A Great Barrier Reef island owned by a friend of the British royal family is on the market for a price of up to $30 million.
After achieving development approval with the Queensland government to turn Keswick island into a residential and tourism resort, its owner, Keswick Developments, owned by Edward Dawson-Damer, a former equerry to Queen Elizabeth and a family friend to the royal family, has decided to sell it and move onto other ventures.
The new owner will have a 117-hectare development lease with the Queensland government until 2096. Altogether, the island is 517 hectares with 400 hectares of national park.
The purchase will also give the buyer a 25-hectare seabed lease for a 180-berth marina and deep water jetty. The mixed-use zoning on the sub-tropical island can accommodate 1000 dwellings and 3000 people.
The island, 32 kilometres off the coast of Mackay, already has a sealed airstrip, 150 subdivided lots, and preliminary key infrastructure for ongoing development.
Another $100 million will be required to complete the resort. Chinese interest
It has already attracted the attention of several Chinese billionaires and developers.
Only a strong and large Chinese tourism market, particularly in Queensland, which is able to inject a high number of visitors to the island can make the resort profitable, marketing agent Colliers International’s Steam Leung said.
“The island being in the Great Barrier Reef is particularly unique and a very important destination for Chinese tourists,” he said.
“With a development approval out of the way, the other challenge is getting the numbers; the Australian population is not big enough.”
“Also, many Chinese developers realised, to buy something this unique is not that expensive, and they can make the resort work with their own market.”
Chinese developer Ridong Group founder Li Riyu is said to be interested. Ridong Group already has a strong development footprint Queensland, building the 512-apartment luxury apartment project “Jewel” with Chinese mega developer Dalian Wanda on the Gold Coast.
Newcomer Chinese developers from Hangzhou and Guangzhou are also inspecting the island.
Keswick Island is not the only island attracting interests from Asian buyers. Hayman Island is owned by Malaysian conglomerate Mulpha.
“This is such an exciting opportunity as it is possibly the last chance to create a residential and tourism vision in the Great Barrier Reef’s spectacular Whitsunday region – an area regarded internationally as a ‘must-see’ destination,” said Keswick Developments chief executive officer Eytan Udovich.
Expressions of interest for the island close in late August.
This article was originally published by the Australian Financial Review.