Heron Island’s natural beauty

Minimal preparation is needed for tropical paradise holidays, however, you will appreciate a pre-departure session with a thesaurus on reaching Heron Island, for the different blues in the sea lapping this tiny coral cay will tax your vocabulary. 

Two hours by launch from Gladstone, Heron is a leafy dot on the southern Great Barrier Reef.  Only 1.7km around, the cay is a popular nesting site for wedge-tailed shearwaters (mutton birds) and influxes of noddy terns during the annual seabird migration can up the avian population to a staggering 100,000 birds.  Heron’s pisonia trees and pandanas provide year-round perches for eastern reef egrets (mistaking these for herons in 1843, Charles Bamfield Yule, lieutenant on HMS Bramble, misnamed the island).

Green and loggerhead turtles also nest on Heron, with hatchlings which survive the sea turtle lottery (one in a thousand reach adulthood) returning to lay in the white sand where they were born decades earlier.  In summer you can spend hours on the beach watching turtles dig nests and lay eggs and, later in the season, hatchlings dashing for the shallows, returning to your room in the early hours delighted with nature’s gifts.

Heron Island offers a range of accommodation from compact garden-setting rooms to voluminous beach-front suites; rates include all meals in Shearwater Restaurant – a smorgasbord of mussels, prawns, Moreton Bay bugs and crab claws one night, a la carte the next. 

Seabirds and nesting turtles aside, Heron’s main attractions are underwater.  A guided reef walk explains that algal colonisation gives the voluptuous lips of giant clams their purple, blue or green colouring. Snorkelling in the shallows around the rusty wreck of HMAS Protector and on the reef is spectacular fun, with stingrays and turtles swimming below and fish all around (about 900 species have been identified in these waters).  But Heron offers Discover Scuba Diving lessons and the full PADI Open Water Diving Course, too, with practical sessions in the swimming pool.

Heron Bommie, one of Jacques Cousteau’s top 10 favourite dive sites, is a cluster of coral heads where fish of every size, shape and colour hang out, many queuing for the attentions of cleaner wrasse.  Night-dive torch beams reveal sleeping turtles, the killer grin of a moray eel and shimmying yellow coral polyps feeding on plankton under every rock shelf.  Daytime dives leave you searching your vocabulary for blues. 

Virgin Australia and Qantas fly to Gladstone for connections to Heron Island via boat or helicopter.

Visit www.heronisland.com for all island information.


YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writershttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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