Just a 30 minute glide across the waters from Yeppoon, Great Keppel Island is one of the most famous islands on the Great Barrier Reef and the biggest of the Keppel group of islands. Fringed by stunning, coral gardens, turquoise waters and sun drenched beaches. The island's interior abundant with native wildlife and acres of bush land scattered with winding walking trails. The island has a Resort and Holiday Village.
The tropical climate and numerous beaches attract tourists from all points, and a number of accommodation houses cater for them including Keppel Lodge and various houses. There are 17 white sandy beaches with some of the highest cover of hard coral reefs on the Great Barrier Reef. The coral diversity of these reefs matches that of the Whitsundays with clear waters most of the year around. Great Keppel Island is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The island is served by ferries and aircraft.
Great Keppel Island is surrounded by Keppel Bay Islands National Park, which is made up of a group of continental islands that lie within Keppel Bay, adjacent to the Capricorn Coast of Central Queensland. There are seven islands within this National Park that are available for camping, ranging in size from North Keppel Island (580ha) through to Conical Island (7 ha). No part of Great Keppel Island is National Park.
The Keppel Islands are habitat for many bird species, particularly those dependent on marine and tidal areas for feeding and roosting. A wide range of reptiles can be found on many of the islands. Paperbark, livistona palm and schlerophyll forests, together with grasslands and low shrublands in exposed areas can be found on the islands.
The mainland terminal for boat access to Keppel Bay is the Rosslyn Bay Boat Harbour near Yeppoon. Regular commercial ferry services operate to Great Keppel Island from Rosslyn Bay. It is possible to arrange transport to national park camping islands with ferry operators and commercial charterers from Rosslyn Bay. It is also possible to arrange transport to camping islands from Great Keppel Island.
The islands were named by Captain James Cook in 1770 after the then First Lord of the Admiralty, Admiral Augustus Keppel. Prior to European settlement, the island was home to the Woppaburra and Ganumi people of the Darumbal nation, with centuries old middens testifying to the quantity of seafood found in the surrounding waters. European settlers killed or removed most of the indigenous population by the end of the 19th century. During its early European history, the island was used to raise sheep, however it is now a tourist destination.