Great Keppel Island
The Island is one of those places that is forgotten and passed by in people’s travels. The island sits among a group of Great Barrier Reef National Park islands off the Capricorn Coast of Central Queensland. It lies 15 kilometres across Keppel Bay from the town of Yeppoon (a 30-minute ferry ride) and is 45 kilometres from Rockhampton, the closest major city – halfway between Fraser Island in Hervey Bay and the Whitsunday Islands near Airlie Beach.
The Keppel Island Group consists of 14 islands, with Great Keppel Island being the largest (43 kilometres in circumference; approximately 3,500 acres). The majority of the other islands are National Parks, some available for camping with a required camping permit. Due to the central location of Great Keppel Island, we enjoy a warm, sunny climate and safe swimming beaches year-round.
Visitors to the island step ashore to unspoilt bushland surrounded by 17 pristine, white sand beaches, private coves, and pockets of fringing reef, excellent for swimming, snorkelling and diving. Ninety percent of the island is bushland with many bushwalking tracks to explore the interior and have access to secluded beaches. There are enough activities to keep you busy or choose to simply relax and enjoy the peacefulness of the bushland and beaches away from the main activity of Fisherman’s Beach.
Dolphins are often seen close to the main beaches during winter months and the occasional whale makes an appearance in the bay on their yearly migrations. Brush tail possums are numerous, as well as blue-tongue lizards and goannas. Birdlife is varied with white-breasted sea eagles, brahminy kites, ospreys, pied oystercatchers, beach curlews, honeyeaters, rainbow bee-eaters, pheasant coucals, friarbirds, and of course, the lovely and ever noisy crows, kookaburras and rainbow lorikeets – guaranteed to wake you up in the morning!
Great Keppel Island Beaches
Fishermans Beach & Putney Beach – Main Beaches
Fisherman’s Beach is the main beach on Great Keppel Island and is where the ferry arrives. The Holiday Village, Watersports Hut, private homes and other facilities are based along this beach. Putney Beach meets Fisherman’s at the “Spit”. Both beaches offer safe, sheltered swimming, snorkelling and other water activities.
Shelving Beach – Shortest Walk to Easy Snorkelling
Shelving Beach is around the corner from Fisherman’s Beach (accessed on low tide by walking around the rocks or on the walking track that goes over the hill and down to the beach). It is nestled between rocky outcrops and coral reefs and is one of the most idyllic and closest beaches for snorkelling – always full of a variety of colourful and exciting marine life.
Leeke’s Beach – Easy Getaway to Remote Beach
When you arrive at Leeke’s Beach you feel like you have arrived on your own deserted island. This is one of the more spectacular and biggest beaches on the island. There are a few ways to get there – take the track at the end of Putney Beach either up the hill through the bush, or on low tide, follow the rocks around the headland. The other option is to follow the road up to the Lookout and down to the track leading you through beautiful bushland out to the beach. Fishing is great at the headland or near the mouth of Leeke’s Creek.
Second Beach – Yachties Hiding Place
Second Beach can be reached on the way to Svendsen’s Beach. It nestles between the rocky outcrops of Creek Rocks and Middle Rocks. It is a popular harbour for sail boats visiting Great Keppel Island, as it is sheltered from both southerly and easterly winds.
The Svendsen family has been associated with the island for many years and still live at this beach. The beach can be reached by taking the track continuing past the Homestead. It is a long 10 km walk, so you need to be prepared with good walking shoes, water and snacks. Along the way, take in the view from the Lookout, check out the original Homestead of the Leeke family and wonder about the life they had living on the island.
Butterfish Bay – Great Spot for Shell Collecting
Butterfish Bay is a small cove with rocky outcrops on either side and big sand hills behind it. The water is a beautiful aqua green colour and clear as glass on calm days. There are good viewing spots on the headland on either side of the beach. A beautiful secluded spot.
Secret Beach – Boat Access Only
Secret Beach is really a secret. Access in and out is by boat only (see Great Keppel Island Water Taxi under “Activities”). Turtles nest on this beach – and they definitely need their privacy!
Wreck Beach – Good Surf Beach
Wreck Beach, located on the far side of the island, is quite a walk from the accommodation side of the island – definitely a full day return trip, so make sure to take water and snacks with you. But it is worth the effort. You may see dolphins, turtles and other marine life around the beach. When conditions are right, this is where you will find the surf. Being such a remote beach, you’ll most probably be the only one there and feel like Robinson Crusoe.
Red Beach – More Surf
Red Beach is one of the special places on the island. Access is only by boat – on a calm day. There is often a rolling surf here, so makes landing on the beach difficult. See Great Keppel Island Water Taxi under “Activities” page for access. If you take the walking track to the lighthouse, you are able to look down to the beach from the ridge, but there is NO walking access as the cliffs are very steep and hazardous.
This is another one of those picturesque spots on the island, but again, only accessible by boat. If you take the bush track to Mt. Wyndham (which is a must for the spectacular 360 degree views), you are able to look down into the Cove.
Long Beach – Very Special
As the name suggests, this is a long and straight beach and one of the easiest to access. To see the full visual beauty, take the track to Mt. Wyndham. To get to the beach, take the track from the end of Fisherman’s Beach and wander through the gum and grass trees, or you can walk over the headland from Monkey Beach.
Monkey Beach – Great Snorkelling
Monkey Beach is an easy walk over the track from the end of Fisherman’s Beach or from the end of Long Beach. Here you will pass through a shell midden left by Aboriginal people from the past. The beach is great for snorkelling and is well protected from the southeasterly winds.