YOUR STORY: Marcia didn't ruin pair's favourite GKI getaway

IT was an invigorating getaway for Emu Park woman Sharyn Moodie and her partner, Morning Bulletin photographer Chris Ison.

Sharyn and Chris popped over to Great Keppel Island, following the devastation of tropical Cyclone Marcia, and found it quite the opposite of what they were expecting.

Sharyn retells her four-day experience through a wonderful memoir:

Sharyn Moodie with a marker for Four Trees Hill on the Wreck Beach walk while staying at the Svensen's Beach Retreat on Great Keppel Island.
Sharyn Moodie with a marker for Four Trees Hill on the Wreck Beach walk while staying at the Svensen's Beach Retreat on Great Keppel Island.

THERE was nothing to do. There was so much to do.

And we had a good go at doing both.

My partner and I spent four days on Great Keppel Island on the Capricorn Coast just a fortnight after Cyclone Marcia had wreaked her havoc on Yeppoon and Rockhampton.

That only slightly affected our stay, with murky water for snorkelling and trees to hurdle on the walking tracks, but it brought with it an incredible number of butterflies. They were everywhere, practically swarming, and brought a special touch to the days.

The adventure began when we were picked up from Great Keppel's ferry service by Lyndie Malan from Svendsen's Beach eco-resort.

She and Carl Svendsen had been working flat out since word of the cyclone's expected path, firstly "taking down" the resort, and then putting it all back together. There had been no major damage, just an almighty mess.

There was no sight of that mess as we pulled up on Svendsen's Beach.

Sharyn Moodie watching the sunset from Svendsen's Beach on Great Keppel Island.
Sharyn Moodie watching the sunset from Svendsen's Beach on Great Keppel Island.

 

The experience offered at Svendsen's is luxury eco-camping. We were accommodated in a tent cabin, which had everything we needed - particularly as we didn't spent much time in it.

Why relax on a comfy double bed when you can be sitting in a palm-fringed gazebo gazing over the calm ocean? We could just see houses on the mainland in the distance, a gentle reminder of how lucky we were not to be there!

After two weeks of watching Yeppoon trying to tidy itself up after the trauma of the cyclone, with a suppressed guilt about how lucky our home had been to escape damage, it was lovely to get away.

We were eager to see the nearby white-beached cave featured on the website, and the tide was just right for getting in there soon after we arrived. However, Lyndie had wondered if the cyclone had ripped the sand away, and she was right.

The water was also too rough for us to swim in, but we could see the sand was gone. Never mind, it was an excuse to return.

Instead of getting in the water, we continued to rock-hop around the point, and as we scrambled around a cliff-like projection, I felt an angry glare pierce my back. I looked back and up, to see a goat's head sticking over the edge of the cliff.

It was the first of hundreds we were to see, as feral goats are a problem on the island, but this one in particular was not happy to see us.

Feral goats graze along barren ridgeline on the East coast of Great Keppel Island.
Feral goats graze along barren ridgeline on the East coast of Great Keppel Island.

It continued to frown at us until we got way too close, and then took off into the undergrowth.

Back at the resort, we discovered some of the vagaries of "eco-resort living". The shower was beautiful. Some of Lyndie's stunning wood carvings on the wall. But to have that shower, it was necessary to take a bucket and fill the overhead canvas with water from a nearby tap.

Sharyn Moodie photographing butterflies on Great Keppel Island.
Sharyn Moodie photographing butterflies on Great Keppel Island.

Coming after a post-cyclone week of no power at home, they reinforced the message that we take so much for granted, and we use so much more than we need.

Day two began with a walk on the beach and rocks with our camera, until the tide was right for us to jump into one of the resort's two-man kayaks and go exploring.

I was glad the resort was empty except for us, so no-one was there to witness the humiliation. We soon headed back in to the beach, and swapped positions so my heavier husband was in the back. After two minutes we found our rhythm and were finally headed for Leeke's Creek, a couple of beaches away.

We rode the incoming tide into the creek, and with a few false turns, made our way through the mangroves until they opened out to reveal our first destination, the shearer's shed.

Sheep were farmed on the island from about 1920, and the nearby homestead has a fascinating history.

Although the shearer's shed has been rebuilt, the homestead has been heritage listed.

We had spent a relaxing and invigorating four days, mostly by ourselves but never feeling alone. Svendsen's Beach showed us another side of the island, a side we are keen to revisit.

The Buoy Tree on Second Beach Great Keppel Island was made by a passing yachtie. Rubbish or art? It's in the eye of the beholder.
The Buoy Tree on Second Beach Great Keppel Island was made by a passing yachtie. Rubbish or art? It's in the eye of the beholder.


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