Opened in early 2009, the new research facilities are state-of-the-art and include a wider range of sophisticated equipment than found in most off-shore research stations, including our recently added molecular facilities. See our Equipment page for a pictorial index of all available equipment.

The majority of the station facilities are available 24 hours per day. However, staff hours are 8 am to 4 pm, seven days per week. If you need staff assistance outside those hours, prior arrangements must be made and charges will apply.

If you are a UQ researcher and wish to install equipment on the station, you will need to seek approval. Read more about the Heron Island Research Station Equipment Installation process or speak with the Station Manager

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Research Block

HIRS research facilities are housed in the research block, dedicated for use by researchers and separate from our education facilities, yet with easy access to the shared seminar, library and computer rooms. All labs and decks are connected to our flow-through sea water system. Floor plan

Dry Laboratories

HIRS has 5 modern dry labs, each with bench space for approximately 15 researchers, a 520L fridge/freezer, freshwater/saltwater sinks and network access. The space is flexible and labs can be opened up as shown here to accommodate larger research groups.

Instrument Rooms

The two instrument rooms run the length of the building and are located immediately behind the labs on each floor providing direct lab access. These communal spaces contain a range of lab equipment and chemicals. See the pictorial Equipment list or contact Scientific Staff to find out more

Darkened Microscope Room

The darkened microscope room contains a fluorescence compound and stereo microscopes allowing for light controlled work. An external "In Use" illuminated sign is provided to prevent undesirable interruptions.

Wet Laboratories

The 2 wet labs each have wet/dry bench space for up to 10 researchers, a large aquarium table, a fridge/freezer and a freshwater-saltwater sink. These labs are great for those requiring indoor aquaria setups or those doing dissections. Wet Lab 1 can be completely darkened for light controlled experiments

Indoor Aquaria Room

Our indoor aquarium has manifolds and space for two large aquarium tables. The space is flexible and can be configured with additional bench space according to your needs.

Aquaria and Shark Decks


Our outdoor aquaria deck is equipped with numerous tables and aquaria of various sizes depending on your needs. A separate deck contains additional aquaria tables and a large (400cm x 400cm x 130 cm) holding tank for sharks and other larger species.

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Lab Store

The lab store is stocked with basic lab and field equipment and a range of consumable items. Please bring all your own consumable supplies but if you find you have an unexpected need, the store is there and accessible 24 hours per day for your convenience. There is a charge for consumable items. Contact Scientific Staff prior to your trip to ensure we have the non-consumable items you need.

Reference library

The library contains some excellent field guides and identification material as well as copies of some HIRS research publications. Computers with internet access are also available here, as well as a comfortable place to relax and read. This room is communal space shared by all station visitors.


The Great Barrier Reef Ocean Observing System (GBROOS) is a network of facilities providing observational data used by scientists to explore the long term effects of the Coral Sea on the Great Barrier Reef and the north-eastern Australian continental shelf. The GBROOS project is run by the Australian Institute of Marine Science on behalf of a consortium of universities and research agencies of which HIRS is an important part. The GBROOS sensor network on Heron Reef is one of several on the Great Barrier Reef and is an integral part of the nationwide Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), a broader collaborative program designed to observe the oceans around Australia.

The GBROOS data available includes basic oceanographic parameters, weather data, temperature and salinity profiles, chlorophyll samples and SST and ocean colour data provided by satellite remote sensing.