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Published on April 28th, 2011 | by john.weir

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Dive into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef: Heron Island Dive Festival 2011

Heron Island is celebrating its status as one of Australia’s top dive destinations with the launch of the Heron Island Dive Festival 2011 from 5 – 11 September  2011.
Heron Island is known the world over for its excellent Great Barrier Reef dive sites and fantastic coral gardens and pinnacles, all just minutes from the beach. So good is the diving that Jacques Cousteau listed the Heron Bommie as one of his Top 10 favourite dive sites.
The Heron Island Dive Festival 2011 will kick off with a gala BBQ and drinks on the Wistari Terrace, followed by an introduction of the week’s stellar line up of acclaimed speakers and diving industry leaders, including:
- award-winning nature and wildlife photographer Gary Bell
- renowned marine scientist and underwater photographer Dave Harasti
- author and diver rescue specialist John Lippmann
- celebrated underwater photographer Bob Halstead
Divers will be able to enjoy two dives a day, plus additional night dives every evening, ensuring they really get to know the myriad dive sites, bommies, and extensive marine life on this southern part of the Great Barrier Reef.
Two boats will offer snorkelling tours every morning and afternoon (with fun treasure hunts for children and adults alike). Guests also have the option of chartering the MV Gatcombe for a day of diving and a gourmet lunch on neighbouring Wilson Island.
Peppered between dives will be a series of interesting land-based lectures and workshops to provide guests with more information about their environment.
The workshops will include basic and advanced photography skills with Gary Bell plus a videographer’s workshop, teaching essential underwater camera skills. Lectures will be held in the Wistari Room and in the classrooms and touch tank at the University of Queensland’s Heron Island Research Station, with subjects as fascinating and varied as Secrets of the Seahorse by Dave Harasti; Learning to See by Bob Halstead; Coral Spawning with Justin Marshall; and Turtles of Heron Island with Collette Bagnato.
For diving novices, Discover Scuba dive classes will take place every morning at the Heron Island swimming pool and in the harbour, essentially for people who are not PADI certified divers but would like to try.
There will also be a series of afternoon wine tastings, cooking master classes plus a range of taster treatments from Heron Island’s spa manager Jo Enslow, designed to get you in the mood for a full treatment at the Heron Island Aqua Soul Spa.
The Heron Island Dive Festival 2011 will close on Sunday 11th September with a gala dinner and presentations from the week’s events.
Heron Island is also an official fringe event of The Underwater Festival 2011, which means that guests at the Heron Island Dive Festival will be able to submit photos in the Underwater Festival’s photo and video shoot-out competition, and be in the running to win. More than $100,000 in prizes are up for grabs!
The underwater photo and video shoot-out competition is happening simultaneously all over Australasia from 2 – 11 September 2011, with 25 countries spanning both hemispheres participating. The showcase of results will be at the OceaniaDive and Travel Expo in Brisbane in October 2011. More information at www.underwaterfestival.org
A natural island, Heron Island is renowned for its birdlife, clear waters and acres of brilliant coral with colourful marine life with more than 20 different dive sites to explore. The waters are teeming with reef fish, turtles, mantas, reef sharks and endless varieties of invertebrates.
Diving at Heron Island is relatively shallow, with an average depth of around 15 to 35 metres, and snorkellers can enjoy the shallow reefs that come up to within two or three metres of the surface in places. The waters of the reef off Heron Island are home to around 60% of the 1,500 species of fish and around 72% of the coral species found in the Great Barrier Reef.
The Heron Island Dive Festival is priced from $299 per person, per night (based on a seven-night package, twin share). The price includes two dives per day (per diver booked), three meals daily, return boat transfers from Gladstone, tanks and weights. Five-night and seven-night packages are available.
Visit The Heron Island Dive-Inn blog site for more information, photos and images http://www.herondiveinn.com/
‘Like’ Heron Island at the Heron Island Facebook page
www.heronisland.com

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