Monday, 2 November 2015

Brampton Island – An eerie ghost town in paradise.

17-20 October 2015

The next stop on our way North was to be Brampton Island, a place that generated very different memories for the two of us. Rob spent a considerable amount of time on the island in his days as a floor coverings contractor working on the resort’s major redevelopment 28 years ago and has always spoken of it as one of the great Barrier Reef’s most beautiful places. Karen on the other hand has a very different reason for Brampton Island to be etched in her memory.

Looking across to Pelican Island from Brampton at low tide.

It was here as a nine year old child that her family took to a life raft and abandoned ship when her parent’s game fishing boat, Wahoo, was trapped anchored on a lee shore with broken steering and a cyclone bearing down on them. After three days, the increasing ferocity of the approaching tropical storm made the risk of staying aboard with two small children too great. The life raft was safely blown onto the beach and after a trek over the island’s mountainous interior they were able to shelter at the resort until the cyclone passed. When conditions eased, Wahoo was found still riding on the three anchors her father had set before making the difficult decision to leave her.

This area of Brampton Island held strong memories for Karen.
Our sail from Keswick and St Bees across to Brampton was far less dramatic. The wind was almost directly astern again with a good size swell rolling under us. As we passed the bay where Karen's experience had occurred it stirred many memories.

The South East swell splashes on Brampton's shores.
We rounded the western end of the island and anchored in the bay near the now mothballed resort. It provides excellent protection from South Easterly winds and was to be our home for the next four days.

Keswick/St Bees to Brampton Island - 18.3 Nautical Miles - 4 Hours 0 Minutes
Average Speed 4.6 knots - High Speed 7.7 knots

The anchorage at Brampton provides good protection from the South East trade winds.
Calm water despite 20+ knots of South Easterly wind blowing.
We were now just a day sail away from the Whitsunday Islands.

Brampton Islands super clear water and golden beaches were just as we remembered them.
Most of Brampton Island is National Park with the 220 bed resort and its airstrip occupying a relatively small area adjoining the shallow passage between it and Carlisle Island. It was bought by United Petroleum in 2010 and closed the following year. Since then there has been much talk about an all new, seven star resort being built in its place but not a thing has actually been done. What was once a jewel in the string of Great Barrier Reef Island resorts now resembles the set of some sort of horror movie.

Brampton's neglected accommodation blocks are still fully furnished.
Karen made the comment that it looks like some alien force descended one day and abducted all the occupants leaving the place an instant ghost town totally devoid of all human life. Accommodation blocks sit fully furnished complete with paintings hanging on the walls. Jet skis sit on their trailers under an awning, Hobbie Cats rest on the sand outside the water sports centre,  outdoor pool tables near reception are ready for a game of eight ball while the stage in the bar silently waits for the long gone musicians to strike up their instruments.

Lonely boats with no one to sail them.

Jet skis ready to rock

Sun umbrellas, and beach badminton racquets ready for non-existent holiday makers at the water-sports desk.

Tennis rackets lay on the courts with strings rotting in the tropical sun and the once lush gardens are being reclaimed by nature, now overgrown and covered with fallen palm fronds. The only sign of life on the all par three golf course was a kangaroo bounding down what once a fairway. Rob was extremely sad to see what he remembered as such a vibrant, beautiful resort reduced to this.
Anyone for tennis?

Right down the centre of the fairway.

During our stay at the island, we swam, wandered the golden sand beaches, eat some fantastic food as always and socialised with other cruisers in the anchorage. Karen was thrilled to find Kerri, on the catamaran Quiet Achiever ,was a fellow artist and the two spent time on the beach sketching together.

Karen beach combing.

Karen used a huge cuttlefish skeleton she found as the centre piece for a still life sketch.
You can see a lot more of Karen's art on her Facebook page Karen Oberg Artist

Karen's other creative outlet on Our Dreamtime is coming up with amazing new dishes such as these stuffed squid tubes.
Her sundowner snacks are always popular in the anchorage

Mackerel steak and Karen's hand made salsa

Caprice Salad - Many of Karen's recipes can be found at the Our Galley page of our blog
Rob got a little adventurous and tackled the climb to the top of the island. The various walks through the national park areas of the island are well maintained and take you through a nice range of native vegetation.
The tree canopy is well populated with birds while goannas and kangaroos seem plentiful. Butterflies float in the air all over the island and are found in their hundreds in groves of trees along the trail.
This goanna was well camouflaged in the dry undergrowth.

One of the locals checking out the visitor

Three of these were sighted but all scooted too fast to get a photo.
From the anchorage, the walk to the two lookouts near the summit is almost a ten kilometre round trip and reasonably steep in places. The views from the top make all the effort worthwhile however.


Ten kilometres up to the top and back called for a nice refreshing dip to cool off.
Note the butterflies photo bombing this shot.
Our time at Brampton Island passed very quickly. It really is such a nice place it would have been very easy to spend quite a few more days there but the call of the North was still strong.  It was time to keep moving on but we do hope to stop in again on our return trip South.
Two sunset shots for this blog seeing there was none for the last one.
Good night from Brampton Island.

UPDATE - November 2017

Brampton Island Resort has been put back on the market after being closed since it was last bought by United Petroleum for 5.9 Million Dollars (Aud) in 2011. Let's hope something nice is now done there.


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  1. How strange that everything is still sitting there at the hotel like that!
    Looks like a lovely spot

    1. It is quite bizarre the way the resort has been left. Brampton Island itself is still very beautiful though. We will definitely be going back there. Cheers.

  2. So as long as I can get there I can stay for free. Customer service might be a problem


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