Today is the start of the second half of my great mid-semester adventure!
I have to say, it was a really long drive. A really really long drive. I know it was only the same length as home-Cornwall, but it felt so much longer. Possibly because on the map it only seems like a teeny tiny distance, or because the bus wasn’t that comfy but either way it was a very long night. We arrived in Gladstone at about 8am, and then had to wait until 11 for the ferry, except the bus had to leave so we were all turfed out on to the harbour side with our luggage to kip for a while. Anyone who knows me knows how useless I am with napping and/or doing nothing for long periods of time, so Steph and I wandered the shops and then I sat and started re-reading Game of Thrones as I couldn’t remember enough of what happened to start the most recent book!
After a 3hr wait in the sun we were finally allowed onboard and it was of to the island! The ferry ride was pretty long, it was just over two hours and most people I knew fell asleep so I took myself outside to have a look at the water going past. Good thing I did because I ever so briefly saw a turtle and then the coral cay islands started coming into view with their crystal blue waters over the reef platforms and the idyllic white sand beaches. It truly looked like a tropical paradise, and when we started pulling into Heron Island, that’s exactly what I saw. There was clear blue water with a few reef sharks swimming below the boat, a ruined old shipwreck marking the entry passage to the island and a wooden jetty coming out to meet us extending from the perfect white sand and lush tropical trees that came down towards the sand!
It was absolutely gorgeous and stepping off the boat and onto the cay for the first time, seeing the reef laid out before me and already able to see the shadows of sharks and reef fish, I’m not going to lie, I got a little bit emotional and choked up. As a wannabe marine biologist and a lover of reefs it has been a lifelong dream of mine to go to the Great Barrier Reed and I was finally there!
After a quick briefing we sorted out rooms, a dorm of 8 and I only knew a few of them to start but we quickly all got to know each other and became good friends on the island!
The first thing to do was to jump straight in the water, so armed with fins, a snorkel and a mask we jumped in and went for a swim around the jetty and it did not disappoint. Within 20 minutes I’d seen my first (in the water) turtle! And it was huge! There were also plenty of reef fish to be seen and coral, I’d never seen coral! That first snorkel was also pretty special as I saw two huge eagle rays as well as white tip reef sharks up pretty close! I saw along side one along the reef for a good little while which was amazing!
The wreck was also great to see and we managed to time it so it was sunset, which looked incredible. Sunset in the water on the Great Barrier Reef. It doesn’t get much better.