52 Journeys, Australia: No 3, Lord Howe Island revisited!

by | Feb 29, 2024 | Nature, Beach, Travel

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Yes, I went again! When a few guesthouses on the island told me they needed some new imagery, I couldn’t resist. So I hope you don’t mind revisiting this little piece of paradise, with its magnificent volcanic remnant mountains that tower over an enormous lagoon filled with the clearest turquoise water, fish, turtles, rays and the world’s most southern coral reef?!

Unlike last time when it took me almost a year to post about my trip there, this was just over a week ago.

The first thing I did on arrival was peruse a map to determine my game plan for the week; aside from my work, what else would I explore and photograph?

trying to map out my week

after arriving on the tiny Dash-8 turbo prop plane

Slightly overwhelmed – Lord Howe isn’t big but there’s a lot to explore – I decided to abandon any sort of decision making and throw myself into the lagoon. A ritual dunking, to help the mind and body transition from city hustle to island time – unhurried, uneventful but full of possibilities.

Dunking complete, I lay on the sand to take in the scene. I’m a little obsessed with the pontoon that floats on the lagoon’s turquoise water – I love how it provides a stage with that stunning backdrop of the mountains and would return to photograph it many times over the next week. Some days it was a scene of tranquility, with adults lazing about like seals. Other times, it turned into a floating playground, crowded with local kids larking it up after school.

pontoon playground or…

peaceful perch

nice place for a chat

the latest exotic species to be discovered on the island

One morning I met a lovely couple, Emily and Cameron, having a dip in the lagoon. Aside from it happening to be Valentine’s Day, their swimmers were the colour of the island – I had to photograph them.

stripes, above and…

below

the colours of Lord Howe

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snorkelling out on the reef

a sparkling sea

the island’s other colour palette

I’m not a hiker but I decided to do one of the easier walks to the top of Transit Hill. It was unusually hot and humid that day, and after 30 minutes of uphill slog, carrying 10 kg of camera equipment on my back, I was drenched in sweat and slightly exhausted by the time I climbed the final few steps up the elevated viewing platform. And crazily I did the hike twice in one afternoon because I wanted to capture golden hour up there. It was worth it though because it gave you a 360 degree view of the island and its setting in the middle of the ocean. As the light lowered close to the horizon, I took my shots then descended quickly – it would be dark soon and as much as it’s a relief to know that any rustles you hear in the bush are just bird and not snakes, I still found it hard to shake my city-girl paranoia that something out there might want a piece of me!

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golden hour on Transit Hill looking towards Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower

mighty Mount Lidgbird

the only sailing boat moored off the island

All the hiking, swimming and snorkelling leaves you pretty hungry at the end of the day, and I enjoyed revisiting the same places I’d discovered on my previous visit – uber tasty Driftwood and the cool little bar called The Crooked Post, as well as the classics, including sunset-blessed Golf Club, Anchorage and Coral Cafe. I never got around to cooking my own food on one of the handful of bbq’s around the island but it always looked so inviting.

modern SE Asian restaurant, Driftwood, housed within Ocean View Apartments

fish curry, yum!

Sunset Bar & Grill at the Golf Club

The Crooked Post’s tasty lunch and cocktails

bbq with a view

DIY or…

Anchorage Restaurant

So the two guesthouses that I shot interiors for were Ebbtide Apartments and Bowker Beach House, both run by the loveliest people. While Ebbtide is up the hill towards Ned’s Beach and away from the ‘bustle’, Bowker is down lagoon side.

garden unit at Ebbtide Apartments (and where I stayed)

set in a sub-tropical oasis

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an apartment at Ebbtide with a view of the Admiralty Islands

Bowker Beach House

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luxury lagoon-side

On my last morning on the island, just before I flew out, I headed down to Ned’s Beach on the eastern side of the island. The swell had calmed down a little but I wasn’t interested in swimming – I was there for the beautiful morning light as the sun crept over the top of the headland.

the beach to myself

white terns circling around near the cliff’s edge

locals ‘store’ their surfboards in the kentia palm forest across from Ned’s Beach

about as pristine as it gets

every morning firewood is magically replenished at the island’s bbqs

I watched this elderly gentleman have an early morning dip at Ned’s

before cycling back to his guesthouse for brekky

Like I said, I’ve been back for over a week now and I intended to post this sooner. But just as it takes a while for your mind to arrive on Lord Howe Island, it’s taken me a while to ‘return’. Even now I can still feel the pristine, turquoise water lapping around me, the weight of my camera bag on my back as I cycle along gentle, quiet roads.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this second journey to one of my favourite places in the whole wide world. I love it for its dramatic scenery and impressive variety of creatures but also for its simplicity – the empty beaches, bikes instead of cars, a modest number of places to eat, not endless choices. And no ugly, awful development, just low-key luxury.

It must be one of the few remaining corners of the world that we humans haven’t buggered up – may it always be thus!

simple pleasure

until next time, Lord Howe!