Eli Orzessek goes camping at The Great Keppel Island Holiday Village.


On Great Keppel Island, a beautiful spot on the Southern Barrier Reef. Once home to a sprawling resort, the remaining accommodation options are more grassroots and camping-based. The Holiday Village was originally billed as the "quiet alternative" to the resort, which was once party central. It's a stone's throw from the water, nestled among the gum trees.

Room: You have the choice of twin rooms, decked tents, cabins and a self-contained house that sleeps up to six. I stayed in a decked tent, which was fully screened and contained a double bed, lights, fans and a small deck with a table and chairs - a great place to relax in the evenings, while spotting interesting birds and lizards.

Eating: It's generally a BYO affair, with a decent-sized share kitchen. I was treated to a delicious dinner of lamb shanks at the nearby house of Geoff Mercer, who runs the place. If you can get on his good side, I'd recommend it - he cooks a mean feed.


Food options are limited on the island, so it's best to come prepared. The nearby Great Keppel Island Hideaway has a bar and bistro, but it's fairly basic.

Exercise: Forget the gym, there's plenty to get you active in the great outdoors. There's a number of great bushwalking tracks around the island. The walk up Mt Wyndham will give you the best views from the highest point in the island.

Activities: The Holiday Village has snorkelling and stand-up paddleboarding equipment on offer - you'll want to spend as much time in the crystal clear water as possible, there's so much to see. If you want to get further out, they offer snorkelling trips on a motorised canoe. Be sure to head out to the old underwater observatory - you'll be treated to great array of colourful marine life. On my trip, I saw massive stingrays, sharks, beautiful sea turtles and too many amazing fish to list.

The views: Amazing views, especially if you get up the aforementioned high point. Otherwise, just plonk yourself on a towel and stare out into the blue. On a quiet day, you can have a decent stretch of beach all to yourself. Fisherman's and Putney beaches are the best place to watch the sunset.

What's in the neighbourhood? Thankfully, not that much. There's the Hideaway, a gift shop and place to rent watersports equipment. Aside from the closed resort, it's largely undeveloped and a great place to fuel your desert island fantasies.

Price: About $108 a night for a decked tent, $162 for a cabin, $206 for Keppel house and $37 for a three-bed share room.

Contact: gkiholidayvillage.com.au
Would I return? Sure would.