MUCH TO SEE: THE HMCS Protector was floated to Heron Island in 1945 to act as a breakwater against strong tides for small craft water vessels.
MUCH TO SEE: THE HMCS Protector was floated to Heron Island in 1945 to act as a breakwater against strong tides for small craft water vessels. Ebony Battersby

Turtles a natural drawcard at Heron Island

EVERY year between October and March, Heron Island has welcomed turtles who choose our little piece of paradise to lay their eggs.

Humans, having utilised the island for tourism purposes since 1932, have been able to witness this spectacle of nature on Heron Island longer than anywhere else on the Great Barrier Reef.

The research station located on the 12-hectare piece of paradise has been operating for half a century, monitoring the visiting turtles.

The data collected forms the most comprehensive research available on green turtles in the world.

Jason Killen is a skilled watchman, never allowing a bird to fly by without properly identifying it and explaining its crucial place in the small and contained island ecosystem.

"I love this place. Even after seven years of working here I still learn new things from the island," he said.

"I wouldn't want Heron Island to turn into an activities island. I don't think jetskis and that sort of thing belong here.

"Coming to Heron Island is really about taking in the environment."

At the closing of the yearly turtle nesting season, Mr Killen says the circle of life is a daily theme on the island.

"We have a strictly no-interference policy," he said.

"In respecting nature we have to make sure the ecosystem remains stable and intact."

The beauty of Heron Island is only made all the more so when waiting for the ferry to depart in Gladstone, one of the country's premier industrial hubs.

Tour guide, activities manager and longest serving staff member on the island, Mr Killen said he loves taking the two-and- a-half-hour weekly commute.

"It's such a stark contrast leaving behind Gladstone Harbour and arriving at Heron," he said.

"It really is incredible that so many Gladstone locals have never visited.

"Heron Island is a really special place and it's right here at our feet."



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