Today we’re visiting Heron Island, a coral cay located in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, near the Tropic of Capricorn.

This is the third post in our series revisiting some of my very first, very amateur travel videos called Lukey G’s Travel Adventures

Where is Heron Island?

Heron Island is located around 70km off the coast of Gladstone on Queensland’s Capricorn Coast. Many of the islands you can visit around the Great Barrier Reef are generally located on the inner reef, closer to the Queensland Coast. They will typically have some coral, and plenty of tropical fish. But to really explore the Great Barrier Reef, you want to visit the outer reef. That’s what makes Heron Island so attractive. It has a resort, situated on a coral cay in the outer reef. 

Water Activities

This makes it the perfect location for scuba divers and snorkellers alike.

Shipwreck on Heron Island
Shipwreck on Heron Island

I didn’t go scuba diving, but we did go snorkelling. We saw some incredible tropical fish including an angel fish swimming around an old shipwreck. We also swam with turtles who use Heron Island for nesting. It was a truly incredible experience that I hope to enjoy again someday.

One of Heron Island's resident turtles
One of Heron Island’s resident turtles

Even if you aren’t into diving, you can take a reef walk on certain days when the tide is low. You’ll need to wear fully enclosed footwear as you can get an infection from the coral. This informative walk will give you information on the corals and fish that you’ll find out on the reef.

Walking The Island

If you prefer to stay on dry land, you can walk around the island. It takes about 30-45 minutes to walk around Heron Island, which is about 800 meters long and 300 meters wide. As well as beautiful views of the blue waters, you will see a variety of birdlife around the island. You may even see some of the sea life from the shore. We saw plenty of rays close to shore. Loggerhead and Green Turtles nest on the island from November to March and hatchlings usually begin to emerge in January. Although I was visiting outside of these times, I still saw evidence of the turtles nests.

A Heron Island Sunset
A Heron Island Sunset

I enjoyed walking to the Eastern edge of the island to watch the sunrise over the Pacific one morning. In the evenings, I would walk down to the beach and admire the incredible view of the stars while listening to the waves lapping from the vast Ocean before me.

Standing at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, on this small blue dot amidst the vast Milky Way Galaxy was a profoundly humbling experience.

Heron Island Resort 

The Island includes a resort and a university research station. The resort, operated by The Aldesta Group includes a number of rooms starting at around $300 per night. The resort includes a number of bars and restaurants and can accommodated up to 300 guests and 100 staff. 

University of Queensland Research Station

When I visited Heron Island I actually stayed at the University of Queensland Heron Island Research Station. This state of the art facility is designed for University students to come out and do marine research here. I was visiting as part of a conservation educational team. The staff at the research station were very knowledgeable and friendly. They helped us gain a great understanding of the island and the reef. They have some tanks at the research station which include some of the sea life to allow you to get an up-close look.

Getting there

There are several options for getting to Heron Island, which all depart from Gladstone. Gladstone has an airport which is fairly accessible from Sydney and Brisbane.

I travelled to Heron Island onboard the ferry, The Heron Islander, which took over two hours, but was a fun ride. Keep your eyes on the horizon as you may be lucky enough to see a whale. The ferry ride currently costs about $75 per person one way.

The Heron Island Ferry
The Heron Island Ferry

On our return journey there was a malfunction with the boat that caused it to turn to its side – it almost felt like it was going to capsize. Myself and another passenger had to go to the hospital to get checked out but we were all ok, and the ferry operator was very helpful.

If you have some extra cash to splash around and want to get to the island faster you can also fly via sea plane or helicopter. Flying will start from $350 per person.

Regardless of how you choose to get there, it’s worth the trip to be inspired by the beautiful creation around the island. 

What do you love doing when you visit Heron Island?