When we travel, we strive for balance in all aspects. During our extensive journey around Outback Queensland, we reached a point where we longed for a change of pace. Firstly, we needed to break free from our road trip routine. Secondly, we’ve experienced the wonders of Australia’s islands on multiple occasions (Kangaroo Island, Lord Howe Island, and Norfolk Island – to list a few). The stunning photos of Heron Island made it impossible to resist! It was part of our honeymoon, and we yearned for a romantic retreat at a resort.
But let us tell you, Heron Island is anything but cliché. If you’re seeking a place to marvel at the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, where turtles and mantas gracefully swim ashore and where mobile coverage is nonexistent – this is the place to be.
Heron Island – whereabouts?
Heron Island sits on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, five hundred kilometres north of Brisbane. To get there, hop on a ferry from Gladstone, and brace yourself for a two-hour ride (mind you, it can be rough at times). This island is conveniently located, providing easy access to the breathtaking underwater world of eastern Australia. And the cherry on top? Once you set foot on the island, you can start snorkelling straight from the beach.
Many claims that Heron Island is the crown jewel of the southern reef. Though slightly less tropical, it boasts unparalleled beauty without the crowds of tourists.
Embarking on the Heron Island adventure
From Gladstone, we embarked on a voyage across the ocean. We went past the petite Mast Head Island and Erskine Island before reaching the slightly larger Heron Island. A shipwreck marks the entrance to the narrow channel, though it wasn’t sunk there. It was brought in from the Gladstone area in 1943 because the island’s former owner, Captain Christian Poulsen, had a grand vision of using it as a breakwater.
Turtles and a glimpse of history
In the 1930s, Poulsen built a hotel on the island, envisioning Heron as a splendid holiday destination. And you know what was there earlier? The turtle soup factory. Then, one of the tourist attractions was – riding turtles. Yep, you read that right. Riding turtles was one of the favourite tourist activities in various parts of Australia!
Thankfully, Heron Island was declared a national park in 1943. A few years later, a university research station got established alongside the hotel, which continues to thrive today.
What About the Turtles? Every year, a bale of turtles flocks to the island to lay their eggs. The turtle-watching season runs from November to March.
Nature’s bounty on Heron Island
The island is a haven for avian enthusiasts, as various bird species have found a home here and return regularly to raise their young. The melodic symphony of their high-pitched chatter greets you in the morning, filling you with joy rather than annoyance. You’ll encounter black noddies, brown terns, and wedge-tailed shearwaters among the feathered inhabitants.
In addition, the turtles, manta rays grace the island with their presence. Underwater life is an absolute delight, whether you scuba dive or snorkel.
A stroll around Heron Island can be completed in an hour, leaving ample time to unwind and take it easy. During our walk, however, the wind seemed to conspire against us, blowing straight into our eyes, and the tiny grains of sand mercilessly pricked our calves like razor-sharp blades. Ouch!
Heron Island Resort
Although the name may evoke images of luxury, Heron Island Resort has a touch of outdated charm. It may show its age, but it still offers a comfortable stay (at least in our opinion). The resort package, which must be purchased in some form, includes accommodation, breakfast, and dinner. We packed many snacks and wine before we left the mainland – it is a must!
We relished the romantic sunsets, indulged in solitary walks during low tide, let ourselves drift while admiring the underwater wonders, and gazed at shooting stars illuminating the night sky. Despite its small size, so much can be experienced and cherished on Heron Island.
For more information about Heron Island, including how to get there, accommodation options, and pricing details, visit https://www.heronisland.com.