What I really liked about Heron Island…
There were lots of entertaining Silvereyes, small, social birds with chartreuse head feathers and eyes that looked like a cosmetician had overdone their eye makeup. They perched on our balcony regularly hoping that we’d give them fruit. We had been strictly warned not to feed them, but their constant begging seemed to indicate that folks ignored the rule. While on a nature walk I asked about them and learned that the ones on the island were permanent residents. The species used to fly back and forth from the mainland, but then some of them began staying year round. It took only 30 years for these stay-at-homes to be declared a separate species. Fast-forward evolution. Wow!
We went out on the helicopter pad one night and looked up at the sky. Our guide from the resort knew astronomy, so, armed with a flashlight (a torch to Aussies), she made the confusion of galaxies somewhat understandable to me, a man who seldom, make that never, sees a night sky like this that looks like an explosion in a glitter factory. My eyes kept returning to the Southern Cross. I had seen it before, but here it seemed close enough to reach up and touch. Wow!
By the third day, I was more than ready to leave when it was announced that the boat that brought us to the Island was out of commission. I almost lost it.
However, those who really needed to leave the next day would be given priority seating on a helicopter that could take them to the mainland. I was first in line.
The next morning Ruth and I learned that our flight was at 2 pm. That left time for 12 walks around Heron Island or a visit to the University of Queensland Research Station. We chose the latter. I learned that, due to a warmer than usual winter and summer, the reef was whitening at an alarming rate. Not a good thing.
The 30 minute flight to Gladstone Airport was both thrilling and liberating. Luckily, a plane left for Brisbane in 20 minutes, so we were checked into our hotel there and doing laundry by 5 pm. Oddly, I was missing Heron Island.
I was also looking forward to our flight to Cairns the next morning. We were on our way to the Northern Territory for the first time.
Two days later I was up at 6:30 am and standing on a highrise balcony looking out over the calm Beagle Gulf and sniffing exotic, first-time smells. I finally went inside and wrote in my diary, “I love Darwin.”