600 kilometers east of the Australian mainland you’ll find Lord Howe Island, a small island in the Tasman Sea with just 350 island residents. The island is part of the Lord Howe Island Group which includes Ball’s Pyramid, nearby.
Lord Howe Island is absolutely picturesque, and is just one of four islands on the UNESCO World Heritage Site register for global significance due to biodiversity and beauty. The Island became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the early 1980s. Two-thirds of the island is a protected Permanent Park Reserve, and surrounding the island is the protected Lord Howe Island Marine Park.
The island is relaxed, with just two main industries: tourism, and the kentia palm export industry. Most folks move around by bicycle, and the speed limit for automobiles is just 25km/hr.
The island was first discovered when Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball navigated HMS Supply past the island on route to Norfolk Island – he was transporting prisoners to the island to set up a penal colony.
It appears that Lord Howe Island was not known to any populations in the South Pacific – such as the Polynesians.
Shipping expeditions often stopped off at the island when traveling between New South Wales and Norfolk Island, but a permanent settlement was not established until the 1830s, in an area now called Old Settlement.
Lord Howe Island is a 10-kilometer by 2-kilometer crescent-shaped island. It is what remains from a 7-million year old shield volcano. The island’s crescent protects a beautiful lagoon and bay. The island has 11 beautiful beaches (including Neds Beach, voted Australia’s cleanest beach in 2004), and is located within a coral barrier reef – the world’s southernmost. The coral reef is home to over 500 fish species and 90 coral species.
Mount Lidgbird (777 meters above sea level) and Mount Gower (785 meters above sea level) are beautiful focal points on the southern part of the island. These mountains are basalt rock from 6.4 million year-old lava flows.
Lord Howe Island was never part of a continent, meaning that it has developed unique flora and fauna that traveled across the sea. About half the island’s plants are considered endemic. Because of this, the Lord Howe Island subtropical forests are the island’s distinct terrestrial eco-region – though the habitats share commonalities with Australia, New Caledonia, and New Guinea.
The island is known for glowing mushrooms – which can be seen after heavy rains; these mushrooms glow brightly enough to be used for bed-time reading!
The island is known for its variety of bird species, with over 130 species including: Providence Petrel, Kermadec Petrel, Black-winged Petrel, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Masked Boobies, Red-tailed Tropicbirds, Black Noddies, Grey Ternlet, Sooty Tern, among others.
The island is a haven: unspoiled nature, endemic and endangered species, mountain mist forests, banyan forests, palm forests, lagoons, cliffs, coral reefs, and mountains.
Activities (Nature and Wildlife Interest)
Visitors to Lord Howe Island have many opportunities to play in nature’s sand box:
- Bushwalking: short easy walks are easily accessible to visitors, as are more challenging hikes, such as the 875-meter Mt. Gower hike – a world-class day hike with a breathtaking summit view. Walk through palm forests and banyan forests.
- Swimming: off Blinky Beach or any number of other beaches
- Snorkeling and diving: guests can snorkel off the beaches, or travel farther afield to snorkel or dive in one of the 50 world-class sites which offer opportunities to see abundant fish and green turtles
- Boating and fishing: charter a glass-bottomed boat to view the marine life, hand-feed meter-long kingfish (at Neds Beach), sea kayak, windsurf
- Birdwatching: The island is home to 14 species of seabirds alone, which nest on the island.
- Museum and visitor centre: Learn about the history of the island and its ecological uniqueness
Lord Howe Island is not a resort-destination island. Instead, accommodations are privately owned and managed, and offer options to suite a variety of needs.
Visitors can stay in self-catered cottages, apartments, guesthouses, and luxurious lodges – there are 17 options to choose from, including:
- Arajilla: the island’s premier retreat, a luxurious accommodation in the forest surrounding Old Settlement
- Ocean View Apartments: removed from the hustle and bustle of the island by being located on its own private road, these apartments are self-contained
- Pinetrees: This famous guest house has been managed by the same family for the last 100 years, so stay here and experience a bit of history while enjoying the island’s only all-inclusive resort experience
- Capella Lodge: This luxurious lodge offers stunning ocean views and topnotch service
- Blue Lagoon: Modern apartments, tennis court, and in a convenient location close to the island’s main facilities
- Howeana: Secluded beach house accommodation meters away from Neds Beach
- Beachcomber: Family guesthouse surrounded by tropical gardens and palmtrees
Lord Howe Island Airport links the island to Australia’s mainland. QantasLink offers flights most days from Sydney with weekend flights from Brisbane. The flight is approximately two hours. During high season (February to June, September to December), a weekly service is available direct from Port Macquarie.
The only way to travel to Lord Howe Island by sea is by sailing a private yacht.
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