After weathering a rainy summer in Sydney, that muddied our regular, local swimming haunts, the "swim set girls" were going stir crazy. We just needed a dose of clear blue water and sunshine.
It's Monday morning and the "swim chat" what's app group is going off.
Have you ever been to Heron Island?
Yes, it's amazing !
Well, I've booked Ocean Swim Safaris and there are 4 spots left !
Five girls have booked and the chat has moved on....
What to take? How far will we swim? Is the water going to be warm? Did someone say its cyclone season??? Of, course we will need our stylish wetsuit collection.
Before we knew it, we were overnighting in Gladstone, searching for morning caffeine and waiting for the ferry to board.
A warm welcome at the dock followed with a "did you take a seasickness tablet" question as the hot topic of conversation. A quick panic buy at the local fishing co-op and we were ready to board. And thank god we'd taken them. A 2.5 hour ferry ride began smoothly but it didn't take long before there were paper bags being offered to all. For someone who doesn't usually get sick, being surrounded by green faced passengers turned me into a person who was focussing on the horizon to keep fresh faced.
With 20 minutes to go the ferry started to steady as the water turned from blue to aqua.
The next thing we heard were the oohs and ahhhs of like-minded water lovers.
OMG the water!
The aqua colour was the most postcard picture perfect that we could have imagined.
As we moved past the shipwreck before mooring at the dock, all you could see were reef sharks resting on the ocean floor. Hundreds of them, about 3- 5 foot long. Our first thought was...wow they are big and secondly, jeez I hope they are friendly. We were reassured quickly by the knowledgeable locals that they were the friendly variety.
Now I don’t want to dwell on the resort itself but we had signed up rather quickly and didn’t really read the fine print.
Yes, we expected 3 star accommodation but we didn’t expect Fawlty Towers meets "school camp" in the service and food department. The details are boring but I will share 2 anecdotes that should give you a glimpse of what we laughingly experienced.
On our first morning, after the most gorgeous swim around the wreck with turtles and reef sharks, we were all pretty keen for a coffee.
As a swimmer, the coffee is a pretty important part of our post swim ritual. So we all headed towards the espresso machine to be told that no-one on the island could operate it? The substitute we were offered was sachet coffee, powdered not even granules - who knew they still made this stuff ?
That was just the beginning! Dinners - the week began with us being offered a menu that sounded delicious. A choice of entree and mains with an emphasis on local seafood. Fabulous. But by 7pm on the first night the message was relayed that instead we would be dining on Indian curry buffet, the speciality being that each curry tasted and looked the same despite the advertised variety. Oh and best of all was the sign near the plates, please be patient we have run out of plates. As the week progressed they managed to run out of English Breakfast tea and clean mugs to put it in but the final straw came when they advised that they had run out of GIN.
As a "glass half-full" kind of group we turned our attention to the reason we had set out on this adventure and the island didn't disappoint. Aqua clear water for days with the Queensland sunshine keeping us warm and happy.
The ocean is five star as is the nature that embodies and surrounds it. From the nature walks, where we saw turtles nest and their babies hatch, to swimming with these amazing sea creatures along with an incredible array of tropical fish and flying rays. It was more spectacular than we could have expected or hoped for. The snorkelling was amazing, the variety of fish incredible. We were happy to have our Sleeveless Bonnie wetsuits, as the wind was cool so we were super warm and it kept us sun protected. The native night life was captivating. Every evening at dusk we went searching for hatching turtles. Watching these little creatures come out of their holes was such an experience. We were lucky enough to find a mother who was late to the party (nesting season is November to March), she began nesting around midnight ant early the next morning she had finished as was making her way back to the ocean.
An eco adventure that needs to be on everyone's list- The Great Barrier Reef