Keppel Bay Marina celebrates 20-year anniversary
THE Keppel Bay Marina (KBM) has created a gateway for boating around the Keppel Islands and welcoming local and visiting boats to the Capricorn Coast since its opening 20 years ago.
The Wilson family acquired this development project in 1989. Richard Wilson, a fourth generation Central Queensland cattleman and his wife Libbie were inspired by the vision for this project and what it would mean for Central Queensland.
"We saw this project as an opportunity to make a significant contribution to the region and really put the Keppel Islands and Capricorn Coast on the map," Richard Wilson said.
While the extensive planning, development and construction of the project was commenced a decade prior, on April 27, 1996, Stage 1 of Keppel Bay Marina as we know it today was launched by the then Premier of Queensland, the Hon Rob Borbidge MLA.
This first stage consisted of 165 marina berths, charter loading dock with shade structure and drive up access, Marina Centre housing the marina office, Waterline Café, brokerage, chandlery, tourist services, charter bookings, laundry, 15 boatyard work berths, and boat repair and maintenance.
General manager Kylie Smith said prior to 1996, to own a boat on the Capricorn Coast meant having it on a trailer, or anchoring in creeks or rivers to seek protection from the weather.
"Early photos show a number of boats seeking free safe anchorage in the newly created Keppel Bay Marina basin prior to the construction of pontoons," Kylie said.
"Boats cruising up the Queensland Coast would bypass the Capricorn Coast completely, hopping from Gladstone, straight to Mackay. Today Keppel Bay Marina welcomes hundreds of cruising boats every year to Keppel Bay and the Capricorn Coast."
The first 165 berths took only a few years to fill, necessitating expansion in 2000, then again in 2008 and most recently 2013 marked the opening of the Northern Marina by Her Excellency Penelope Wensley AC, the Queensland Governor at the time and brought the total number of berths to over 500 and made Keppel Bay Marina, the largest privately-owned marina in Australia and the largest in Northern Australia.
Ferries operated from Rosslyn Bay Harbour prior to 1996, but opportunities for cruises, boat charters and fishing charters were limited until the Marina Centre opened in 1996 providing Tourist Services and ferry and charter ticket sales. Keppel Bay Marina won its first of many Tourism Awards with the Central Coast and Southern Reef New Tourism Business in 1997, and was inducted into the Tourism Hall of Fame as a Significant Regional Attraction in 2006 after winning this award for three consecutive years.
"The Waterline Restaurant, as we know it today, started as a small counter in the corner of the Marina Centre, serving coffee, cake and sandwiches to vessel owners, enlarging across the building in December 1999," Kylie added.
"Today, a jewel in the crown of the Capricorn Coast dining scene, The Waterline Restaurant is the most awarded restaurant in the region, a favourite for locals and tourists."
KBM will celebrate 20 Years on Sunday April 24 with the community invited to enjoy the boating facilities, dine at The Waterline Restaurant, browse the display of history and memorabilia, enjoy Ryan Conway playing Live on the Lawn and entertainment for the kids