Face Lift for a Southern Lady
The first island of the southern Great Barrier Reef, the coral cay Lady Elliot, has been receiving some attention over the past twelve months. This is how long it is since aviation entrepreneur Peter Gash, in partnership with sporting personality Grant Kenny and Gold Coast Lawyer Michael Kyle, took over the commonwealth lease of the popular holiday island and its resort.
Unique among the islands of the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot is one of only 3 true coral cays with a resort, and the only one with its own airstrip. Since the opening of its resort in 1985, Lady Elliot has been an extremely popular destination with Australian families and international visitors alike. Known for its pristine surrounding reef and accessibility for snorkelling and divers as well as its proximity for visitors to South East QLD, particularly Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
The island resort on Lady Elliot is a low key and comfortable affair which seeks no attention for its styling. Instead it lets the 6 star reef surrounding the cay speak for itself, and sceptics quickly become champions of the islands beauty. Regardless, managing director Peter Gash concedes that the resort needed some work when he took over last year, and in true entrepreneurial style he has been busy making this happen.
Over the past twelve months hundreds of man hours and untold dollars have been poured into giving this Lady her face lift, and it hasn't finished yet. Gash makes it clear that the character of the resort is to remain as it is. 'We have families who have been coming every year for the past twenty, we"re not about to turn this place into just another 5 star resort out of the reach of most people’. The islands appeal, Gash says, is in its low key friendly atmosphere, as well as its stunning location of course.
Some of the refurbishment work which has taken place includes a start on repainting the entire resort, new roofing for the reef education centre and restaurant facilities, renovating bathrooms and replacing furniture and bedding in many of the islands units as well as investment in a new dive compressor and fill panel for the islands PADI dive shop. The islands lagoon dining room has not missed out either, with new outdoor furniture, and Gash’s baby, "the Worlds best bar”. The Queensland hardwood leaning spot in front of the dining room overlooks the islands coral lagoon and as Gash claims, you’d be hard pressed to find a better spot to take an afternoon drink.
Environmental considerations play a big part in the islands management and in keeping with its classification as a green zone by GBRMPA, water, waste and reef management have been among the primary areas of concern for the ongoing upgrades. The island desalinates its own water, treats its own waste and is responsible for the management of the protected marine environment surrounding it. Recent upgrades include brand new waste outflow tanks, testing equipment and the employing of a consultant to manage compliance with GBRMPA regulations. New recycling facilities, water saving equipment and reef management initiatives such as renewing the moorings for vessels around the island and signage to direct her guests as they experience the reef have all contributed to this effort.
According to Gash these changes are just the start though, “we know we have one of the most impressive islands in the whole of Australia, not just on the Great Barrier Reef, and we really intend doing what it takes to keep this place an exciting and special place to visit”.
Lady Elliot’s new website www.LadyElliot.com.au has just been launched and is a great place to keep up to date with what’s going on, including the ongoing face lift of one of the Great Barrier Reef’s most spectacular Lady’s.