Journals of Conscious Travel & Lifestyle

Tag: Sailing

Percy Island Adventure

Percy Island (‘Middle Percy Island’) is one of the Percy Group in the Whitsunday islands. It’s 70 miles out from Mackay on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and is only visited by seasoned sailors. As you approach the white palm-fringed beach of Percy Island’s main anchorage at West Bay, a wooden A-frame hut comes into view…

I could see some sort of large shed on the beach

We anchored at West Bay easily with calm waters not far from shore, and paddled kayaks to the beach. It was like something from a castaway film.

Percy Hilton, Percy Island

Percy Hilton

The ‘large shed’ we could see from the boat is an A-frame hut with a quirky hand-written sign naming it the ‘Percy Hilton’,  filled with plaques bearing boat names and souvenirs left by passing boats over the years. I imagine passing yachties may have sheltered here when anchoring, perhaps staying for a while when seas were rough.

Percy Island swing

Me on Percy Island Hilton swing

The view from the 'Percy Hilton' Percy Island

The view from the ‘Percy Hilton’

Boat shed Percy Island

Giddyup Go boat plaque Percy Island

Our boat’s plaque, left here a few years ago

Boat plaques Percy Island

Yachtie memorabilia Percy Island

Yachtie memorabilia left over the years

View from West Bay Percy Island

There’s a hut that works as a book exchange chock-full of books and more random memorabilia.

Percy Island Book Exchange

Percy Island Book Exchange

Boat signs Percy Island

Bra Percy Island

At the other end of the beach is a big ramshackle multi-level treehouse, with windows overlooking the beach.

A couple of local guys and and a group of other yachties who had just arrived were on the beach when we visited. One of the guys showed us around the treehouse. We walked up the ladder through three levels with basic bedrooms. I bet there are some stories from that place!

Treehouse Percy Island, Whitsundays

The tree house!

Steps up the treehouse Percy Island

Steps up the treehouse

Bedroom 1 in the treehouse Percy Island

Bedroom 1 in the treehouse

Bedroom 2 in the treehouse Percy Island

Bedroom 2 in the treehouse

A ute passed and the drivers asked if the other yachties and I wanted to see the rest of the island. Of course I said yes, and we got an unofficial tour of the island while Ric waited on shore (he’d seen it before and there wasn’t space for him). We drove along a steep narrow dusty track for five minutes to the middle of the island and stopped at a ramshackle old house high on the hill overlooking the ocean. Tropical fruit trees surrounded the house.

Dinghy Winch Percy Island

Dinghy Winch Percy Island

The ranger / caretaker showed us around and we met a tall lean German guy who lived on the island, and an older woman who lived in the main house. The German guy had come to the island as a backpacker 20 years ago and never left! He said he had arrived a vegetarian, but living on the small island meant he’d adapted to available food by hunting wild pigs!

Durian Fruit, Percy Island

Durian Fruit

The yachtie guys asked if the the islanders had any limes they could buy to go with their rum. The German guy suggested we to go find some limes, so off we went on his motorbike, whizzing around the island looking for lime bushes.

Prickly pears, Percy Island

Prickly pears

We saw various trees and bushes along the way before we finally found the lime bush he’d had in mind, but it didn’t seem to be fruiting, except one old lime in the middle which wasn’t worth risking the thorns to get to. There are some incredible viewpoints from Percy Island across the sparkling blue sea dotted with islands.

View of Whitsunday islands from Percy Island

View of islands from Percy Island

Back at the main house the German guy said he’d guide me and the yachties back if we wanted to hike through the island. En route we stopped at his little wooden house that he’d built himself.

Me and the German guy on his newly built yoga deck

He’d recently installed a big wooden deck overlooking the ocean where he practiced yoga. What a life! After a quick photo on the deck we all set off walking back to the beach where we were anchored.

Lagoon, Percy Island

It was pretty hot, and the hike took much longer than I expected. We passed through some tough terrain and had to jump over a lagoon at one point!

Boat Jetty, Lagoon, Percy Island

Calm Blue Lagoon, Percy Island

There isn’t much info about Percy Island online, but the few articles I found were fascinating.

An entertaining old Independent article about the late ‘eccentric Englishman’ Andy Martin who held the island lease for years claims he abandoned his family in England and moved to the island circa 30 years ago. The writer was his step-son and went to visit him on Percy Island years later as an adult. He wrote an amusing but abrupt account of his trip, including some crazy island history about botanists being eaten by the original inhabitants, three gold-diggers who visited only to be murdered, commit suicide and disappear, corpses of escaped convicts found washed up on the beach after their stolen yacht sank and treasure being buried and never found.  –  The Riddle of Percy Island. 

A more informative article with info about anchorages is here.

I visited Percy Island for the day while on a slow month-long sailing trip on a 40 foot catamaran from Airlie Beach to Hervey Bay in 2014. We stopped and explored many islands including Lady Musgrave and the fascinating abandoned resort on Brampton Island.

The Percy Isles are only accessible by private boat and aren’t included on tours that I know of. I’m glad I got to see the island, and feel lucky given it’s not on the tourist trail. I hope it’s unique quirky charm is preserved for years to come.

Our entry in the log book

Lady Musgrave Island

One of the highlights of sailing the East Coast of Australia was Lady Musgrave Island, a coral cay on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, about 2.5 hours out from Bundaberg, Queensland by boat. We reached the island towards the end of our trip.

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Brampton Island – An Abandoned Resort

While sailing around the Whitsunday Islands in 2014 I learned some of the islands were abandoned resorts. I find abandoned places fascinating so was keen to stop by one of the abandoned islands. 

Brampton island isn’t the only abandoned resort; Hinchinbrook, Hook and Lindeman islands have all been left dilapidated too. South Molle island used to be ‘Koala Adventure’  island and the old rooms and infrastructure are still there, but it’s now used as a research facility.

After a few days sailing round other islands we arrived at Brampton Island late afternoon to find one other boat anchored there. Rick who I was sailing with dropped me off the Tender boat near the dilapidated pier. He stayed aboard our catamaran. I walked along some old rickety rail lines which must have trolleyed tourists up to the resort.

A group of guys from the other boat came to have a look round too, and we wandered round the abandoned bar and beach area discussing why it might have been left, and whether there was really a caretaker that lived there, given there was no sign of anyone. There were a few signs warning trespassers to keep away.

The guys went back to their boat and I continued to explore alone. It was really creepy seeing a modern resort just left like it was suddenly abandoned and I felt a bit on edge walking around on my own. The ground was littered with palm fronds and old coconuts, and I was aware one could drop any moment!

It was possible to get into some of the rooms as the doors were open. They were dusty and messy, as though there had been people in them only weeks ago, but a storm has swept in.

Everything was still there in the rooms – beds, TVs, furniture and pictures on the wall.  I even considered tidying up and staying in one of the rooms to have a break from the boat from a night as we’d had rough seas. We had an issue with the mast and it had been keeping me up at night clanging, so the idea of being still for a night was tempting. (first world problems I realise!) They weren’t in the best state though and lugging bedding off the boat would have been effort.

I was scared a coconut could fall from the non-maintained palm trees and fall on my head. They were so high my head would probably crack like a coconut!

Making my way through the foliage outside a block of holiday chalets, I walked straight into a spider web and came face to face with a huge spider. I’m pretty scared of spiders!

I was pretty tense walking round, as I didn’t know what I’d stumble on, literally. Being the only person on an abandoned island is quite a spooky feeling. Rick was anchored too far away to hear if I shouted and if anything happened it would be a while before he would come to find me!

While walking round one of the blocks I smelled a disgusting smell like something dead, and was horrified to come across a huge decaying dead kangaroo.

I should probably have turned back but I was fascinated and kept exploring. I found some sort of sports centre with a gym. Weights and machines were left…an old snail-eaten copy of Men’s Health…medicine balls….

In the reception area tea bags and toiletries were left sitting there. I imagined staff and happy holiday makers chatting, excited about their holiday. ‘Brampton Island’ was written across the glass in fancy writing.

Kangaroos roamed amongst jet skis and other expensive abandoned equipment….at the far edge of the development I even found an old airfield and landing strip for small planes!

I visited Brampton Island for the day while on a slow month-long sailing trip on a 40 foot catamaran from Airlie Beach to Hervey Bay in 2014. We stopped and explored many islands including Lady Musgrave and Percy Island.

By bizarre coincidence a few weeks after visiting the island I met someone at a party in Mackay who knew the people who were going to buy and restore the Brampton Island resort.

I’d be interested to go back to Brampton Island one day when it’s developed. But in some ways it’s more interesting when abandoned!

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