I've officially arrived on paradise island. We took an overnight train from Cairns to Gladstone, where we then boarded a ferry to get to Heron Island.
The train was adorable and we ate three meals aboard it. I was bunked in a 1st class room with Linda - no idea how we scored that situation, but we only had two beds in our room instead of the really cramped 3-bed rooms that most of our group had. The food was pretty good and I spent most of the 21 hour trip reading a fantasy book from my TA Diana and sleeping. It was just the relaxing trip we all needed!
We arrived in Gladstone around 6:30 and waited around the ferry dock until we departed at 11 for the island. I slept most of the ride, but woke up in time to see our arrival upon the island. We passed lots of little exposed reefs because it was low tide. I LOVE the Great Barrier Reef. It is phenomenally beautiful, and we had a brief snorkel test around this partially submerged shipwreck surrounded by tons of fish, sharks, corals, and turtles. Unbelievable. And according to Selena, one of our professors and my research instructor, the snorkeling gets WAY better! So I can't wait for classes, since we snorkel every day and learn oceanographic lab techniques. I still can't believe this is school.
Approaching Heron Island:
Exposed reefs from the boat:
The reef at low tide:
Also, the stars look magnificent from the beach here. I sat with KL, Erikka, and Ilan for about half an hour and saw tons of shootings stars, birds flying, and lots of constellations. Lisa saw a turtle laying eggs further up the beach, so tonight I'm on a mission to see the same!