Article by Charlotte Elliott
While international travel is off the table I can recommend Heron Island as a wonderful Australian destination for any URG members. We went for a few nights in August and, now the borders are open, it's somewhere to think about booking this coming winter.
Heron Island is a coral cray in the southern end of the barrier reef, it’s a tiny island which you can circumnavigate on foot in 20 mins, following the white sand beach around. You stay at the resort and the only other inhabitants are those stationed at the research center. You can often meet them enjoying sunset from the jetty and find out about their research, which is fascinating.
Under the Jetty
Even in August we were so lucky with the weather, a few storms but enough sunshine that it felt like a tropical getaway. The dive boat runs three times a day for single dives which are all within 10 mins drive of the jetty. Make sure you book early. January to May you may be lucky enough to see Turtles hatching.
Snorkelling with a green turtle
Some of our highlights were snorkeling the boat channel early morning and sunset, where you regularly encounter rays, turtles and reef sharks; diving Jacques Cousteau's favourite dive site, where we saw Manta Rays; and reef walking to find Epaulette Sharks, who frequent the shallows.
Epaulette shark at sunrise
To get there you get a ferry from Gladstone, which has an airport if you're flying there or can be reached by roast tripping up the coast (stop off at Wolf Rock near Rainbow Beach if you have the time for another spectacular dive).