- Beach! (clearest water and whitest sand I’ve seen)
- Snorkelling and Diving
- Hiking to the highest peak of Great Keppel Island – Mt Wyndham
- Rising sandstone plateau – Blackdown Tablelands
In the simplest of terms, finishing uni for the year calls for a holiday, doesn’t it? Well as a way of congratulating ourselves, my girlfriend and I (desperate for some sun) packed the car and headed north up the Bruce highway. This meant a short but sweet 3 day trip to Great Keppel Island in the Capricorn region of Queensland’s east coast and then a overnight camp in the Blackdown Tablelands of Central Queensland. Situated in the pacific ocean only a 30 minute ferry ride from Rosslyn Bay in Yeppoon, it was a quick and easy transition to get onto the island. Travelling to the island with Freedom Fast Cats was as smooth as could be and made our arrival really pleasant. A few hundred metres offshore, the water starts to change to the most gorgeous blue colour… reminding us straight up that we were on an island.
What else do you do on a island other than laying on the beach, possibly falling asleep and without doubt getting sunburnt. Well for starters you can snorkel over a beautiful small reef 100m off the isolated but ever so stunning Monkey Beach; a short 20 minute walk from the resort. With the same coral diversity as the Whitsundays, save the extra fuel money and stop here instead! You’ll also get a much more refreshing experience as it isn’t heavily tourist populated like islands further north. You can hire a kayak for an hour or up to a day, and paddle to wherever your heart is content… Stop by on any of the 17 pristine white beaches on Great Keppel Island, bring lunch and maybe a beer? Or better yet, visit Long Beach which has recently been voted as #14 best beach in Australia out of 11,700 beaches! You have to see it!
Take a hike up to the highest point of Great Keppel Island, Mt Wyndham were you can really get an understanding of how big the island is. Offering a near 360 degree perspective, little views in my opinion have come close to it. Unobstructed views to every other 17 islands in the Keppel group leaves you speechless.
The island has all the facilities you’d expect without being over civilised for an island. Great Keppel Island Hideaway have many rooms by the beach that are fully decked out with the works; and they also boast safari tents that are minimal but adequate (we stayed in these). There is a great restaurant/bistro and bar right near the beach and they provided delicious food after working up an appetite from swimming.
Three days of constant and unrelenting sun leaves you a little on the red side. So after applying the aloe vera, we hopped on the ferry and headed back to the mainland. Jumped in the car, arrived in Rockhampton for supplies and took the 2 hour drive west along the Capricorn highway out towards the little town of Dingo where we took the left turn up the red dirt road into the park. Although the Blackdown Tablelands are pretty remote, in terms of highway access, it was a place high on my list to visit. Now that summer is here, so is the rain. The entire first day for lookouts and photos was a bummer but that didn’t stop the serenity of being the only people in the large widespread campground listening to the whip birds and kookaburras with the sound of light dripping rain. For me, natural experiences like that are what keep me going!
An early morning sunrise hike to Mook Mook lookout left us dazzled at the beauty of this hidden sandstone gem. As the light broke through the clouds, the place lit up like crazy and the day had been born. Massive sandstone escarpments and 300m vertical cliffs, similar to the Blue Mountains are what make this place so compelling. On the way back down the windy road, we stopped at the Yaddaman Dhina lookout that faces west which was a total white out the previous day at sunset (sigh). This time however, it was clear as day and the views stretched out to the horizon. Again, huge weathered sandstone cliffs were the spectacle here. I am very fond of this place and need to return soon as we didn’t see all the parks features, like the rainbow falls.
Well holidays are always too short, so the long 8 hour drive back to Brisbane awaited us. About 3 hours from Brisbane or 50km south of Childers lies the Mt Walsh mountain range near the town of Biggenden in the North Burnett region. Mt Walsh is a beautiful exposed rocky mountain with 3 peaks and rugged granite outcrops. We stopped off here on the way home to watch the sunset and although it’s not in the Capricorn area, it was another place i’d been dying to see. I’ll definitely be back to climb Mt Walsh!
So long Capricorn coast, you have been splendid.
Essential gear required
- Tent for Blackdown Tablelands
- Cooking Gear and Food
- Sleeping Gear
- Thongs, Boardies, Towels
- Snorkelling gear (can be hired through great keppel island hideaway for $15 a day)
- Camera, Lenses and Tripod
How to get there
Great Keppel Island – Yeppoon: Rosslyn Bay
Drive 7 hours (600km) up the Bruce Highway from Brisbane then drive 40 minutes from Rockhampton to Yeppoon’s Rosslyn Bay harbour. From there you will catch a ferry through ‘Great Keppel Island Connections’ which takes roughly 30 minutes.
Blackdown Tableland National Park
Drive from Rossyln Bay back to Rockhampton and take the capricorn highway approximately 2 hours west until you see the Blackdown Tableland National Park sign.
Hike to Mt Wyndham on Great Keppel Island was 1:30 hours one way and about 200m elevation gain.
Hike to Mook Mook lookout in Blackdown Tablelands was 30 minutes each way.