The resort covers one third of the island, the rest is natural vegetation and a research station of the University of Queensland, which is off-limits to travellers.
Heron Island was the site of a turtle cannery in the 1920s, but it was not a great commercial success so it was closed down. The island was first opened as a resort in the early '30s.
Flora and fauna
Heron Island is a coral cay with deep blue waters and lush vegetation, breeding ground to some 70 000 - 120 000 birds, Heron Island is an attractive destination for travellers interested in exploring nature above and under water.
From November to March, female green and loggerhead sea turtles nest on the beach. Their hatchlings can be seen scurrying down to the water from January to April.
Heron Island enjoys a warm, tropical climate. Temperatures for April: Air: 21 (min) - 27 degrees C (max); Water 25 - 27 degrees C
Take the resort catamarran, leaves around 10:30 AM from Gladstone. Cost is extremely high - $200 roundtrip, price may vary for resort guest, visitors, and UQ students and researchers. Alternatively you can go by helicopter (operated by Australian Helicopters); this provides an excellent view of the reefs and islands and is fantastic if you can afford it, but it is even more expensive than the launch - $180 standby one way or $330 confirmed one way.
The only way to get around Heron Island is on foot! But don't worry, the island is only about 800m end to end.
Above water nature's main attractions are the abundance of bird life and the nesting turtles who flood the island in thousands from November to January. The bird breeding season between October and April can be especially noisy and smelly.
Diving is superb and close by including the famous Heron Bommie which has been featured in many underwater documentaries. Mantas, rays, reef sharks and turtles are seen on almost every dive. The corals are colourful and relatively unspoiled.
The Boutique has clothes and other souvenirs for sale.
Shearwater Restaurant is the place to eat on the island. It is open from 7.30am - 9.30am for breakfast, 12.30pm - 2.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm - 9.30pm for dinner. Breakfast and lunch are buffet and dinner alternates between table d'hote and buffet.
The Bailles bar offers a range of drinks all day.
The only accommodation available on the island is operated by:
Stays can be considerably cheaper if travellers watch for package deals offered periodically by Voyages or by Qantas.
There are no campgrounds on the island.
Backcountry camping is not permitted on the island.
Being 73km from the mainland, Heron Island is very safe. Safety deposit boxes are available at reception if you have anything extremely valuable.
The resort offers dive and snorkeling trips to the edge of the reef, as well as a semi-submersible vessel and fishing trips. You can also charter a boat for the day.