Friendly Heron Island

Heron Island Resort (write GPO Box 478, Sydney NSW 2001, Australia, fax +61 2 9299 2477, e-mail or visit is wonderful and right on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, about 40 miles from the shore of Queensland.

It is rather expensive to get there; during our visit several years ago, the 2-hour catamaran ride was US$72 per person each way and the helicopter much more, with the lowest-priced private accommodations costing US$157 per person per day, including three fine meals. (2006 room prices start at Aus$250, or near US$189.)

What made it all worthwhile were the unique beauty and friendliness of the place, the presence of Heron Island research station, with the world’s premier authorities on large turtles, and the high quality of the mostly college-age staff whose knowledge and enthusiasm made walks on the reef or rides in a semisubmersible glass-bottomed boat extremely informative and meaningful.

We will never forget watching a laparoscopic operation performed on a 150-pound turtle, turned on her back; the researcher was determining her age. After the operation, they sewed her up and she returned happily to the water.

Ardmore, PA