The Keppel Islands
Just 10km east of Yeppoon, the Keppel Islands are a cluster of 18 islands known for brilliant, castor sugar-like beach sand and rugged, forested hills. Cliffs plunge down into the aquamarine sea, while behind the beaches, vegetation varies from grasslands to dense rainforests. Just far enough offshore from the tidal creeks and river plains of the Capricorn Coast that stir up inshore beaches, when travelling to the Keppels there’s quite a distinct line in the sea where water clarity improves markedly.
Great Keppel was once a sheep station but has long been a popular tourist destination, with safe swimming beaches between reef-strewn headlands one of its obvious attractions. The original Keppel Island Resort is now closed while current lessees Tower Holdings wrangle with authorities, traditional owners the Woppaburra people and locals over appropriate use of the land. In the meantime, overnight lodgings range from campsites to fully self-contained cabins and beach houses dotted along Fishermans, Putney or Svendsens Beaches.
Tiny Pumpkin Island (www.pumpkinisland.com.au) to the north has five self-contained cabins providing a sort of castaway fantasy experience for small groups and families who desire simple well-equipped cabins in an eco-friendly environment. Gas is used for cooking, while 12v electricity is wind or solar generated: leave your power hungry 240v gadgets behind. Beaches, coral reef, craggy headlands and rock pools provide ample diversion.
For campers, there are seven uninhabited islands to choose from within the beautiful Keppel Bay Islands National Park. Campsites are located on Divided, Pelican, Humpy, Middle, Miall, North Keppel and Conical Islands. Some have composting toilets and water; others require campers to take everything in and out, including waste. The main attraction is the opportunity to pitch a tent on rarely visited islands with untouched beaches and gin-clear water, fringing reefs and adventurous walking tracks across hilly islands, all just a short boat ride from the mainland. Scuba junkies whisper of hand-sized Clown Fish at Egg Rock, an isolated monolith east of Great Keppel, while Miall, Middle, Conical and North Keppel Islands are also popular dive sites.
Getting There: Charter boats, ferries and water taxis depart from Keppel Bay Marina at Yeppoon.