by Jeni Bone
Described as the first new significant tourism infrastructure in Queensland for over 20 years, the Great Keppel Island Revitalisation Plan is poised for federal government approval of the $600m overhaul of the iconic North Queensland destination.
Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said this week approvals are just weeks away for GKI Resort Pty Ltd- Tower Holdings’ third attempt at securing approval for its plans for Great Keppel Island.
The third submission from the developer, this version of the Environmental Impact Statement took almost two years to complete and involved the input of over 90 expert consultants, including resort designer WATG and Greg Norman golf course design, and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) which was involved in the engineering and design solutions within the marina design, including the dredging, land reclamation and breakwater.
The proposed Revitalisation Plan will include:
• 575 hectares of Environmental Protection Area;
• The Great Keppel Island Research and Historic Centre;
• A new 250 room low-rise hotel at Fisherman’s Beach including restaurants, conference rooms, day spa and a range of recreation activities. The hotel will be designed by WATG and will reflect colours and style that will blend into the existing environment;
• A marina precinct comprising of a ferry terminal, barge ramp, retail shops, cafés restaurants and Research Centre;
• Public walking tracks throughout the Island;
• A spectacular golf course designed with essential habitat and ecological corridors. The golf course will also form an essential part of the Island’s water re-use treatment system;
• A range of tourist accommodation options to suit all budgets including: freestanding Resort Eco-villas (750) and Resort Eco-apartments (300), which will incorporate sustainable building designs, rooftop solar panels, rain water tanks and maximise natural solar access and natural ventilation;
• Submarine utilities connection between the Island and mainland comprising electricity, water and telecommunications services;
• Direct air access to Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns by upgrading the airstrip;
• Emergency service facilities including fire-fighting and police;
• Restoration of the Leeke’s Homestead.
Great Keppel Island
The Marine Services Precinct will be located in the north-west of the Island and will include a marina, ferry terminal, restaurants and shops, the Great Keppel Island Research Centre and Resort Eco-apartments.
The proposed engineering solution for the construction of the marine facility involves the reuse of any marina basin dredge material to form the core of facility breakwaters and to provide the majority of the material required for marine facility land reclamation.
The proposed construction method proposes the breakwater cores to be constructed with geotextile containers filled with sediment excavated from the marina basin. Beneficial re-use of all of the marina dredge material will: eliminate the need for any sea dumping, reduce the need for a quarry on the Island, and significantly reduce the amount of rock which will need to be transported to the Island for marina construction.
The Marine Services Precinct will be the heart and soul of the Resort. It will be a fun and lively area where guests and day visitors can enjoy waterside dining all day and a mix of boutique shopping.
The Marine Services Precinct will also be home to the various marine based tourism activities. These may include sunset cruises, reef cruises, fishing charters and dive trips.
The ferry terminal will be located within the Marine Services Precinct. This will provide all weather safe access to the Island by sea for the first time in its history as a purpose built tourism destination. This will make access to the Island for children in prams, the elderly and disabled far easier.
The Marine Services Precinct which will be located in the north-west of the Island and will include a marina, barge and ferry terminal, restaurants and shops, the GKI Research Centre and Eco Resort Apartments.
The proposed marina facility is an integral and essential component of the GKI Revitalisation Plan.
Central Queensland is relatively under-supplied with regard to marine facilities in comparison with the rest of Queensland. A new marina at the Island would represent a major piece of tourism infrastructure for the Region and complement the mainland marina at Rosslyn Bay.
The Marine Services Precinct will accommodate an active mixed use waterfront village intended to appeal to day visitors and resort guests to this area during the day and night.
GKI Marine Services Precinct
The proposed Plan of Development identifies overall outcomes for the Marine Services Precinct, including to:
• locate consistent development within the Precinct including a 250 berth marina and associated facilities including but not necessarily limited to a passenger, barge and ferry terminal, dry boat storage, and sewage pump-out facility. All of these facilities will be made available to the general public at market rates; low-rise (three storey) tourist resort accommodation in the form of approximately 185 tourist accommodation units (up to 46,250m GFA) that visually integrates with the headland and forested mountain backdrop; and a community and tourism activity node incorporating shops, restaurants, take-away food stores, offices and Sale or Hire Premises activities (up to 7,000m GFA).
• provide pedestrian, EMRV, buggies and service vehicle access between the Marine Services Precinct and Fisherman’s Beach Precinct;
• protect the ecological integrity of the coastal and marine environment at Putney Beach and surrounds;
• undertake remediation, rehabilitation and stormwater quality control works associated with Putney Creek to improve and maintain the hydrological and aquatic ecology of the Putney Creek system;
• provide facilities for scientific marine based research and to show-case the Indigenous and historic cultural heritage of the Island via the research centre and/or museum based activities;
• ensure that the Precinct activities do not intrude upon the operational airspace of the Island; and
• ensure non-accommodation uses are designed and configured in a manner that optimises the amenity of Eco Resort Apartment and Accommodation Building uses.
The marina will be designed to allow for safe and efficient access to the Island by sea and will be an important part of the transport infrastructure required for the GKI Revitalisation Plan. Accessibility is vital to the successful operation of an isolated island resort and the new marina will ensure equitable access to the Island.
GKI Marina plan
The marina design comprises the following attributes:
• a mix of berth sizes to suit anticipated demand with a maximum berth size of 30 metres;
• a preliminary marina berths layout with AS3962-2001 Guidelines for Design of Marinas;
• configuration to provide for barges and ferries up to 40 metres overall length;
• the harbour entrance and breakwater have been configured to provide a safe all- weather haven for vessels and minimise entrance channel length to deep water; and
• an entrance channel depth at the lowest Astronomical Tide of 3.5 metres and 4.7 metres for Mean Low Water Spring Tide.
The Great Keppel Island Research and Historic Centre will also be located within the Marine Services Precinct and involve the establishment of programs with various research and education groups. The Research Centre will be used to conduct research programs and conservation activities on the Island and within the Marine Park, monitoring fringing coral communities and facilitating student research activities.
Another important facet of the GKI Revitalisation Plan will be a significant commitment to the use of renewable energy by embracing one of Australia’s most significant natural resources - abundant sunshine.
ARUP Engineers has concluded that the GKI Revitalisation Plan can achieve its target of being Australia’s first carbon positive island resort through the installation of over 24,000 solar panels on the rooftops of the tourism accommodation.
In total the solar panels will generate over 12,400 megawatt hours of clean renewable energy each year.
The Resort will therefore generate more green power than it can use, allowing additional energy to be fed back to the mainland through a submarine cable. Through this activity, additional green energy will be fed back into the grid for the benefit of all Central Queensland residents.
More at www.gkiresort.com.au