On Keswick Island, 30km from Mackay in the Whitsundays, life has changed dramatically.
Land-based access to sections of the national park have been “locked” or blocked with boulders; keep out signs have been erected along the foreshore.
The airstrip is no longer accessible and, worst of all according to locals, one of the island’s most majestic public beaches is off limits.
The picturesque playground in the Coral Sea is being controlled by a Chinese developer who has gone to ground after purchasing the 96-year lease for 117 hectares with plans to develop a tourist resort to accommodate 3000 people.
China Bloom, through Adelaide-based agent Greaton Holdings, took control of the largest lease on the subtropical island in 2019 after it was listed for sale at just under $20 million.
But the small community that calls the 530 hectares of Keswick Island home has been banned from accessing large parts of public land, including the national park (which accounts for 400 hectares).
Buggy access to the esplanade on beautiful Basil Bay is now off limits. The track is blocked with rocks and “permit only” signs.