The first lease on the island was taken out by James Paige in 1908. It was transferred to N.C. O'Neil in 1918. After O'Neil's death in 1923, it was taken over by his wife Lizzie who subsequently married a local fisherman, Ralph Leeke. Both Leeke's Creek and Leeke's Beach are named after the couple whose house and shearing shed still stand on land behind and above the mangroves. 

GKI was popular for local man James Morris - an oysterman, who would accommodate his fishing parties on the island in the bush shelters. His sons Con and Cres Morris built the first two huts in 1935 on Fishermans Beach. 

At the end of World War 11 - Great Keppel Island became a hot spot for local tourists. 

By 1957 there were seven cabins and a house which were constructed by Charles Tompson and thus began the first rudimentary resort. Due to illness, Charles sold the buildings to Con, Cres, and Allan Morris and Silver Sands started its operation in 1957. Allan Morris wrote a book about his life on the Island and called it "My Island in the Sun." 

Silver Sands operated through to 1966 and new owners took over the resort. Graham Roberts and Tom Green built a large new building and the first swimming pool.  TAA entered the scene and so the airstrip was built to service the resort. 


When Graham met Allan Morris in 1962 he had just established businesses on the mainland in Yeppoon. Allan had asked Graham to charter his guests to Keppel. Licensed to carry nine passengers - it was a fast fiber-glass cruiser that allowed even a fishing venture - but plans petered out. Allan had six huts and an unfinished building. The building was fibro-lined shed housing with a large fuel stove, and a bank of kerosene refrigerators an assortment of tables and chairs.

Graham never gave up his dream to own his own resort and he had the opportunity when a small parcel of land was available north - the end of Fishermans Beach. He applied and although the beach spit and beach were magnificent - but it was too exposed and the flora and fauna too fragile. This led to Silver Sands. To update Silver Sands as per the Government request Graham 

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In 1964 Graham Roberts negotiated with the airline TAA to construct an airstrip on Great Keppel Island at the cost of $80,000. The airstrip was about 2000metres long and it was cut through a huge sand dune.



Landing on Long Beach 


The building


In 1971 Roberts & green sold the resort to a Sydney-based consortium which also acquired the grazing lease thus changing the future of the island. TAA upgraded the resort in 1974 and introduced "GET WRECKED ON KEPPEL" six years later in 1980

TAA increased its interest in the resort taking over full ownership in 1975. The resort continued to expand over the next 15 years eventually reaching a size able to accommodate 350 visitors and 130 staff. It is most famously known for the highly successful "Get Wrecked on Great Keppel" advertising campaign.

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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.


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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.

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?