Located in the southern part of the Whitsundays, Keswick Island is a member of the Cumberland group of islands and is within the UNESCO World Heritage Great Barrier Reef area.
The island has a small number of residents, just a couple dozen, and remains relatively undeveloped, as there is no all-inclusive resort on the island. The island is quiet and secluded island for visitors compared to its much more developed neighbor, Bedarra Island, which is seven kilometers to the north.
Few visitors make it to this island. In the first quarter of 2009, over 700,000 traveled to the Whitsunday islands, but fewer than 700 visited Keswick Island.
The real estate development company Keswick Developments Pty Ltd has been given a lease and custodianship of the island as it develops the island’s facilities for the tourist industry. 100 private lots have been sold or leased, and it is expected that the tourist industry will grow a lot in the near future. About a dozen houses have been constructed already. Some say that this is the last island in the Whitsunday group to be approved for development.
Just 117 hectares of the island’s 530 hectares is slated for development – on the north-eastern and eastern sides of the island. There are plans to develop the island – with existing proposals to construct a marina, resort complex, and residential housing complex.
About 80% of the island constitutes a National Park, with virgin tropical forest and five beaches virtually unspoiled due to the lack of island development. The island has a beautiful ridge that rises to 300 metres above sea level.
Several hundred meters from Keswick is St. Bees Island, separated by the Egremont Passage. A population of koalas lives on St. Bees in the eucalyptus forest.
The island is surrounded by coral reefs and a diversity of marine life, making the waters a desirable location for snorkeling and diving. There are three wrecks available for diving, such as the historic wreck “The Singapore” and “Llewellyn” easily accessible by boat.
The island experiences large tidal variations of up to six metres, which makes for great opportunities to wander along the sea floor during low tide.
Keswick Island is well-positioned to view the annual humpback whale and sea turtle migration through the Whitsundays.
Activities (Nature and Wildlife Interest)
Keswick offers great outdoor island activities typical of a tropical island: swimming, diving, snorkeling, boating, bird watching, crabbing, fishing (from the beach or deep-see fishing via a boat charter), bushwalking, and beachcombing.
The National Park has several narrow walking tracks through the rainforest and along the beaches.
Visitors can take helicopter rides overlooking the region or charter boats to neighbouring areas.
Keswick Island offers both resort options and self-contained accommodations.
The Keswick Island Guest House (B&B) is the only formal accommodation option with meals included. The Guest House features just four king en-suites, gourmet dining, and a 150-square-metre deck overlooking the Coral Sea. There are BBQ facilities, a bar, a game and recreation room, a TV/lounge area, laundry facilities, a library, and a communal lounge.
The guest house caters to single travelers, couples, and families. The accommodation does not offer shops, boutiques, or the other trappings of all-inclusive resorts, but instead a portal into the beauty and quiet of the outdoors. The Guest House is just 50 meters from the National Park, and 500 meters from the beach at Basil Bay.
As well, the island has several private houses that are available for short and long letting; interested parties should contact Keswick Developments to find out more.
There are no camping facilities on the island.
Keswick Island is 34km north-east of Mackay.
Keswick Island has an airstrip, with regular flights from Mackay airport which take just 10 minutes.
Visitors can reach Keswick by ferry, charter, or private boat from Mackay Harbour to the island’s dock. The ferry runs four days a week, and the takes approximately 40 minutes.