12th International Coral Reef Symposium

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Heron Island Research Station

Bookings are now closed

Booking Code Arrive Depart
Trip 14 July

18 July

Note: ICRS 2012 is Monday 9 July to Friday 13 July 2012 in Cairns

Trip Location

Heron Island is situated on the southern Great Barrier Reef, 80km (50 miles) offshore from the city of Gladstone. The crystal clear water and near pristine conditions make an ideal platform to conduct research and teaching activities.

Heron reef is home to around 60 percent of the 1500 species of fish and around 72% of the coral species found in the Great Barrier Reef. Heron Island Research Station (HIRS) is built on a lease of two hectares from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, can accommodate up to 160 guests and is operated by a permanent staff of ten. It is owned by The University of Queensland and has extremely well equipped laboratories, aquarium facilities and teaching areas.

Heron Island is a densely forested sand cay on the leeward edge of a flourishing coral reef platform. The island straddles the Tropic of Capricorn and is one of several that make up the Capricorn Bunker group. The Pisonia grandis forest and surrounding dunes provide nesting habitat for many thousands of migrant and resident birds. Heron Island is also a major green turtle nesting site. In July humpback whales pass the island in large numbers. At low tide, visitors can walk across the extensive reef flat areas and snorkel over them at high tide. Beautiful reefs surround the island.

Number of Participants


Cost to Participate in Australian Dollars


Full payment to be taken at time of booking.

Cost Inclusions

  • Catamaran transfers from Gladstone to Heron Island
  • 2 or 4 share accommodation in new research facility with ensuite bathroom
  • All meals, snacks and nonalcoholic drinks
  • Seafood banquet dinner one night, at resort
  • Use of snorkelling gear – wetsuits, masks, snorkels, fins
  • All snorkelling – two trips per day, mostly from boats, night snorkel
  • Presentations on local fauna, research and issues

Additional Costs

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Road transport is being organised to get from Cairns to Gladstone that should cost approximately $100 each depending on the final numbers. Please let Selina Ward know if you would like to know more about getting from Cairns to Gladstone.
  • SCUBA diving – hire of BC and reg $25 per day. Tanks $7.50 each

Diving Preparation

In order to SCUBA dive through HIRS, divers must have at least an advanced diver qualification, Australian Commercial dive medical or SPUMS equivalent, and have a first aid certificate.

Climate and Water Temperature

Heron Island enjoys a pleasant sub-tropical climate with balmy temperatures all year round. The July average maximum is 21°C (70°F). The evenings can be cold, so warm clothes are recommended.

Field Trip Organiser's Contact Details

Dr Selina Ward
Biological Sciences
The University of Queensland
Telephone: +61 7 3365 3307

Program Outline

Day 1
1000 Check in at the marina at Gladstone to catch the catamaran to Heron Island
1100 Depart Gladstone
1300 Arrive at Heron Island

Lunch, orientation, organise snorkel gear, reef walk / snorkel


Seafood buffet dinner at resort, drinks at resort bar

Day 2
Morning Boat trip for diving and snorkelling
Afternoon Boat trip for diving and snorkelling
Evening                Night snorkel (if conditions suit) / presentation
Days 3
Day Boat trips for diving and snorkelling, reef flat walk

Sunset drinks, dinner, film night               

Day 4
Morning Snorkelling and diving

Boat trip for snorkelling only to allow divers a 24 hour surface interval before flying

Evening Drinks at resort bar
Day 5
0800 Vacate accommodation

Depart Heron Island on catamaran

1545 Arrive Gladstone

A shuttle bus travels from the marina to the airport for flights to Brisbane and other destinations. Flights to Brisbane usually leave at 1630 and 1730.


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