Heron Island is a coral cay located near the Tropic of Capricorn in
the southern Great Barrier Reef, 72 km north-east of Gladstone. The
eastern half of the island is protected and forms part of the
Capricornia Cays National Park, with a permanent ranger's station
The island did not become inhabited until the early 20th century when a
turtle cannery was established. The aim was to profit from the seasonal
influx of green turtles, but the venture soon found it difficult to
keep the business afloat. Other attempts at establishing fisheries were
Heron Island Resort, operated by Delaware North, is located in the
north-west corner of the island. The resort is a popular getaway for
scuba diving and snorkeling and accommodates up to 200 guests and 100
The University of Queensland Heron Island Research Station is situated
in the island's south-west quarter. Established in the 1950s, the
facility is one of the world's principal coral reef research stations,
with a wide variety of research undertaken on coral reef ecology.
The vessel Jane Lockhart sunk between the 11 through to the 17 December
1868 on Lady Musgrave Island / Heron Island / Masthead Reef or One Tree
Island The vessel was a 2 Mast Schooner . Departed from Sydney with
general cargo for Broadsound; and ran aground on Lady Musgrave Is;
maybe on Heron Is or One Tree Island or Masthead Reef Lost on a reef
off Heron Island on the night of 17 December 1868. The crew took to the
boat and safely reached the Pilot Station at Keppel Island.
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There is a small man-made channel and wooden jetty on the western
shore of the island, where the daily catamaran launch from Gladstone
docks and supplies to the island are delivered. The rusted wreck of the
HMCS Protector lies at the entrance to the channel, and was towed to
there in 1945 to form a dive and snorkelling site.
The island is about 800 metres long and 300 metres at its widest,
giving an area of approximately 16 hectares. The highest point, near
the western tip, is 3.6 metres ASL. A dune ridge along the southern
shore rises some 3 metres ASL, lower dunes on the northeastern side are
only about one metre above the sea.