A marina and hotel complex will be developed on Queensland’s Great Keppel Island following the sale of a 160-hectare lease to a leading Sunshine Coast developer.
Altum Constructions has agreed to buy the lease from owner Tower Holdings, the deal coming with a state government condition attached for construction of a sea wall and stage one of both a 50-berth marina and resort hotel complex. The Queensland government has committed to delivering water, power and fibre optic cable to the development.
Great Keppel is the largest of largest of the eighteen islands in the Keppel Group off the Capricorn Coast at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.
The former holiday mecca, like many of its neighbouring reef islands, languished on the market for five years following devastating cyclones and the effects of the GFC on Tower Holdings, its 99-year leaseholder since 2006.
In September last year Tower launched a cryptocurrency plan to sell off small plots on the island to investors – the latest in a long line of funding options explored by the company which included a casino resort rejected by planners.
A month later the Singaporean-Taiwanese business group Wei Chao agreed to pay $60 million for 971 hectares of development-approved land on the 1308-hectare island, but while contracts were exchanged, no deal has materialised and Tower Holdings remains the registered leaseholder.
Altum’s construction director Rob McCready told the Sunshine Coast Daily that after a failed bid for nearby Dunk Island, the company had eyed Great Keppel as “the best island off Queensland with the best beaches and a fantastic climate with half the rainfall of the northern Great Barrier Reef and no stingers”.
While he anticipates the lease transfer will be a lengthy process, McCready says he’s “impressed by the level of support” being shown by state member for Keppel Brittany Lauga and Queensland tourism minister Kate Jones.
“It’s now a prioritised project that will get referred to the coordinator general to process,” he said.
“It is critical tourism infrastructure. In the past decade there has been a 50 percent increase in tourism to Queensland but only a 12 to 13 percent increase in Central Queensland.”
Mr McCready says he expects the marina’s first stage development costs to run to around $30 million with the full construction of waterfront apartments likely to cost $250 million.
Current development approvals for the island include a 250-room beachfront hotel, 300 luxury apartments, 285 luxury villas, 9,000sq m of retail shops and a 250-berth marina.
Approval has also been given for the airstrip to be extended from 800 metres to 1.5 kilometres which would allow greater visitor access and direct flights from Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns.
Great Keppel is the latest in a long line of Great Barrier Reef island resorts snapped up by private investors in the past two years following South Molle, Daydream, Wilson, Heron, Hayman and Dunk islands.
The Whitsundays resurgence is driving price growth and tourism development up and down the Queensland coast from Port Douglas in the north to the Sunshine Coast in the south. International bookings at Whitsunday resorts rose by ten percent in 2018.