It looks like trouble is brewing in ‘paradise’ as Aussie residents claim they are no longer allowed from even setting foot on the beautiful Keswick Island acquired by a Chinese company. China Bloom acquired a 99-year lease to a portion of the Island in 2019.
According to reports, the company has now banned boats from accessing the public ramp, denied them access to the air strip and has tried to stop them using the beach – with residents claiming it is being reserved only for wealthy Chinese tourists.
“I just don’t think they want Australians on the island,” former island resident Julie Willis told the news program “A Current Affair.” “I think that they want to have this island solely for the use of the Chinese tourism market.”
Traveling to Keswick Island was only a short flight from Mackay prior to the acquisition, but the new owners have now closed the airstrip to residents who must now travel by boat, and they are even banned from docking at the public barge ramp on arrival.
The welcome signs are up but other signs warning people to “keep out” are all over the island, causing great concerns for residents.
The new signs even extend to the waters of Basil Bay – claiming the pristine beach is closed for public.
China Bloom was reportedly ordered to remove ‘Keep Out’ signs from the water of Basil Bay earlier in the year.
Ms Willis and her partner Robert Lee rented on Keswick Island for 6 years and lived there without a problem but were shocked when they received a 3-day notice in February this year to vacate.
Ms Willis believes Australians deserve to own a home in their land and should have no restricted access to public land.
“We want to make a home here, we want to buy our piece of Australia, and China is making it very hard”, she said.
Locals also claim the Chinese company is destroying tourism in the area. Even the national park, the island’s greatest public asset, has been closed for public.
“There have been no tourists since September last year”, said Aussie resident, Rayna Asbury, who has owned a home on the island for 15 years.
Ms Asbury added that it ‘feels like Keswick Island has become the property of the Chinese Communist Party’.
Rayna Asbury’s husband James said residents’ concerns had been ignored.
“You wonder, what is the endgame here?” Mr Asbury said.
“Why would a foreign entity owning a place like this in our Queensland be stopping visitors … and our government, our people we are voting for are not doing anything about it.”
“It’s a beautiful island that should be cherished as such.”
Other Queensland islands controlled by Chinese companies include St Bees, Lindeman, South Molle and Daydream Island, according to reports