100km out to sea, nothing in sight. Clear, blue water lapping on the shore of pure white sandy beaches. Abundant wildlife including: turtles, sharks, stingrays, fishes and 1000s of birds. All located on a beautiful and isolated section of the Great Barrier Reef. David spent years here as a child, we were so happy we could return to this paradise!
After several close calls so far in our travels, we actually arrived 2.5hrs early in Gladstone! How awesome! Just to find out that the boat to Heron was cancelled…
We were told it would be for just one day and then the next day we were told it was cancelled again, so we ended up spending two days in Gladstone, which is about 1 day, 23hrs and 59min more than we wanted to. We made the best of it, enjoying the aircon and wifi of the hotel (that the resort paid, ofc) and spend hours reading in the hammock on the beach at Tannum Sands.
We arrived at Heron Island after a bit of a bumpy crossing (read: all the children vomited). As soon as we stepped onto the island, the familiar smells and sounds (bird shit and bird screeching) brought back a lot of good memories to David. The weather was wonderful, with glorious sun sun sun! After dropping stuff at our room
, we went for a reef walk, spotted a turtle and epaulette shark. Next activity was a tour of the island by David, pointing out trees he used the climb and specific bushes he used to hide in (the island is really really small). Some daring photography by David, wading 100m out with his camera, to get some of these shots of the island and Tamar.
Now for a walk along the slippery concrete blocks out to the wreck, for some nice photos.
Spotted quite a few friendly sharks (just reef sharks, not too big at 2m). A small rest then back to the beach for some serious hammocking and chilling, watching the sun go down with a wine and a good book.
Dinner and star gazing, we were fortunate enough to see a few of the green turtles coming up to lay and Tamar even got to see a tiny hatchling turtle making its way to freedom. A perfect way to end the fist day on this magical island.
After watching a beautiful sunrise
, it was time for more laying in the hammock! Have you ever seen such a lovely hammock spot before?
David enjoyed a good few hours here, getting lovey and sunburnt, enjoying the spectacular views. He was very proud of spotting this as a perfect hammocking location ;-). We spent the morning doing this, then relaxed at the room and our veranda for a couple hours, getting out of the sun. After lunch, we went to Shark Bay (some nice little reef sharks were about, friendly fellows).
Time for more relaxing and just before sunset we went for a turtle spotting walk and were immediately successful! A hatchling!
They are extremely cute! This one struggled down the beach, and finally made it to the water! Hurrah! And then was promptly eaten by a seagull. So it goes. After sundown, we had showers and went out for the seafood buffet at the restaurant. Whilst it was too expensive for what it was, we still enjoyed our evening and the food thoroughly 🙂
Everyday we woke up very early (read 5 am), the birds (specifically the Wedge Tailed shearwaters, which spend the day fishing and only come back at night) are very noisy, it does take some time to get used to. Click here to listen to the audio David recorded:
But, it is ok, this way we had nice long days and we managed to relax quite well. Take this even more amazing hammocking spot David found, for example.
He could see sharks, stingrays, turtles, fish and reef, all from the comfort of this hammock. Pretty great. After the hammock, he slacklined, whilst Tamar waited patiently. Same views from the slackline, it was awesome!
Then we went for a little snorkel together, seeing more sharks, a big painted crayfish and many beautiful fish in and around the coral. All in the glorious sun, under a bright blue sky. Tamar had a nice idea for a photo afterwards, David all too happy to oblige. Like it?
Lunchtime, relaxing on the beach and then it was dive time!
Exciting in general and particularly for David, as he had always wanted to dive when he lived on Heron, as a child. We saw nudibranchs, BIG turtles (1.5-2m long), a shark and a million brightly coloured fish. A perfect dive, we also had a little underwater kiss, a longstanding tradition of ours.
Some of the birds on the island
Time for an hour’s relaxation, before going on the Research Station tour. David really wanted to go on this, because the research station actually burnt down some years after he left, and as he spent so much time there as a kid (visiting the two other children living on the island, Pippi and Torkel), he wanted to see what the new station looked like. Quite different now, many new large buildings.
The tour at the research station was very interesting. The lady who gave the tour told a lot about interesting researches that had recently been done at Heron and she explained things very well and with passion. She also gave us the tip of not using washing products that contain microbeads anymore. As these plastic balls do not resolve, but end up in water everywhere around the world and then also in the stomachs of all the animals that drink the water.
As we were leaving the next day at 10 am, we decided to wake up before sunrise (4.45 am) and enjoy the day for as long as possible. On our way to the beach to watch the sunrise, we received a large suprise! In the park in between the cottages we saw a big turtle that got lost after laying eggs and did not find her way back to the beach.
These turtles are so big and heavy that you can’t just pick them up and then carry to the sea, apart from that they have sharp beaks… The turtle was very tired, but together with a turtle-o (research people that come to the island at hatching season) we guided the turtle back to the beach, were she totally exhausted waited for the tide to come in as she didn’t have enough power left to climb over the rocks.
In the mean time it was far after sunrise, so we went to the pier for a last snorkel at the reef. We saw many sharks, ray’s, turtles, a big coral cod and a million beautiful coloured fishes. After breakfast we had to pack up, pay our bill and head of to the ferry. We had a calm ride back to Gladstone again and not to many people were throwing up. Yay.
We had two long driving days ahead from Gladstone to North Dorrigo. We made a stop on the sunshine coast where Daniel (a mate of David) lives. He and his wife Katie moved from England to Australia one year ago and their son was born (Arthur) 7 weeks back. We had a nice evening at the garden and a yummy BBQ meal.
We slept very well that night and didn’t wake up from the all night crying of Arthur (as he had his vaccinations that day). The next morning we had a delicious brekky in the garden and some more good conversations, before we headed of for our second long driving day, back to Dorrigo.
Of course we had to spend the last 12 days in Australia in style and were would that be better than with David’s parents in North Dorrigo.
We spend our days with family meals, picnics, little adventures in national parks, doing jobs around the house that need to be done by a young bloke (chopping wood, cleaning gutters, digging a trench), bring up to date a lot of our administration and prepared the next part of our world trip (within the next 3 weeks Hawaii, Canada and Mexico scheduled).
It was very nice to spent our last days in Australia with family and we are really going to miss them.
But we are also looking forward to the second half of our trip. With new adventures in North, Central and South America. We are not finished with travelling yet. Let the games begin!