After our sailing adventure we did another long drive and an overnight in Gladstone before we boarded the 2 hour ferry to Heron Island. This remote island is a bird and turtle haven, at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. Part of the island is a resort and the other half is a National Park containing a Queensland University research station. We weren’t sure what to expect but we were urged by dear friends, the Arboricos, to go to Heron Island as they had had a magical experience there during turtle hatching season.
October is not turtle hatching season but nesting season for the turtles as well as the many black noddy tern birds. These birds were everywhere! They flew around frantically picking up leaves to make their nests with little care for humans. We would have to dodge them as they flew into us. The smell of their guano was a bit overpowering however we were informed without all the bird guano the beautiful island would not exist.
During our island orientation we were also informed that there were Wedge Tailed Shearwater birds (Mutton Birds) that come back to the island at night and shriek bloody murder until 4 am. It was true, they could make the sound of a screaming baby while the other birds made spooky howling like sounds. It was a perfect place to spend Halloween but a little difficult to get sleep.
The island was truly magical with sting rays and sharks visible from the beach. The large green turtles did come ashore at high tide at night to lay their eggs. You could see where they have been from the track they left. I thought it was a tractor tire track at first. I was able to get up at 5:30 one morning to see a turtle make it’s way back into the ocean after laboring all night to make it on shore to dig a hole in the sand to lay her eggs. What hard work it is! Being on land seems arduous for turtles, especially compared to how graceful they can be in the ocean. Nature is amazing and a bit perplexing.
Naomi turned 19 on Heron Island amongst her foes - birds and fish. We did a day of diving as this was one of Jacque Costeau’s top 10 diving spots in the world. Naomi and Keegan were able to scuba dive in just their swimsuits (without wetsuits) much to the shock of the dive masters and myself. My scuba dive name is “Bluey” since I am always cold and even with my 7mm wetsuit I managed to surface with blue lips.
Heron island is definitely ruled by nature and the creatures on and around it. It was a wonderful way to wrap up our trip with Jennifer and Geoff.