The sale of the lease of Great Keppel Island paves the way for its redevelopment following cyclone damage and its closure a decade ago. Picture: Peter Wallis
The sale of the lease of Great Keppel Island paves the way for its redevelopment following cyclone damage and its closure a decade ago. Picture: Peter Wallis

Queensland ‘party island’ to be reborn

THE iconic Queensland party island that went from a great place to "get wrecked" to just being a wreck is poised to be reborn as a tourism mecca.

Tower Holdings has struck a deal to sell its lease over the much-maligned Great Keppel Island resort to Singaporean-led consortium Wei Chao Pty Ltd.

The deal comes a decade after Tower boss Terry Agnew closed the resort and paves the way for a 250-room beachfront hotel, 300 luxury apartments, 285 luxury villas, retail shops and a 250-berth marina which already have development approval.

A 250-room beachfront hotel, 300 luxury apartments, 285 luxury villas, retail shops and a 250-berth marina have been approved for development on Great Keppel.
A 250-room beachfront hotel, 300 luxury apartments, 285 luxury villas, retail shops and a 250-berth marina have been approved for development on Great Keppel.

 

The sale of Great Keppel, which attracted both customers and controversy with its highly successful "a great place to get wrecked" advertising campaign of the 1980s, is the fifth Great Barrier Reef island to change hands recently after South Molle, Daydream, Wilson and Heron islands.

The Palaszczuk Government has committed to pumping $25 million into connecting the island to mainland power and water and the demolition of the old resort.

Damaged building on Great Keppel Island following cyclone Marcia. Picture: Peter Wallis
Damaged building on Great Keppel Island following cyclone Marcia. Picture: Peter Wallis

 

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the deal, while still subject to a due diligence process, was a vote of confidence in Queensland's island resorts.

"We want a whole new generation of tourists to fall in love with Great Keppel Island," she said.

"We've seen record numbers of international and Australian tourists coming to Queensland but we know the missing link has been our Great Barrier Reef island resorts.

"We're committed to seeing these resorts rebuilt, reopened and attracting new tourists to our state."

Ravaged by cyclones and financial storms, at least nine islands where resorts previously operated remain closed.

JLL Hotels vice president Tom Gibson, who was part of the international marketing push for Great Keppel, said Queensland's islands were on the verge of a new era.

"Private investment continues to pour into Great Barrier Reef, most notably with the rebranding of Hayman and Daydream Island, the ongoing expansion of Hamilton Island and the product investment into Lizard, Bedarra and Orpheus Island," he said.

Capricorn Enterprise chief Mary Carroll said while tourism remained on Great Keppel, a new resort would be a "game changer".

"While up to ten commercial operators offering 300 beds and a variety of water tour activities have survived and thrived over the past decade after the resort closure, we all acknowledge that a new resort with mainland connection of water and power will help realise the island's full tourism potential, creating jobs and growth for our destination."