One Tree Island, Qld. 2021


One Tree Island Research Station is run by the University of Sydney. (photo above from their website)

Our journey to One Tree Island started from Heron Island Research Station where we were volunteering. One Tree Island is aprox 10.5 nautical miles (19.5 kms) south east of Heron Island, and takes about an hour from there by boat.

There is no pontoon or jetty so supplies and luggage is handed over the side of the boat and carried onto the island.

One Tree Island Research Station is run by The University of Sydney.

Heinrich and Ruby are the station managers and passionate conservationists. One of the many things they do is to keep non-indigenous flora at bay on the island, which was one of the tasks we were able to help with during our time volunteering there.

Volunteer Work

Around the station

Our accomodation. Coral rubble floors meant wearing shoes inside as it was quite sharp.

The only fresh water source on One Tree Island is rain water, and it doesn’t rain much. We were each allocated one 10 litre bucket of water a day for showering.

The toilets are waterless drop toilets using sawdust, and has a great view of the nesting White Capped Noddies.

In the middle of the night, while walking along the path to the toilet, I almost tripped over this lovely Green Turtle on her way to nest. Not many turtle nest on One Tree Island as there is no sand. But occasionally they do, and sometimes they even have successful hatchings.

Turtles weren’t the only mothers wanting to lay eggs. This lovely huntsman spider was wandering around with a hug egg sac (the white disc).

Snorkelling on One Tree Reef

Two Tree Island

At low tide it is possible to walk from One Tree Island to Two Tree Island. The walk took us about 2 1/2 hours return.

Night Snorkels

Having bought an ultraviolet torch to view coral polyps at night, we jumped at any opportunity to go snorkelling at night. So magical. Our photography skills underwater at night are not great, but we hope these pics can bring you some of the magic.

This Giant Moray Eel wasn’t happy about being disturbed.

Island Walk

One Tree Island is 4 hectares (about 9 acres). Walking around it would take about 30 minutes if it were sand, but due to the rough terrain and high winds it can take an hour. From the top of the shingle slope, It is possible to see the pond of brackish water. It is the only pond on the island and rises and falls with king tides. Around the pond are nesting grounds for a variety of migratory birds, so large areas of the island are off limits to humans during nesting season.


Summer is nesting time for White Capped Noddies, Bridled Terns, and Shearwaters (mutton birds). Shearwaters don’t nest on One Tree Island as the coral rubble doesn’t allow them dig their one metre tunnels to make their nest.


The video below was taken during our stay by Joeva Dachelet, a talented new photographer.

Joeva Dachelet, photographer.

Check out her instagram posts here.

Bait Ball

We came across a bait-ball 30 metres wide. After checking quickly for sharks we jumped in and swam through the most amazing underwater event.


Farewell One Tree Island

There are no barge services to One Tree Island so all rubbish and supplies go via Heron Island for transport to and from the main land.

Arriving Back On Heron Island

Transporting rubbish from the jetty to the industrial bins.

Heron Island Research Station

We spent a few more days at Heron Island Research Station before heading home for Christmas.

We found this nest of Buff Banded Rail eggs while demolishing and rebuilding a fence.

It’s turtle nesting season and up to 20 turtles can come ashore on Heron Island to nest each night. People sitting on the beach watching the sunset are often surprised by Green Sea Turtles walking up the beach between them to nest. Most of these pics have two turtles in them, quite rare on most beaches.

Fare well Heron Island.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Christmas.

Til next time, Helen & Tim