Heron Island Australia (Sometimes You Shouldn’t Go Back)

The first article in our OBT series. The first stop on our roving retirement was Heron Island Australia. Heron Island is located on the Great Barrier Reef about a 2-hour boat ride from Gladstone, Australia, which is itself an hour flight north of Brisbane.

It is one of the few places where you can dive the reef really close to land and I’m not fond of boat rides. But let me get to the caveat above, sometimes you shouldn’t return to a place that you have great memories of.

Why You Shouldn’t Go Back

You see, we came to Heron Island at the beginning of our honeymoon 25 years ago. We remembered the rustic atmosphere and the diving; two awesome dives a day on the then pristine Great Barrier Reef and a short 5-minute boat ride to most of the dive sites. The island was the perfect antidote to a long wedding weekend with lots of relatives and stress. Both of us just remember eating, sleeping, diving, and finding the Southern Cross in the sky. We also remember the five days we spent there was just a few days too short.

Flash forward to last summer when the kids mentioned going on a family vacation that included diving. It occurred to me that showing them this reef would be a wonderful experience. While the island, with its one resort, one restaurant, and one bar are pretty much the same, the reef isn’t as pristine as it was 25 years ago.

What Put a Damper on this Visit

Don’t get me wrong, the reef is beautiful and we saw turtles, sharks, rays, and assorted fish, but it is also winter in Australia. As a result, the visibility wasn’t that good when we could dive and because it was cold and stormy much of our week, we weren’t able to dive for 4 days in a row. Of course, the weather is just luck as the week before and the week after were beautiful and 70 degrees every day. Oh well, unfortunately, we can’t control the weather.

However, not being able to dive four days in a row created issues for our kids, two 22 year-old young men, given the limited internet access. So, they had to entertain themselves somehow. In fact, one day their entertainment was seeing how drunk they could get at the one bar on the island. This activity didn’t come cheap, but they justified it because we weren’t spending the money we allocated to diving. At least, that was their argument. But, we all still managed to have a good time playing cards, reading, circumnavigating the island on foot, and snorkeling on days we couldn’t dive. The island reminded us of the one used in the movie Castaway, only it wasn’t sunny.

That brings me back to “sometimes you just shouldn’t go back to a place that you have especially good memories of”. While I don’t think I’ll forget the warm feelings I had about Heron from our honeymoon, this latest experience has tarnished my overall view of this island retreat and the Great Barrier Reef.

Can you think of a place you shouldn’t go back to for fear of being disappointed?

My recommendation, don’t go back then.

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1 comment

  1. Hi Mike,
    I was considering how to respond, because my first thought was that I usually want to do something new and different when I travel. But that really isn’t true because I remember going back time and again to Napa and Mexico . Both places were reliably wonderful. The problem lies in generalizing.

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