This is a trip report with a difference! Shane T recently had what he describes as a “truly fantastic day”, flying from Gladstone Airport to now derelict and abandoned Great Keppel Island and back.
Shane’s trip was with local pilot Andrew, who is the co-owner of a wholesale sales company called Central Queensland Distributors. They were flying in the ‘workhorse’ aircraft of the company, 1978-build Cessna 210 Centurion VH-TET (or just ‘TET’ as it is known!).
TET is predominately flown for work related reasons, flying to many locations around Australia, particularly to remote communities, hauling goods linked to the business. For example, TET has flown from Gladstone to locations in West Australia, including as far away as Broome.
Today though, TET was being used for a rare, recreational flight. After departing Gladstone at 10am, and after briefly flying South over Gladstone City, TET turned, and started trekking Northbound along the Gladstone Harbour. Some nice views as TET flew past the huge Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project on Curtis Island. Shortly after, the first part of the journey was completed by flying above “The Narrows”. This again produced some fantastic photos!
“The Narrows” is the river system that separates Curtis Island from the mainland, and travels for quite some distance.
During the journey North to Great Keppel Island, TET flew between 1000-1500 feet, depending on the landscape below, and whether it was worth a closer look! TET averaged a speed of about 170 knots. Andrew’s chosen altitude ensured the aircraft flew just below the cloud cover that day. Conditions outside were described as rather 'wintery'!
Inside TET’s cockpit, Shane was interested to note the digital Garmin GPS attached to the 'controls', as well as an analogue GPS fitted to the upper-section of the dashboard. The analogue device, which was in fact from a Hummer vehicle that served in Afghanistan, is used as a 'back-up' in the event of a failure with the more modern digital system.
Before landing at Great Keppel Island, Andrew took TET for a circuit above the island, which provided the opportunity for some more great pictures of the derelict resort Island. In Shane’s photos, a small mirror attached to the brace of the starboard wing can be seen. This is so the pilot can visually inspect the wheels are in fact 'up' or 'down' as indicated in the cockpit.
Landing on the island was spectacular and uphill on Runway 12. TET was parked at the ‘terminal’, and Shane and Andrew (and the other passengers) went for a walk around the derelict island.
It’s worth mentioning that while the main resort on Great Keppel Island was operational, the Airport was once frequently visited by various airlines such as Air Queensland, Australian Regional, and later Sunstate Airlines, as well as various other light general aviation traffic. The latter two predominately used the De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter to operate flights to Great Keppel Island from the mainland.
Some good pictures can be found on aviation image websites such as Jetphotos.net - readers will note the immaculate resort style presentation of the terminal – as in the photos above.
What Shane saw at Great Keppel Island was completely unexpected – a sight that Shane described as “something from the movies”. The island and its resort and other accommodation, as well as all the island shops and eateries have been abandoned, and left sit to rot in the tropical Queensland weather.
The main resort on Great Keppel Island has been closed for some time and since then, the island has been left completely abandoned, and left to deteriorate. In that time mother-nature has been reclaiming her rightful land and that is truly a sight to behold.
Also, what remains of the airport facilities – runway, taxiway, and terminal – are all is a very poor condition. While the airport is no longer maintained at Great Keppel Island, the sealed runway remains open for use by light aircraft. The runway length is a relatively short 2700 feet, at an elevation of 250 feet. There is also quite an elevation too!
After spending about an hour on the ground checking out the derelict resort and airport, TET was once again airborne for the Southerly return flight to Gladstone Airport.
During our trip back to Gladstone, TET flew at a more casual pace of about 135 knots, and at an altitude that varied between 700 and 1500 feet.
Shane would like to thank Andrew for allowing him the opportunity for the enjoyable morning of flying.
Central Queensland Distributors is Australia's premier online wholesale and distribution company. For more information, you can access their website HERE.