Original article in the Australian Traveller
Australian Traveller reader Louise Croese is the winner of our 13 Summer Weekends competition.
“Pumpkin Island, a privately owned heaven off the coast of Yeppoon, where you hear jellyfish breathe and feed curlews by hand, who call thanks in the night. Did you know it was won by the previous owners in a game of cards? So the story goes.” – AT reader Louise Croese, Preston Vic
There’s a tiny island about 20min across the water off the Yeppoon coast, so secret it may not be on the map, called Pumpkin. Rumour has it she was won in a game of cards by a local fella named Roger who ran it as a private tourist haven for years until he sold it recently. I hear you can still book one of the six or so cabins and charter a private boat to take you and everything you need to live there for a while.
I mention it because it’s one of heaven’s most tranquil masterpieces, made brilliant by the intensity of Central Queensland sunlight on water so clear you can see the dugongs loll from your hammock under palms nestled in the sand. It’s so private it’s possible you’ll be the only person on the island. And even if you’re not, there’s an unwritten law to respect privacy, as if to speak out loud is sacrilegious. Noise or busyness interferes with the deep state of peace that’s so tangible you can hear it breathe. Curlews cry at night nestled in the sand in your presence at the dinner table on the deck. Heads back, throats open, goose bumps make you shiver in the heat as they share their haunting sounds.
There is some of the most amazing coral in the reefs that you’ll ever find, just sitting off the secluded beaches. You can stay on some of the other nearby islands or just visit Pumpkin for a day trip. You can circumnavigate the island in an hour if you hurry and ignore the incoming, outgoing tides, the dolphins, shells, the myriad of nature and the miracle of life, reminding you that you too are but a grain of sand in the bigger picture. Pumpkin strips you bare to frolic without care, the world another world away, until it’s time to wade and climb aboard the ship of life and wave goodbye to heaven until another day.
Other things to do:
Where: 16km off the coast of Yeppoon (681km north of Brisbane, 40km east of Rockhampton) within the Keppel group.
Contact: Lyn or Quentin on Pumpkin Island, (07) 4939 4413
What to take: Strong garbage bags, fishing and snorkelling gear and dive shoes for walking on the rocks.
Where to stay: Pumpkin Island’s Eco Resort. Five self-contained cabins sleep up to six, (07) 4939 4413.
Did you know: The Keppel group is also known as Wappaburra, which means “resting place.”
Story by Alison Cotes - News.com.au
THE Swiss Family Robinson never had it so good. Castaways on a deserted island in the novel of the same name, they were extremely resourceful, making a comfortable house in the treetops and having exciting adventures, and thousands of children of my generation wanted to do exactly the same.
But on Pumpkin Island in the Keppel Group of the Great Barrier Reef, it's all there waiting for you, and you don't have to hew wood or draw water, or do anything at all except cook your meals, which you take with you, either as DIY provisions or as huge catering gourmet packs from the Keppel Bay Marina.
Then it's 40 minutes on the Pumpkin Xpress from the marina, and you're on your own deserted island, castaways in paradise.
I've been to almost every island on the Reef, and Pumpkin is now in my Top 5 (and I'm not telling what the other four are). It has all the attributes that you expect on the Reef, such as sunsets and perfect weather and snorkelling and white sand and palm trees and pure turquoise water and dolphins and ... you know what I mean.
But it's also unique in that you really can feel as if you're the only people there. With only five cottages, hidden in the bush well away from each other, you can find your own little patch and avoid seeing anyone.
We stayed at the honeymoon cottage, Pebble Point, at the very tip of the island, with beaches and rock pools on both sides. In two days the only people we saw were a mother and toddler wandering along the beach below the veranda. We swam (or would have, had the water been a bit warmer) just steps away from our cottage, and at low tide could have swum across to Little Pumpkin Island, which looks like a stranded humpback whale.
We ate aged grass-fed beef from Banana Station, which we cooked on the gas-fired barbecue on the deck and which was preceded by oysters (which we didn't prise off the rocks, although we could have), crabs and prawns.
Sometimes you just don't want the dream to end.
In the distance, we saw the blow of a whale, and owner-managers Wayne and Laureth, who live on the island, reported there had been quite a few lately. They don't offer whale-watching tours, but if you go out in a tinnie you may be surprised at what you see. That's before you've caught enough mackerel and sweetlip for dinner.
October and November are the best months for these fish, and it's also turtle mating season, and we saw quite a few huge females in the water.
One not-to-be-missed experience, which I'm determined to do before I die, is what's called "sex on the reef" the annual coral spawning in November, where millions of corals release eggs and sperm in a mass synchronised event, creating what looks like an upside-down snow storm in rainbow colours.
It occurs four or five days after the full moon. This year's projected dates will be available on the greatbarrierreefinfo.com website any day now.
But even without coral spawning, Pumpkin is my kind of island. It has the most impressive list of ecological credentials you could hope to see, and is completely carbon neutral, functioning off the grid with only natural solar and wind power. It was awarded the Advance Ecotourism certification in November 2009.
Each cabin has its own rainwater tank for pure filtered chemical-free water.
It is indeed a very special island, and I urge you to look at the website to see what else it offers. It's suitable for families and couples, and when I win the lottery I'm going to hire the whole island for my birthday next year, and take 30 of my very best friends. And we may never come back just as long as Kylie keeps sending those catering packs of Banana Station beef and crabs every second day.
This gorgeous resort on Queensland’s lush Capricorn Coast has become the first private island in Australia to gain “carbon-positive” status.
Article on Private Island News
When it comes to small islands, the environmental impact of people is readily felt – garbage can’t simply be trucked to a landfill, erosion causes obvious damage to the shoreline and beaches, and natural habitats, once destroyed, rarely come back to full health. Every decision to alter an island has visible and often immediate consequences, and perhaps this is why island owners tend to be keenly aware of the importance of sustainable living. On Pumpkin Island, a boutique resort in Australia’s tropical paradise of central Queensland, the owners have taken this green ethos to the extreme.
Wayne Rumble and Laureth Craggs, now have the honour of owning Australia’s first “carbon positive” island resort. Not only is Pumpkin Australia’s first carbon-positive island, but it can boast of being only the second in the world to achieve that status, preceded only by the extensively-managed Galapagos archipelago. Through careful management and participation in emission-offsetting programs, the island, including all business travel associated with running it, now puts less waste into the environment than conserves.
According to Laureth, they used sustainable energy sources like wind and solar power, reduced waste, and limited boat transfers to help reach their ambitious target. Through participation in a sustainability project managed by Tourism Queensland, Capricorn Enterprise and EC3 Global, they also partnered with Cleaner Climate Ltd. to offset their carbon output with a hydro project in Vietnam. So what motivated this green movement on the island? According to the owners, it was the beautiful Great Barrier Reef environment right outside their door.
“As Pumpkin Island is located in one of the most celebrated, cherished ecosystems and one of the 7 wonders of the world, we are constantly inspired by our surroundings. The island’s sustainability policies and initiatives encourage an awareness of the importance of conserving our environment in order for future generations to share in the beauty and serenity provided by pristine surroundings,” they said.
Wayne and Laureth described their philosophy as seeking harmony with nature; “Pumpkin Island strives to promote meaningful responsible travel to a pristine natural area, which conserves the environment and its resources and improves the welfare of its visitors by being in close contact with nature.” Indeed, each season brings with it new wonders; in October, humpback whales can be seen migrating through the Coral Sea, and turtles can be glimpsed on the island as mating season begins.
The small, 5-residence resort also aims for an intimate feel that goes beyond the conventional, mass-marketed holiday. The simple beach cottages are secluded and feature a breezy décor, and on Pumpkin, the focus is on its unspoilt nature – and on giving visitors a taste of a new lifestyle. “We would like to show guests what travel can be like. They share in the lifestyle of Pumpkin Island and remain friends with the island after they leave. Pumpkin Island is a life experience, rather than a brief holiday.”
Story by Nikita Watts - Morning Bulletin
IT’S nature that powers the scenic and tranquil Pumpkin Island off the Capricorn Coast. The small resort island, owned by partners Wayne Rumble and Laureth Craggs since 2003, has just been named the first carbon-positive island in Australia.
In eight years, the pair has transformed the five beach cottages into eco-friendly villas boasting wind and solar power, filtered rainwater and LPG gas hot water, refrigerator/freezers and barbecues.
They also use bio fuels, reduced the boat transfers with scheduled runs via the vessel Pumpkin Xpress and reduced waste to landfill.
They calculated the island’s carbon emissions in travel, fuel, gas and waste for the year July 2009 to June 2010, which totalled 32.5 tonnes.
Laureth said it was easy to calculate as they used receipts and bills to break down items such as fuel used over the year and then entered the totals into an online carbon
They even worked out each guest produced 57kg of carbon, which Laureth said was “very little”, taking into account most residents on the mainland used coal-powered electricity, which was the biggest contribution to carbon emissions.
They approached carbon offsetting partners Cleaner Climate Ltd and are now offsetting 36 tonnes of emissions through a hydropower or water power renewable energy project in Vietnam called Dak Rung Hydro Power; a project that reduces 17,247 tonnes of carbon annually. This means the island is offsetting more carbon than it creates, rendering it carbon-positive.
Laureth said aspiring to be the first carbon-positive island was hard work and came at a big expense, but it had now paid off as the island had no power or water bills.
“It was a long time in the making and we do still have fuel bills for the boat, the quad bike and lawnmower and also gas,” she said.
“We are changing the hot water to solar. We have one so far, and we have a lot of plans
in the pipeline.”
Laureth said they were not trying to make the island exclusive to target eco-tourists, they simply wanted to be more sustainable, minimise their carbon footprint and educate guests and staff.
She said about 3% of guests travelled to the island on their own boats, and the carbon from those vessels could not be calculated in the total.