Keswick Island, Qld
Just a short distance from Mackay in Queensland, Australia lies the hidden haven of Keswick Island. The island is a must see if you’re visiting North Tropical Queensland, surrounded by natural beauty, gorgeous sky blue waters and the ambient silence of nature. We first visited the island during late October, 2016 and from the moment we stepped off the plane we were memorized by the atmosphere of the island. Access to the Island is a short scenic flight from the Mackay airport (with views of surrounding islands and the main land that are to die for) or alternatively via boat charter. Below are some of the many reasons why you should most certainly put Keswick Island on your bucket list!
The Birds and the Bees
Take a walk down some of the gorgeous tracks hidden within the Keswick Island National Park. There are walks to suit people of all fitness levels, from shorter walks, to longer walks more specified to people who enjoy a long hike. Some of my favorite walks were up to Horse Shoe Bay, which took us through gorgeous dense forest, past the nesting birds and the local bee hives which supply honey to the Island. When you reach the top of the hill there is a fantastic look out of the Island and a gorgeous picturesque view of Horse Shoe Bay.
One of the most amazing highlights of our holiday at Keswick Island was the thousands of butterflies which greeted us at the airstrip landing, during our trip up to our holiday house and then every morning, afternoon and evening when we visited the beach or just simply stood out our doorstep. Try shaking the branch of a tree and watch as they all fly from the tree – it was truly magical.
The beaches around the Island are lovely and secluded, with white sand and gorgeous turquoise water. When the tide is in you can enjoy a soaking up the sun and having a swim in the crystal clear water. When the tide is out you can really enjoy walking out and checking out the coral. There are thousands of different corals, shells and other exciting things to go exploring for. You can snorkel right off the beach, but its best done at low tide when you can really get out and adventure through the corals. Right on the beach is a fantastic picnic area, with a fridge, toilets and access to fresh water. Bring down your lunch or dinner and a nice bottle of wine and enjoy the sunset on your own private beach.
Take a walk along the secluded beach, and go searching for coconut trees! Although it can be a bit of an ordeal trying to get one down off the top of the tree (and watch out they don’t hit you!), once you get your hand on one it’s great fun trying to get it open. We were amazed to find so many coconuts, and we got the boys to hatch the coconut open with a screw driver. It went great with our Malibu and pineapple juice!
Take your friends and family, and your fishing rod down to the boat ramp and go fish! We caught a small reef shark during our time up there and ended up having homemade fish and chips for dinner one night. It was really great! You can easily jump into a boat or kayak and check out what the island has to offer. Just be careful – across from Keswick Island is St Bee’s Island and the channel between the two isn’t suitable for the light hearted swimmer. Make sure you take your life jackets! (Also, let me add in that we didn’t go snorkelling out there after we caught the shark…)
The house that we stayed in had amazing views overlooking the bay and the ocean back to Mackay. The balcony was amazing to sit out and have a read, enjoy fine company and just sit back and relax! When we first entered the house, it felt like coming home. As there are no access to local supermarkets or small stall – you really need to be organized in your groceries! The owners had stocked up the cupboard with non-perishables, spare alcohol, water, first aid items and all the little nicks and knacks you never think you will need!
While we were there we met some fantastic locals and went over to their places for Friday night drinks. Because the island was so small, the experience we had with both the Island manager and the locals was very personal – which was fantastic! The locals told us about how each and every house on the island runs purely on tank water and solar power, making the island very economically sustainable. They also told us that each and every house also has a fantastic view of the ocean and the island. It really would be such a lovely, quaint little place to live – without the hustle and bustle of traffic (or even cars, we traveled everywhere in buggy’s which came with the hire of our house) or the busy lifestyle that often accompanies city life.
Walking and Hiking
There are plenty of walking tracks all around the island. Some are rather long, and others are much shorter. Because the weather was quite warm while we were there, my friend and family preferred to take advantage of the beaches and the buggy’s (we were constantly going on buggy races, which was heaps of fun!). There is opportunity to go hiking to secluded parts of the island; in fact some of the beaches are only accessible on foot as the buggy’s cannot go off road. If you are interested in hiking or bush walking this would be a great opportunity to see some fantastic views and really experience first-hand the beautiful nature of the island.