Plan Your Visit section

Getting To Heron Island

Getting to Heron Island

Transport to HIRS is by catamaran operated by Heron Island Resort, helicopter or seaplane. Regardless of which way you travel, we strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance in case of adverse weather conditions or other delays.


As of 13 May 2019, the Heron Islander catamaran departs Gladstone Marina (Bryan Jordan Drive, Gladstone, Qld, 4680) five days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) at approximately 9:30am, arriving at Heron Island around 11:45am. Return transfers depart Heron Island at approximately 12:45pm for a 3:00pm arrival in Gladstone. Station staff take care of your booking onto the catamaran upon receipt of your Station Booking Application Form. Clients need to arrive at the check-in desk in Gladstone between 7:45am - 9:00am, ready to check in luggage, receive further instructions from the catamaran staff and obtain the required boarding pass. Please be aware HIRS groups will board the boat last and are asked to sit downstairs. Shirts and shoes are required.

Heron Island Resort operate transfers from the Gladstone Airport to the Marina departing at 8:00am to arrive at the marina at 8:15am. Please select this option on your Station Booking Application if you wish to use this service and Station staff will arrange the transfer. Flight or catamaran delays may negatively impact your connections so we recommend you allow extra time and purchase travel insurance.

Please note: 

  • Departure and therefore arrival times vary daily due to sea conditions and other factors so times are approximate.
  • Luggage: capacity on the catamaran is limited and HIRS clients are limited to 2 bags of personal effects. Anything extra is classified as excess luggage (it is advisable that any clients with excess luggage inform HIRS via email so we can advise the Marina) and will be charged as follows (prices subject to change):

0-5kg: $18.00
5-15kg: $27.00
15+kg: $38.00

  • Extra luggage and all equipment can be transferred to Heron Island by the barge service (see Food and Freight).

Upon arrival at Heron Island, HIRS Staff will meet you at the jetty and show you to the Station where they will run through some important information.


Australia By Seaplane operates seaplane flights between Gladstone Airport and Heron Island. Seaplane transfers are subject to availability and tides so please confirm availability on all services with the Delaware North reservations team or direct with the operator to avoid disappointment. Please note that the Cessna Seaplane requires a minimum purchase of 2 seats to operate and the DeHavilland Seaplane requires a minimum purchase of 4 seats to operate.

  • Check-in for seaplane transfers at least 30 minutes prior to departure at the Gladstone Airport.
  • Total baggage allowance is dependent on passenger weights and additional luggage can be transferred on the catamaran.
  • Contact Australia By Seaplane on 0419 669 575 or 0412 623 554.

Upon arrival at Heron Island, HIRS Staff will meet you at the seaplane and show you to the Station where they will run through some important information.


Marine Helicopter Charter operates helicopter flights between Gladstone Airport and Heron Island. Helicopter transfers are subject to availability so please confirm availability on all services direct with the operator to avoid disappointment. Please note that helicopter transfers may require a minimum purchase of seats to operate.

  • Check-in for helicopter transfers at least 30 minutes prior to departure at the Gladstone Airport.
  • Total baggage allowance is dependent on passenger weights and additional luggage can be transferred on the catamaran.
  • Contact Marine Helicopter Charter on +61 7 4978 0129 or

Upon arrival at Heron Island, HIRS Staff will meet you at the helipad and show you to the Station where they will run through some important information.

What to Bring

What to Bring

  • Towel
  • Soap and all other required toiletries
  • The Australian sun is potent. Please bring a good supply of sun screen, a hat and sun-protective clothing
  • Closed shoes. The University of Queensland requires closed shoes to be worn at all times in all laboratories
  • Shoes for reef walking
  • Water bottle. It can be hot working on Heron so it's handy to have a drink bottle to carry with you
  • Some warm clothes. The weather on Heron can be variable, prepare for all eventualities
  • Rain coat
  • Copies of permits, risk assessments and MSDS's (if applicable)
  • Copies of all necessary paperwork
  • HIRS kitchens are only stocked with basic equipment. Should you have special requirements you may need to bring if with you
  • Any special requirements such as an ample supply of prescription medication
  • Torch (flashlight). Lighting around the station is limited so you should always use a torch when moving around at night
  • Camera - for all those spectacular sunsets!
  • All of you scientific requirements. Unless you have confirmed with HIRS Scientific Staff that the station can provide certain items, you need to ensure you bring everything else you may need. Keep in mind that getting extra items to the island can take time
  • Sense of humour. Heron Island is a remote location and things don't always go to plan. HIRS Staff will always endeavour to make your stay go as smoothly as possible so be sure to ask for assistance.
Food and Freight

Food and Freight

Food and freight are brought to Heron on a barge. If you are self-catering, you will need to organise your own food delivery (see below in Self-catering Food Shipment). The barge generally arrives on a Thursday but public holidays and unforeseen circumstances occasionally alter the schedule. Please confirm barge dates prior to organising food or freight. Goods must arrive at the barge yard (11 Rooksby St, Gladstone, Qld, 4680) by 10:00am Tuesday, in order to be loaded onto the barge for delivery on Thursday. Please plan your deliveries carefully. If not delivered to the barge yard on time it may not make it to the Island for another week. Ensure all goods are clearly labelled with the following:

Your Details Delivered To Delivery Address
Your name
and delivered to: 11 Rooksby St
Gladstone, QLD 4680

Freight charges apply for both the barge and for excess luggage and equipment on the passenger Catamaran service. Please see the bookings and tariffs page for costs. It is recommended you send equipment on the barge and not the passenger Catamaran due to space restrictions. No guarantee can be made that freight will come across on the Catamaran. No chemicals are to be transported on the passenger Catamaran.

If the need does arise and you need to bring extra equipment on the Catamaran, it is advisable to contact HIRS via email beforehand so we can advise the Marina to expect excess luggage. 


A commercial caterer is available to handle your catering needs while at HIRS. Please make arrangements directly with the caterer. Groups wishing to self-cater may continue to do so upon approval by the University.

Good Food Solutions – John Guy – – +61 439 427 766

Sample Menu (inclusive of kitchen charge) – please note, John does not have mobile coverage while on the Station, so email is the preferred method of contact. Examples of some of John's popular dishes below.

  • An image of pineapple and coconut salad
    Pineapple & Coconut Salad BBQ
  • An image of Lemon Barramundi
    Barramundi with Lemon Potato
  • An image of Blueberry Muffins
    Fresh-baked Blueberry Muffins

Prices vary depending on group needs. Please note, minimum group numbers apply; discuss your needs with John when booking. Example costs are:

  • Schools groups - $50.00 + GST per head per day, includes kitchen fee.
  • Undergraduate groups - $55.00 + GST per head per day, includes kitchen fee.
  • Conference/Workshop groups from $75.00 + GST per head per day, includes kitchen fee (via negotiation).

Please note, minimum group numbers apply. Small Research groups and others by negotiation.

Self-catering Food Shipment

If you are self-catering you will need to organise your own food delivery. Groceries can be ordered either online or by email as indicated from the stores listed below. It pays to be specific with your order to ensure you get what you want. Food orders should be sent in by the Friday preceding the week you wish your food delivered. The supermarkets charge a make-up and packing fee which they include in their bill with your food order. Be aware that there will also be a HIRS freight charge.

IGA Supermarket
Phone: 07 4979 5700
Email orders only: (attention: Madonna or Joy)
Use this form

Woolworths Supermarket
Phone: 07 4978 1066 
Online ordering*.

Woolworths notes
*When ordering through Woolworths, please make sure you place Heron Island Research Station somewhere in the order - in the Delivery Instructions Section is a good place. It is also useful if you can incorporate your name and HIRS in the delivery address, e.g. John Smith, Heron Island Research Station, 11 Rooksby St, Gladstone. If Heron Island Research Station is not marked on the order, the food can be misplaced or delayed.

Coles Supermarket
Phone: 07 4978 4377 
Online ordering*

Coles notes
*Please enter the exact address as: Care PO, HERON RESEARCH QLD 4680. You will then be able to select a delivery time-slot of Tuesday morning, this time-slot will appear as 7:00am - 2:00pm and all other days and time slots will appear as “sold out”. All orders placed for this address and time-slot will be sent out to the barge on the Tuesday morning and shipped over to the Island. Please complete and checkout your order before the cut-off, which is 12:00pm (midday) on Monday. Please also include some delivery instructions to be marked on your boxes, e.g. Heron Island Research Station, One Tree Island Research. Coles charge a $20.00 delivery fee for orders going to Heron Island.

Food Safety

Catering for large groups of people can pose many challenges. For groups not engaging the services of our professional caterer, we recommend at least one member of the group gains some training in the safe handling and preparation of food. Safe Food Handling Courses are available online from a range of training providers. For further information on food safety we recommend visiting Queensland Health.  


All visitors are subject to compliance with the Heron Island Research Station Alcohol Guidelines. High School groups are not permitted to bring or consume alcohol while on the Station.

Some local hotels are familiar with the barge delivery service and will arrange for orders to be taken to the barge yard, charging to a credit card.

Possible hotels include:

Celebrations at Diceys Gladstone: 07 4972 7999

Young Australian Hotel: 07 4972 1200
Fax: 07 4972 6397 or email:

Alcohol orders need to be submitted by the Friday preceding the barge delivery. 

Communications and Medical

Communications and Medical


There is typically no mobile phone reception on Heron Island. There is one public phone located outside the kitchen complex and phone cards are available for purchase at the Station. There are also phones located around the Station that visitors can use with a PIN allocated to them on arrival. Charges apply for calls.  

The Library/Computer Room has computers available for guests to access the internet. There is also a wireless network to which personal laptops and devices can be connected. Charges apply for internet access for Non-UQ guests. A username and password can be obtained upon arrival.

Medical Access

All HIRS Staff have advanced first aid training and the Station is well stocked with first aid equipment including oxygen provision kits and a defibrillator. At times a nurse may be located at the resort. If the nurse is available charges apply for consultations and vary depending on time of day, medication given, etc. Please remember that Heron Island is a remote location so consider your medical requirements carefully and ensure you are prepared.

Departing Heron

Departing Heron

Packing up at the end of a field trip can be stressful and often last minute. There are many things you need to consider when packing up your experiments and departing Heron Island.

Accommodation & Luggage:

  • Check out time from your room is 9:00am.
  • Place your luggage in an obvious location outside your room by 9:00am to allow for luggage collection.
  • If you are taking additional freight or equipment on the Catamaran please ensure the HIRS staff have been advised of this at least 24 hours in advance to allow for arrangements to be made.


  • Please collect your boarding pass from the Reception Office between 8:30am and 9:30am and confirm with staff that you have checked out of your room.
  • Please check in with Heron Resort Staff at the Jetty at 12:00pm.


  • The recommendation is to book flights that depart Gladstone from 4:00pm onwards. 

 Barge Freight:

  • Ensure all freight is appropriately packed and labeled.
  • Incorrectly packed or labeled freight may incur additional charges.
  • Where possible use your institutions' freight account. 

Chemicals & Chemical Waste:

  • Where possible you should remove chemical waste or unused chemicals at the conclusion of your visit via the freight barge.
  • If this is not possible please see HIRS staff to arrange for chemical disposal. Charges will apply.
  • All chemicals must be appropriately packed and labeled. Incorrectly packed or labeled chemicals will incur an additional charge.


  • Requirements for transport of samples should be considered carefully.
  • HIRS staff can arrange oxygen, dry ice, ice packs, or a dry shipper on request.
  • If specimens are to be left behind pending freight removal ensure that staff are aware of their location and that they have been appropriately packed and labeled.


  • Some equipment can be left on the island for future visits if prior arrangements are made with staff.
  • Equipment must be appropriately packed and labeled.


  • Other researchers/groups will gratefully accept food donations so please ensure you clean out your fridge and freezer space and donate the contents to those staying on the island.