Howe to have a great holiday

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Sponsored content: Get on your bike and experience this sub-tropical South Pacific island paradise.

Lord Howe Island view

There are a lot of wobbly people on Lord Howe Island. They’re outside restaurants, along the beaches, leaving cafes, puffing up hills and bumping along bush tracks.

Of course, we are talking bicycle wobbly!

Young, old and all the in-betweens, balancing their backpack-burdened bodies on bikes as they wheel around the island – some learning, others trying to remember.

Lord Howe Island is an experience you won’t forget.

Six hundred kilometres off the east Australian coast, it’s a two-hour flight from Port Macquarie or Sydney, time for a snack, drink and movie before coral reef flashes beneath the landing gear and you touch down on this tiny sub-tropical paradise.

The car trip to your accommodation is the first clue that, although you are still in Australia, you feel you’re not.

The speed limit is 25km/h, making city “school zones” seem like speedways.

Bike and hike it

But forget cars. Cycling is how you get around Lord Howe, and in the fat saddle of a Malvern Star, you’ll feel worthy of a yellow jersey on your “Tour de Howe”.

End to end, the island is 11km long and mostly flat along the main stretch, Lagoon Road, which tracks the shore of the Tasman Sea.

You’ll have to suck in lots of air for the heart-thumping pedal up Middle Beach Road, but the effort is rewarded with a cooling, leafy stroll through centuries-old Banyan trees and a panoramic view of the South Pacific.

The downhill ride back to town is as slow or as terrifyingly fast as you want it to be.

If you’re not biking, you’re hiking.

Any wobbly people not on bikes have probably just finished the eight-hour trek of Mount Gower, Lord Howe’s towering, iconic landmark.

It’s one of the greatest day walks in the world. Be sure to pack stamina and courage with the snacks.

It’s a gutsy 875m mountain climb – 14km of rugged track with rock scrambles and cliff edges with nothing but a rope between you and a Spielberg-scary drop-off. But you’re not alone.

Mount Gower is a guided climb and Dean Hiscox from Lord Howe Environmental Tours knows every rock on the route.

The island’s park ranger for 16 years, Dean’s a walking-talking expert on Lord Howe’s birds, trees, ferns, mosses and orchids on the mountain, many not found anywhere else on Earth.

Standing on Mount Gower’s summit is a David Attenborough moment.

On a clear day, it’s one of the best views in the South Pacific.

When misty it is an eerie, magical forest.

After Sir David visited in 1997, he said it was “… so extraordinary it is almost unbelievable. Few islands, surely, can be so accessible, so remarkable, yet so unspoilt”.

You don’t need to be a mountaineer. Malabar Hill, Mount Eliza, The Old Gulch and Transit Hill are easy-to-moderate tracks and even better if you can coax your holiday body out of bed for sunrise.

Your guides will be waiting – thousands of seabirds!

Away with the birds

Lord Howe is an exceptional birdwatching destination.

Hundreds of thousands of seabirds breed on the island – sooty terns own the sand dunes while masked boobies, redtailed tropicbirds and the rare providence petrel dance the skies, their aerial courtship ballets so beautiful.

Scurrying along the ground is the rare Lord Howe Island woodhen, a flightless bird that was recently saved from extinction.

But it’s at dusk the avian entertainment really begins.

Flesh-footed shearwaters, or muttonbirds, fly in from their day’s fishing and crash through the forest canopy, stumbling like drunks to their sandy burrows.

They are friendly, fearless and their “Pick me! Pick me!” call is so human-like it’s hilarious, endearing and will have you mimicking it for days.

Ned’s Beach is the best place to see them but walk or drive, don’t cycle – a muttonbird in the face while riding a bike is not an experience you’ll want to remember.

Happiest fish in the world

In daylight hours, Ned’s Beach, Lord Howe’s famous cove, is another laugh.

Tiptoe into the water and there’s an instant party of mullet and rainbowcoloured wrasse schooling around your legs, their tiny mouths gaping for the fish food they know you bought at the beach shack.

Snorkel out the “sand road”, a passage through the reef, to see some bigger fish – the little Galapagos sharks are never shy for a photo.

And on the lagoon side, Dean’s glassbottom boat floats you over the most southern coral reef in the world and he won’t be offended if you jump ship to get your close-ups.

Sleep it off in style

If you want to sleep like Chris Hemsworth, book the Aussie Hollywood star’s favourite place – Island House.

If that’s not in the budget, there are other beautiful lodges, apartments, villas and guesthouses to choose from.

Wherever you sleep, smile, knowing you are one of the few guests allowed on Lord Howe at any one time.

For more information visit  www.lordhoweisland.info


Story Susan Elliott 
Photos Susan Elliott and Lord Howe Island Tourism

 

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The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.