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After years of rumour, innuendo, speculation and fantasy, it looks like Russell Island may soon boast a specialist boutique eco resort.

The proposed resort, once approved by Redland City Council, will be built on a prime 14 hectare peninsula on Russell Island located off Tenanne Street..

The man behind the Eco Resort Russell Island project is former Ipswich product and now Gold Coast businessman, James Bowers.

He says he is hopeful that with council approval, the boutique eco resort could be up and running within two years.

James explained to the Friendly Bay Islander that he had purchased the site with a view to using it as a retreat for his family to visit, relax and enjoy the waters of Moreton Bay.

It was not long before he discovered the property had an original DA for a massive 84 unit project.

“I soon realised that this concept was in no way conducive or compatible to the islands and the lifestyle so, decided to progress the project by reducing it considerably,” he said.

The previous development application has been completely scaled back.

It now conforms to local and state environmental overlays, fitting the buildings within previously cleared areas with minimal environmental intrusion.

The proposed modification has scaled down the development to 11 x 2 bedroom cabins, and a swimming pool, retaining the existing manager’s residence.

The size of what will be the Bush Tucker Restaurant has also been reduced and there will be no kiosk and no buildings over one storey.

A Bush Bar/Café has been included to service guests at the resort pool, and is available to visitors utilising the publicly accessible walkway, to grab a coffee or sandwich.

The Bush Tucker a la carte restaurant, which will be open seven days and will cater for guests and locals alike, will be the heart of the Eco resort.

James Bowers said he wants this to be a unique restaurant catering for breakfast, lunch and dinner, featuring a La Carte meals based on Australian bush tucker and local seafood and produce.

Locals will be able to utilise the restaurant and experience the truly Australian themed foods, but it will be on a booking basis as guests will be given priority.

As the theme of the Eco Resort is a quiet retreat, alcohol will only be served with a meal.

James Bowers has a landscaping and nursery background and he says that almost all new plantings on the 14 hectare site will be a wide range of bush-tucker-producing Australian edible plants.

He says guests and visitors will be able to partake in a ‘truly culinary natural experience’ as they walk along tracks meandering between the thousands of bush tucker shrubs and trees that are safe to eat.

He says the Eco Resort Russell Island will be built in three stages.

Stage 1 will be building of the restaurant and two villas along with the necessary earthworks and services as well as propagation and planting of the thousands of Australian bush tucker trees and shrubs that will complete the theme.

Stages two and three are planned to be built within six and 12 months of stage one construction, allowing time for the plantings to stabilise.

This will involve the remaining nine single-storey villas and remaining infrastructure.

James Bowers says he wants to be completely ‘open’ with the island community in relation to information about the project.

“We will be reaching out to the islanders and neighbours, and we intend to have an ‘open’ day or weekend here in very near future for visitors to come and see what we have planned.”

He believes the Eco Resort Russell Island has a great passive, relaxing future befitting the ’true feel’ of the islands.

“We have done our due diligence and are hopeful of the project getting approval from all levels of Government, as well as the local community.”

In her column in this edition of the FBI, Mayor Karen Williams said: "Potential investors are already taking note, with the proposal for an island eco-resort and a real prospect of an aged care facilities for the SMBI. "Investment will bring with it new businesses, potential new industries and the incentive for already established businesses to expand their operations to cater for the rapidly-growing population. This means new jobs, many of which will be filled by island locals, and new hope for the islands’ future.” Division 5 Councillor Mark Edwards told The Friendly Bay Islander that council officers would assess all aspects of the development as submitted.

“This is a much less intrusive development than was originally intended by the former owners.

“If it passes all levels of scrutiny by officers, this project could become a major employer on our islands; something which would be of benefit to all,” Cr Edwards said.

• An architect’s layout of the proposed Eco Resort Russell Island