Those at the GKI Progress Association's meeting on Monday, January 18.
Those at the GKI Progress Association's meeting on Monday, January 18.

Altum, businesses form association to vouch for GKI resort

Altum Property Group and Capricorn Coast businesses last month formed an association to advocate the development of Altum’s planned resort on Great Keppel Island.

The GKI Progress Association Inc.’s stated aims are to increase awareness of the resort project, to provide stakeholders a forum to discuss it, and to speak with all levels of government about their island investments.

The group’s secretary is Altum’s revitalisation project general manager Leigh McCready.

Its president is Ross O’Reilly and its treasurer is Gerry Christie, both of whom are also on the association’s committee, which consists of those who signed an open letter drafted by Ms McCready in September last year.

The signatories of that letter, which requested that the State Government spend a promised $30 million on a jetty, breakwall, and barge ramp at GKI, were the following:

– Max Allen, owner of Freedom Fast Cats

– Gerry Christie, owner of Island Pizza

– John Gavel, owner of Rosslyn Bay Fisherman’s Market

– Kelly Harris, manager of Great Keppel Island Hideaway

– Geoff Mercer, owner of GKI Holiday Village

– Mario Mercorella, owner of Caltex Rosslyn Bay

– Ross O’Reilly, owner of Beaches Restaurant, O’Reilly’s Real Estate, Rosslyn Bay Resort, Rosslyn Bay Wellness Spa, Rosslyn Bay Wellness Retreats, and High Valley Dawn Permaculture Farm

The progress association was incorporated on December 17, 2020, and its Facebook page was formed from the A new beginning for Great Keppel Island supporters page, originally set up in 2012.

Mr O'Reilly in 2016.
Mr O'Reilly in 2016.

Mr O’Reilly said it was the perfect time to build a resort because the country and the region needed a family holiday location and could use the jobs involved with establishing it.

“This is pretty much the last roll of the dice of getting a development over there that will cater for Central Queensland and what Central Queensland desires and what it deserves,” he said.

“We need another destination nationally, let alone Queensland, let alone Central Queensland.

“We used to go take the young family to Keppel Island, to the resort over there, and there was never any thought of having to go overseas.”

Mr O’Reilly said Altum was a great fit for the project as they were “by far the most conscious developers that we’ve had”.

“Transparency I think is really, really important and maybe there hasn’t been a lot of transparency years gone by,” he said.

He said the progress association was originally a steering committee and was entirely voluntary.

“If they offered me money I wouldn’t take it,” Mr O’Reilly said.

“If this opportunity’s lost we’ll be looking back down the track and saying ‘Well, we didn’t do enough to try to get this project up’.”

Altum Property Group GKI revitalisation project general manager Leigh McCready. Photo: Patrick Woods
Altum Property Group GKI revitalisation project general manager Leigh McCready. Photo: Patrick Woods

The group met Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga, who was made aware of the association in December, at GKI on Monday.

Mr O’Reilly called it a “really, really good day”, and Ms Lauga said “the spirit of collaboration was higher than I’ve ever seen it”.

“The island operators and the association and Altum were unified in their support for a break wall to be built on Putney Beach that would facilitate better access to the island,” she said.

“The breakwall would also include a ferry connection that the Fast Cats and Keppel Konnections and tourism operators could use.”

Altum, Ms Lauga said, submitted a revised financial and managerial capability assessment to the Department of Natural Resources this month.

“That’s being assessed at the moment,” she said. “The department expects that it will take a couple of weeks to assess the submission by Altum.”

A favourable assessment could result in the transferring of land leases to the Sunshine Coast property developer.

“As always, cautiously optimistic about the submissions that Altum made,” Ms Lauga said.

“They were good enough to talk about the ways in which they’ve approved their application.”

Brittany Lauga (left) on GKI.
Brittany Lauga (left) on GKI.

The State Government’s pledged GKI infrastructure, construction of which was supposed to have started by the end of 2020, is still being planned.

Ms Lauga said engineers from the Department of Tourism were “on the ground” in December and this month.

She said they “investigated the development of improved common user infrastructure” and are now “well under way in the commencement of prioritising which common user infrastructure will be of the greatest benefit”.

The progress association will hold a public forum on Monday, February 8 at Beaches Restaurant.

Attendees, who can register for the event on the association’s Facebook page, will be able to ask questions of the group in advance.