Jet Ski lovers have plenty of open water to explore on a Jet Ski hire at great Keppel.
Jet Ski lovers have plenty of open water to explore on a Jet Ski hire at great Keppel. David Lems

Travel: The tranquility of Great Keppel Island

LEAVING footprints in the glistening sand helps soothe the stress. Walking on Great Keppel Island offers tranquillity and a feast for the eyes. The 1454ha paradise has 17 beautiful beaches to explore, many of which are only accessible by foot.

But it's not only the peaceful surroundings and spectacular views that make the island an ideal location for a day trip or longer stay. The crystal clear waters provide a playground for paddling, snorkelling, sailing cruises and offshore fishing. A guided jet-ski tour around the island is one of the highlights.

GKI Adventures husband and wife team Amie and Brett have valuable local knowledge, having lived on the island for many years. Amie can organise several adventure activities on the family-friendly island and Brett is happy to take visitors further offshore, fishing, if the conditions are right.

The water depth drops dramatically from five to 25m in places, providing good access to large predatory species. Brett's photos of the monster spanish mackerel caught in the area would tempt any angler to try their luck.

Amie says the diversity of options enhances the island's appeal. "I like May. It's not so hot,'' she said.

However, even during busier times like school holidays, Amie said the island provided a great escape for those chasing adventure or wanting to relax on the beaches.

Another person with a wealth of knowledge is "Fergie'', the jack of all trades at Great Keppel Island Hideaway. He first came to the island in 1986.

His enjoyable four-wheel-drive tour into the island's interior takes in lookouts and historic features. One of the mysteries is how goats became so prevalent on the island when there are no kangaroos or koalas.

Back at the resort, it is time to choose another adventure or simply stroll along the splendid beaches.

Before you leave your footprints in the sand, use plenty of sunscreen and apply insect repellent, especially during the warmer months. Take a backpack and a water bottle to enjoy the bush trails, which provide magnificent views of the bays, marshes and surrounding islands. On the relaxing 30-minute ferry trip leaving from Rosslyn Bay, Yeppoon, you see other remote locations in the Keppel group of islands. Some are privately owned and others are protected by buffer zones.

Back on the mainland, Rockhampton is an ideal base from which to plan a trip to Keppel or explore the Capricorn Coast's other attractions.

The Edge Luxury Apartments offer comfortable accommodation overlooking the Fitzroy River and within walking distance of many excellent eateries. Two nearby places worth a visit for a sumptuous feed and relaxing drink are the historic Criterion and Great Western hotels.

The aptly named Popular Rump is highly recommended at the Criterion, where the walls carry some incredible sporting history and insights into Rockhampton's past.

Rodeos are often held at the Great Western Hotel, providing an entertaining environment in which to enjoy a hearty meal.

David Lems was a guest of Tourism and Events Queensland.

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