Added: Rudolph Huston - Date: 08.10.2021 15:21 - Views: 27885 - Clicks: 1987
There's trouble brewing in paradise as Australian residents find themselves being squeezed out of an idyllic island lifestyle by a Chinese developer.
Keswick Island could be one of Australia's best tourist spots but instead its new owners China Bloom are trying to stop Aussies from even setting foot on the public beach. I think that they want to have this island solely for the use of the Chinese tourism market," former island resident Julie Willis told A Current Affair. Keswick Island is part of the iconic Whitsundays group nestled inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and is predominantly national park - which has now fallen into the hands of Chinese Developers. Getting there should be a short flight from Mackay, but the new owners have closed the airstrip to residents.
To get there now, it's a 30 kilometre trip by boat and locals are also banned from docking at the public barge ramp. The welcome s are up but other s warning people to "keep out" are popping up all over the island, causing concern for locals.
The new s even extend to the waters of Basil Bay — claiming the pristine beach is off limits to the public. Ms Willis and her partner Robert Lee rented on Keswick Island for six years until they were given three days to vacate in February.
After being evicted from the island as renters, Mr Lee and Ms Willis ed a contract to purchase a mortgagee repossession. China Bloom, which now owns the main lease on the island, has blocked homeowners from renting out their properties, even on Airbnb, destroying local tourism. Rayna Asbury has owned her property on the island for 15 years and said China Bloom is the first to cause so many roadblocks for locals. Retired chiropractor Craig Gilberd, who now calls this stunning place home, was most affected by the airstrip closure as he used to fly his small plane back and forth to the mainland.
I've landed on that airstrip times without incident," Mr Gilberd said. Keswick Island is owned by the Queensland Government with 80 per cent of its hectares deemed a national park.
China Bloom purchased the head lease on the remaining 20 per cent last year, the terms of which are very clear. China Bloom's agent in Australia is a company called Greaton Holdings. It has over a billion dollars' worth of construction projects underway across the country including the new W Hotel in Sydney's Darling Harbour. While Daydream has been rebuilt into a resort, others like St Bees have been all but abandoned.
St Bees Island, which is not connected to China Bloom, recently had eight commercial fishing nets seized by Fisheries Queensland. The residents have taken their concerns to Queensland's Premier who has ly told media she's not across the issue.
A spokesperson for the Department of Resources said in a statement: "The majority of the issues raised by a small of sublessees do not fall under the terms of the lease and are a commercial matter between them and the head lessee to resolve. The Department's responsibility is to work with both the head lessee China Bloom and sublessees to ensure all relevant activities are in accordance with the terms of the lease, particularly as China Bloom works to upgrade the island's ro, boat ramps, jetties and marine infrastructure.
The majority of the issues raised by a small of sublessees do not fall under the terms of the lease and are a commercial matter between them and the head lessee to resolve. To date, no party has formally applied to undertake mediation or arbitration, an option available to them under the Land Act Officers from the Department of Environment and Science investigated beach areas where island management had conducted works and did not observe any evidence of turtle nests or permanent impact to habitat.
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Residents frustrated by developer's management of Keswick island