Putney Beach. 

Our Concerns 

Acknowledgement and consultation with the Traditional Owners has not been followed through and there are concerns of development on sacred ground.


The ill-proposed marina and ferry terminal would be built on one of the shallowest beaches and requires dredging. Adjacent to the proposed marina is Passage Rocks, which has a high coral diversity (40 different species) and will be under threat if the marina is built. 

The increased boat traffic, which the proposal involves, is risky because of the long-term pollution from oils, anti fouling paints, rubbish disposal, sullage and organic matter disposal, all of which are all associated with human marine activities. 

Vulnerability assessments have been completed to identify the habitats, which will be under threat: 




Coral Reefs

            Lagoon floors and open water      

         Seagrass meadows

 (primary food source for Dugongs and green Turtles)

Our understanding of the above heightens our thoughts in regards to supporting an ecosystem, which will thrive through climate change. By its very nature, the proposed design of the development encloses ecosystems which may then become isolated and strangled.

Can we afford to disturb and jeopardize the quality of water by the proposed dredging and ongoing maintenance that such a proposal would require?

Putney Beach. Captain Cook noted that the passage adjacent to Putney was much to shallow to pass through as you see above and below.

LOT 21

By modifying its composition, and substantially damaging important and significant habitat, the proposed Golf course on Lot 21 will increase the stress on the ecosystem. Lot 21 is the haven to much wildlife on Great Keppel Island and insitu conservation of important and significant biological diversity is threatened by the proposed development. If it were to proceed, the over large development would result in permanent damage and degradation of the diverse characteristics of the island flora and fauna and have a negative flow on effect on the adjacent marine environment as well.

What do we want? 

We would like the Traditional Owners recognised and their land given back to them. 

We would like a new resort built on the original footprint.

We would like all sacred ground protected and native title restored to Lot 21.

We would like Tower Holdings to clean up the mess. 

 Memories of GKI Resort

Great Keppel Island