Upgrading for eco Resort on Lady Elliot
MONTHS after securing the lease on Lady Elliot Island,Olympian Grant Kenny and aviation businessman Peter Gash plan to refurbish the island's eco resort.
In association with lawyer Michael Kyle, they plan to refurbish its Heritage-listed lighthouse and convert the lightkeeper's dwellings into upmarket accommodation.
The resort has 44 accommodation units ranging from tent-style eco huts up to two-bedroom reef 'suites. It currently sleeps a maxim urn of 150 people at anyone time.
Mr Kenny said despite it being a resort since the late 1960s, Lady Elliot Island was still somewhat of a secret.
"I'd bet that very few people would even know what a paradise it is and just how close it is to the mainland capital cities," said Mr Kenny.
Situated 80km northeast of Bundaberg and 320km north of Brisbane, it is the southern-most inhabited island on the reef.
It's one of only three coral cays with a resort (the others being Heron and Green Islands) and' the only one with its own airstrip.
Visitors have access to snorkelling, scuba diving, turtle and whale watching, and reef walking.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has strict environmental regulations governing the operation of the island resort but the new operators plan to be even tougher.
Mr Gash, said safeguards were only the starting point as far as the new leaseholders were concerned.
"We intend to raise the bar even higher to make the island an environmental showpiece," Mr Gash said.
He first visited the island in 1980 and has been flying day trips there from Coolangatta on the Gold Coast since 1985.
"Uppermost in our minds is that we don't own Lady Elliot, we are its stewards, entrusted with the responsibility of preserving it for future generations," Mr Gash said.
He secured a long-term lease from and invited Mr Kenny and Mr Kyle to join him in refurbishing and relaunching the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, while protecting the 42ha island's environmental treasures.
It is a requirement that between $2 million and $3 million be spent on maintenance and refurbishment in the early years of the lease, which will improve accommodation standards on the island but leave the existing development footprint unchanged.
"This tiny coral cay is the Great Barrier Reef in miniature: birds, marine life, spectacular coral, everything that makes the reef an Australian icon," Mr Kenny said.
In 1873, because the island was a hazard to mariners, a lighthouse was built and continued to operate until it was automated in 1980. The structure has been replaced by a modern tower but the original lighthouse remains in place and is to be preserved. In 1969 island pioneer Don Adams began an extensive revegetation program, built the airstrip and developed the first low-key resort. The existing resort has its own water desalination plant and sewage treatment system. All rubbish is either recycled or shipped back to the mainland.