After discovering the Whitsundays were not the destination for diving, due to the recent cyclone, we looked for other spots en route that might quench our thirst for wildlife in Davy Jones’ locker. Many a blog was read and many a pamphlet rifled through when we came across Heron Island, which seemed the perfect place. We stopped off in Gladstone for a night (making ourselves a lovely campsite pasta dinner) and promptly made our way to the town’s information centre in the morning.
We had, however, got the details a little wrong… they didn’t do day trips to Heron Island. However, with half an hour of debate between Hannah and myself (and the wonderful staff at the information centre) we were offered two nights on Heron Island at a locals’ rate – an offer we couldn’t refuse!
The boat to the island was a 3 hour trip, with a wonderful sunset to end our journey. The island itself is isolated, truly a tropical island, way out in the south Great Barrier Reef. When you think of luxury resort island, this is it.
We were welcomed to the resort, told not to pinch any wildlife, and escorted to our rooms. We had not expected such a nice place for the price we paid… it was a steal. And we made the most of it! A nice shower, shave, and coffee out on the veranda. (We won’t mention the only restaurant on the island… the buffet was not to Hannah’s liking, and a wee bit over priced. We made our money back at breakfast, mind…)
Full day number one! A snorkel trip to the reef for me and a dive for Hannah! I saw a white tipped reef shark, sting rays (enormous 20ft sting rays), a turtle, and a multitude of brightly coloured fish. Hannah’s dive instructor even tickled a stingray so they could get a good picture!
Before all of this fun, we had decided to properly check out the island. It took us 30 minutes to walk all the way around it on the brilliant white sandy beaches and say hello to some of the resident crabs. The island also boasted a research station, which we wish we knew more about, but made us both consider marine biology as a career path.
The evening was fantastic. We were advised by a member of the dive staff that a walk along the jetty a night would be a good idea, “…and take a torch”. Well, on our way to the jetty we had to stop in our tracks… just imagine a night sky from a island far away and undisturbed by the lights of any town or city. We lay down on the helipad for about half an hour admiring the beauty of the night’s sky. I, for one, had never seen anything like it; not even close.And then the jetty! As we walked along it and peered into the water we saw nothing, until I shone the torch upon the water: turtles! Two large, one small. Beautiful.
Day two,only a morning on the island really, but arguably our best day there. We had decided an early morning snorkel to the wreck would be a good idea. The harbour strip was clear of boat traffic until 8am, and this is where some of the larger local inhabitants went to play. It was incredible, the cream of the crop in marine wildlife, including sharks, manta rays, sting rays, green turtles, loggerhead turtles, and tons of massive, colourful and shiny fish. We got out the water after an hour of swimming and jumped up and down on the beach with pure ecstatic joy. Hope you enjoy the pictures!