Skip to main content
One Tree Island aerial view

One Tree Island

A pristine island with limited human influence
One Tree Island is the only research station licensed to facilitate teaching and research on the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

One Tree Island is a coral cay of about 4 hectares, situated at the southeast end of its reef which is 5.5 km long and up to 3.5 km in size. It lies in the centre of the Capricorn Group of the Great Barrier Reef, about 20 km east of Heron Island and about 100 km off the Queensland coast from Gladstone. 

The Australian Museum began research at One Tree Island in 1965 and it has been managed by the University of Sydney since 1974. The site is renowned for Great Barrier Reef research with a bibliography of 300+ titles. Research at the station has focused on climate change and bleaching, eutrophication of reef systems, carbonate chemistry, geology, sedimentation and the ecology of reef organisms.

How to book

To make a booking please contact one of our Station Managers. At the time of your booking ensure that you state your laboratory, boating and general requirements. Please note that prior to your arrival at the station you will have to send a copy of your research permit, your risk assessment and if diving, a copy of your institutions dive approval. No groups will be allowed at the station without these documents.


Facilities and services

Marine research

If your work is classified as “limited impact” and you provide an "As of Right" (AoR) letter stating this from your accredited institution, a research permit may be authorised.

Professor Maria Byrne at the University of Sydney is legally accredited to issue "limited impact” permits. 
All other research requires a permit issued by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Please apply at least 90 days in advance of your intended research activity:

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 
PO Box 1379, 
Townsville QLD 4810 
Phone:+61 7 4750 0758, 
Fax: +61 7 4772 6093  

Terrestrial research

One Tree Island itself is a National Park and a separate permit is required for work on the rubble cay; this includes any land-based research (above the high tide mark). 
For permits to conduct land-based research on One Tree Island please apply to the Queensland Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing at least 40 days in advance of your intended research activity:

Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing 

One Tree Island Research Station (OTIRS) accommodates a maximum of 28 people in two buildings. Eagle View houses up to 16 visitors while Lagoon View houses up to 12 visitors. Both buildings have bunk-style bedrooms, common living areas, fully fitted kitchens, and dining areas. Lagoon View has unique rubble floors except for the kitchen area which has a timber floor.  


You are expected to bring all your scientific equipment, computers, batteries and reactives with you. Please contact the Station if you have any queries or special requirements.

All your equipment and reactives must be transported on the same barge that leaves Gladstone on Thursdays. This means your equipment should be ready to be loaded on the barge on the previous Monday, at the latest.

We run on solar power with a back-up generator if required. If you need a lot of energy for your experiments (e.g. temperature controlled experiments), the generator might be necessary and you will be charged for fuel.

Dry Lab

This laboratory has standard flooring and approximately 12 lineal metres of bench space. 240 volt power outlets are located in this laboratory. 

Equipment available:

  • Small bench top centrifuge
  • 2 top pan balance (2 decimal places) and (3 decimal places)
  • 3 good microscopes, 1 compound, 2 dissecting with lights
  • 3 lesser quality microscopes
  • Epson HD projector 

Aquarium Building (Wet Lab) 

This is a sheltered outdoor lab space overlooking the lagoon with sea tables set up for continual salt water flow input. Fresh water is UV sterilised and both fresh and seawater can be filtered (0.35 μm) so it is of sufficient quality for larval work. If you require 0.2 μm filtered water please notify the station. There will be a charge for the filter. 
At the rear of the Aquarium Building are two rooms with bench space where experiments and microscopic observations can be conducted. One room is an air-conditioned dark room, while the other room can be transformed into a dark or light work space.

Bio Lab 

This is an air conditioned physiology unit equipped with:

  • Electronic balance
  • Centrifuge
  • Basic lab equipment 

OTIRS bench fees include the use of the Station’s smaller boats. Fuel for the boats is charged at $55 per caddie.

Propeller damage will incur a repair cost : $100 if repairable.

Replacement propeller cost: $300.

The larger research vessels, Orcinus II and Linckia II, can also be hired at the following rates:

Linckia II: $160 per hour + $140 per engine hour, skipper included.
Orcinus II: $100 per hour + $50 per engine hour, skipper included.

  • RV Linckia II is a well-equipped 11m vessel with twin 225 HP motors. This boat is ideal for work outside of the lagoon and around the Capricorn-Bunker Group of the GBRMP and can also be used for research projects involving overnight deployments. It can transport up to 12 passengers with baggage and equipment. 
  • RV Orcinus II is a 5.9m aluminium pontoon boat with twin 60 HP motors for work in and outside the lagoon, and transfers between One Tree Island and Heron Island. It can transport up to 4 passengers with baggage or up to 6 without baggage.

    One Tree Island has the following boats available to visitors at no additional fees (fuel not included), providing they hold a nationally recognised recreational boat license or above.

  • 2 x 3.6m aluminium flat bottom Punts for use inside the lagoon with 9.9 HP outboard. Maximum capacity of 2 passengers. The cost of the use of these boats is included in bench fees, excluding fuel.   
  • 2 x 3.9m aluminium pontoon boats (Sea Star and Sea Horse) for use inside and outside the lagoon, and up to 500m from the reef edge, with the use of 9.9 HP, 25 HP or 30 HP outboards. Maximum capacity of 6 passengers. The cost of the use of these boats is included in bench fees, excluding fuel.  
  • 1 x 4.1m aluminium pontoon boat (Sea Breeze) with a detachable canopy for use inside and outside the lagoon, and up to 500m from the reef edge, with the use of 9.9 HP, 25 HP and 30 HP outboards. Maximum capacity of 5 passengers. The cost of the use of these boats is included in bench fees, excluding fuel.

Weight belts, weights, scuba tanks, and the first tank are included in bench fees. Tank refills are charged at $10 per fill. The station has a limited number of BCD’s, regulators, wetsuits, masks, snorkels and fins that can be hired. Wetsuit hire is approx $5.50 per day and regulator hire is approx $16.50 per day.

Phone access

Mobile phone access is available on the island if you are connected to a Telstra network.


Internet access is via high-speed microwave link and is included in the bench fees.

Labour hire

A $120.00/hour call-out fee will be imposed for unnecessary rescue searches.

One Tree Island staff labour hire is $50.00/hr.

For more information about the Cyclone Management Plan for One Tree Island please contact

Logistics and costs

The following is a checklist of the things you should consider when planning your trip, but first please drop us an e-mail and we will be really happy to help you as much as we can in organising your trip:

  • Best dates for access to research sites
  • Availability and use of Station facilities and equipment
  • Permits required to visit and conduct research
  • Fieldwork plan
  • Risk assessments
  • Ordering of food and supplies
  • Transfer of equipment and food on weekly/fortnightly barge
  • Transfer of researchers to and from Station
  • Sample storage and transfer
  • Appropriate footwear and clothing
  • Linen/sleeping bags

One Tree Island Research Station Bench Fees (per-day, includes GST). Please contact our Station Managers for a comprehensive pricelist.

Senior researcher  $130 $155 
Employed research assistants/visiting scientists   $75  $90
Postgraduate/undergraduate/honours Student  $70 $85
Volunteer/research student assistants  $60 $70 
Student groups (min. 10 people 4 nights)  $70 $85
Writing retreat (returning researcher wishing to write up, no use of facilities)  $50 $60 
Commercial    $270 

* 10% discount if 28 days or more 
* 1 educator free per every 10 students (strictly) 
* Visits of less than 5 days incur an induction fee of $100 per team (<10 people) or $200 per team (>=10 people). 

All transport bookings from Gladstone are organised by the Managers of One Tree Island Research Station to ensure that local tide constraints are taken into account. All travel is weather dependent.

Bus transfer (when available) Gladstone Airport to marina: $20

By Sea

Gladstone – Heron Island, Heron Islander catamaran, per person one-way: $145

OTI – Heron Transfer (regular run – usually Friday’s) per person one-way: $70
OTI – Heron Charter, up to 12 people + equipment: price on request

By Air:

Australia by Seaplane offers chartered seaplane flights to One Tree Island from Gladstone at most tide heights. Costs are approximately $1000 for up to 3 passengers or $1600 for up to 6 passengers (weight restrictions apply). 

Australia by Seaplane:

Ph: 07 4972 1940
Mob: 0419 669 575

Marine Helicopter Charter can provide a charter service to One Tree Island. Luggage on the helicopter is limited to 15kg per person. 

Phone: 07 4978 0129

Visitors to One Tree Island Research Station are required to self-cater. This arrangement also applies to overnight stays on Heron Island Research Station (HIRS) but it may be possible to dine at Heron Island Resort or to have your group catered for at HIRS (please speak to our managers to discuss your options).

Local supermarkets and bottle shops at Gladstone are familiar with the barge delivery service to the islands. The barge arrives at HIRS either every Thursday, or every second Thursday, where your food will be stored appropriately until your transfer to One Tree Island.

All orders must be made by Monday at midday in order to make it onto to that week’s barge. Please take into account that, on top of the cost of food, you will be charged for the transport and delivery to HIRS.

Food and freight are brought to Heron Island on a barge service that generally runs fortnightly, then picked up by OTIRS staff when possible. 

The barge usually arrives at Heron on a Thursday but the schedule is periodically altered due to public holidays and unforeseen circumstances. Please confirm barge dates with OTIRS staff prior to organising the delivery of food or freight.

Please plan your freight deliveries carefully, and liaise with OTIRS staff as many times as you need. 

If freight is not delivered to the barge yard on time it may not be delivered to Heron Island for another week or two. There is also the possibility that the tides at OTI do not allow for the boat to get to Heron on a given week to collect goods and gear. 

When organising the delivery of large freight/scientific equipment items, it is best to allow plenty of time, 2-4 weeks is not unreasonable. 

For freight to be loaded onto the barge on a given Wednesday you must take into account the following cut-off times:

Non-perishable goods must arrive at the barge yard by 3:00pm on the Monday.

Perishable items (i.e., food orders) between 7:00am-2.00pm on the Tuesday ONLY.

Ensure all goods are clearly labelled with the following:

Your name
Via Gladstone Qld 4680 

11 Rooksby Street, Gladstone, Qld, 4680.
Phone: 07 4972 5601 fax: 07 4972 440

The following prices are only indicative and are subject to change:

Food box/medium box: $30

Nally bin/large box up to 50kg: $45

Large crates 50-100kg: $65

Pallets (about 32 food boxes): $420

Excess Freight on Catamaran

No general goods are carried on the Heron Islander including food. If you require special consideration for additional luggage, please contact the One Tree Island managers. Allow extra time if you have extra luggage.