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Island of the People:
A Story of Wop-pa/ Great Keppel Island
By John E. Grimes

Thousands of visitors to the islands of the Great Barrier Reef know Great Keppel Island is ‘a great place to get wrecked’. The island has been a must visit for tourists for many decades.


But how many know the history of this place as South Keppel Island or, more importantly, as Woppa? Or of its first inhabitants, the Woppa-burra, the people of the island?

This book presents a history of this beautiful, fragile piece of paradise under all three of its names and reveals its significance to the lives of many of its generations of land and sea peoples.

Spectator article on Island of the People.

Date November 11, 2022.

The history of Great Keppel Island has been brought to life in a fascinating new book.

Author, Yeppoon resident, John Grimes, has explored the human and natural history of the island including the occupation by the Woppa-burra, the unsuccessful efforts to graze and farm by the earliest European settlers and the gradual growth of the tourism industry culminating in the closure of the main resort and the rise of smaller independent tourist enterprises.

‘I hope that readers will understand more of the original people, the Woppa-burra, and be uplifted by the many wonderful stories about the local people and families incorporated within its pages that have made Great Keppel a most cherished part of the story of Central Queensland,’ John Grimes said.

Island of the People also celebrates the strong connection that the many generations of Central Queenslanders have, who have made the short trip across Keppel Bay to bask in the white sands, perfect beaches, fringing coral reefs and intriguing mountains and ridges of this welcoming place.

‘I have also examined in some detail the period where Tower Holdings bought the main resort and subsequently closed it down. The company was to deliver an unprecedented level of tourism development. Any construction work still remains to be seen on the ground,’ said Mr Grimes.


Latest news

We are very pleased to share a review of Island of the People by Dr Michael Rowland of James Cook University.

Clearly written, great photos, comprehensive, balanced, well referenced etc. Congratulations!


The quality of the production is exceptional -the paper quality, the layout, the vignettes, the number of photos, appendices, references etc.

I have seen a few local history books of various quality and this is certainly a number one.

Further reading

If you are interested in further reading about Woppa/ Keppel Island, look into Cruising the Queensland Coast by Greg Luck. The most recent 2023 edition is available here.

Other Coorooman Press Publications
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