Originally named ‘Sand Hills’, Keppel Sands was founded on fishing and farming when first settled in the late 1800s. To this day it remains an idyllic village-style township with a unique way of life.
The area is spectacularly beautiful. This author had the pleasure of living in Keppel Sands for around ten years during the 1980s and 1990s where I raised my young family, so I will admit to some bias. 😃
40 kms from Rockhampton, and 39 kms from Yeppoon, Keppel Sands is part of the Capricorn Coast and falls within the council area of Livingstone Shire.
Geography isolated Keppel Sands from the more tourist-oriented coastal towns to the north. Also the town backs onto two creeks and extensive tidal salt flats, limiting its potential for future expansion.
The northern edge of town borders the broad-mouthed Coorooman Creek. This major waterway separates Keppel Sands from Zilzie and Emu Park. All the communities are visible to each other from opposite sides of the creek, however the distance by road is 35 kms.
On the southern fringe of Keppel Sands is Pumpkin Creek, and 25 kms further south is the Fitzroy River.
All of these life-giving waterways impact Keppel Sands, making it a popular fishing ground, and the vast shallow beaches are a haven for families with young children.
As you travel towards Keppel Sands, approximately five kilometres from town, you pass through a low wetlands forest of beautiful palms, eucalypt, bamboo, and tree ferns.
During heavy rains, these wetlands become swollen and in extreme weather events, their waters join with the surrounding Coorooman and Pumpkin Creeks, and the town essentially becomes an island.
During the floods of 1991, impassable flood waters cut off Keppel Sands and Joskeleigh from Rockhampton for fifteen days.
The challenges of this unique geography does create a sense of isolation, however it also gives the seaside village a very special feel. One really does have a sense of stepping back in time when you enter Keppel Sands.
The town has a local store, hotel with accommodation, a primary school, and caravan parks. There are several picnic areas plus showers and toilets at each end of the beach.
Keppel Sands Community
Keppel Sands and its near neighbour, Joskeleigh, share a closely interwoven history. Paul Joske, a local farmer, briefly grew sugar cane in the area but the crops failed. He later set aside land for the workers to live on.
This is part of a much larger story on the Queensland sugar slave trade which I’ve linked to rather than duplicating here. Suffice to say, as a result of the events of that era, both towns now have a robust and culturally rich South Sea Islander community.
Both towns are also part of a larger close-knit rural community that extends to the township of Cawarral, taking in Coowonga, Tungamull, and Mount Chalmers.
Due to Keppel Sands’ location, and despite being a coastal town, residents tend to identify more with Rockhampton as their nearest ‘big smoke’ rather than Yeppoon. The local high school children also go to Rockhampton.
Suggested related reading:
Accessing Keppel Sands
Keppel Sands Road is the only bitumen road into town and joins with Emu Park Road at Tungamull, approximately half way between Rockhampton and Emu Park. Diagonally opposite the turnoff is the road to Cawarral which joins with Rockhampton-Yeppoon Road. Further access from Yeppoon is via Tanby Road on the way to Emu Park.
In extreme wet weather, Keppel Sands Road is prone to flooding near the Joskeleigh turnoff, and during prolonged monsoonal weather, the road can be impassable to all traffic for several days.
Via Boat: Pumpkin Creek has a tidal boat ramp, while Coorooman Creek has an all-tide boat ramp and helipad for emergency services. The Coast Guard is located at South Head with access via Pumpkin Creek.
Vehicles are not allowed on the beach except at the Coorooman Creek boat ramp for launching and retrieving boats.
Photo Gallery: Pumpkin Creek to Coorooman Creek
If you enjoy this type of article, you can find more on the Central Queensland Places page. Feel free to leave any related comments at the end of this page.
Andrew loves history. And geography. And coding. And dogs. That’s pretty much it. And cycling. OK, now that’s pretty much it. Oops, forgot the grandkids. They’re pretty cool too.