The jumping-off point for Heron Island is Gladstone, 345 miles north of Brisbane. From LAX, connecting service (change of planes) to Brisbane is available on American, Qantas, Japan, Air New Zealand, United, Korean, Singapore and Malaysia. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $1,784. Qantas offers nonstop flights from Brisbane to Gladstone; restricted round-trip fares begin at $146.
Car rental is available from most major agencies at the Brisbane airport. The drive to Gladstone takes about six hours on the Bruce Highway.
To call numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (international dialing code), 61 (country code for Australia) and 7 (the local code) plus the local number.
WHERE TO STAY:
In Gladstone, the modest but comfortable Best Western Camelot Motel, 19 Agnes St., Gladstone, Queensland 4680; 4979-1222, fax 4979-2700, http://www.bestwestern.com. About $58 double.
Country Plaza International, 100 Goondoon St., Gladstone, Queensland 4680; 4972-4499, fax 4972-4921, http://www.plazahotels.com.au. A more upscale option. Doubles begin at about $70.
Heron Island, P&O Australian Resorts, 245 M Mt. Hermon Road, Box B, Scotts Valley, CA 95066; toll-free from the U.S. (800) 225-9849, fax (831) 335-5239, http://www.poresorts.com. Accommodations start about $120 a night per adult, based on double occupancy, including meals. The tab for children 3 to 12 is about $52 a day. Dives are extra and begin at $25.
Lady Elliot Island, P.O. Box 348, Runaway Bay, Queensland 4216; 5536-3644, fax 5536-7285, http://www.ladyelliot.com.au. From about $85 per person per night, double, including breakfast and dinner.
WHERE TO EAT:
On Heron: The resort's restaurant offers a full Aussie breakfast, buffet lunch and dinner. A sample entree menu for dinner: grilled fillet, mahi-mahi, baked breast of chicken or pasta. On Saturdays there is an extensive seafood buffet, but prime rib also is offered.
On Lady Elliot: Breakfast and dinner are buffet style. Casual lunches are available at the outdoor cafe or from the buffet line for $1.50-$5.50 per person.
TO LEARN MORE:
For information on the southern Great Barrier Reef, try http://www.barrierreef.net.
Australian Tourist Commission, 2049 Century Park East, Suite 1920, Los Angeles, CA 90067; (800) 369-6863, fax (661) 775-4448, http://www.australia.com.