2016 has been my year of domestic travel. I’ve spent a lot of time exploring other countries, I wanted to stay in Australia this year and see my own country. 2016 has taken me to Western Australia, back home to Tasmania, and most recently, a trip to Lord Howe Island. Lord Howe Island has been high on the travel list for some time and I feel blessed to have been able to visit the Island this year. It is a true paradise and a destination where I felt what the world would look like if we didn’t decimate our natural environments and wildlife. With no mobile phone reception and expensive Internet services, I literally disconnected from the world and technology too, giving me time to focus on what matters most to me – spending time with my husband, hiking, photography and being near the ocean.
With only four days to explore this island, we arrived with an itinerary already in mind. I’d recommend staying longer if you have the time, however as we flew using Qantas Frequent Flyer points, we were limited to the days available to use the points.
Our first day was settling into our lodge and getting familiar with the layout of the island. We hired bikes for the entire stay and our first ride was to Old Settlement Beach and along Lagoon Road to watch the sunset. I recommend watching the sunset from a viewpoint opposite the golf course. There is a table with chairs, allowing you to soak up the stunning golden tones of sunlight glistening over the ocean and onto the island – it’s truly magical. We rode back to our lodge, cooked ourselves dinner and had an early night in preparation for our hike up to Goat House Cave the following day.
An early morning rise and we were ready for a full day of adventure. We packed our hiking packs and rode to the trailhead of Goat House Cave. There is no signage to the trailhead, so I’d recommend asking a local for directions, if you cannot work it out. We used a GPS, which had the directions on it, but without it, we wouldn’t have known how to get there. This trail is a challenging 6km return hike and is extremely steep going up and coming back down. In addition, it is very humid, so expect to get sweaty and take plenty of water. The weather was quite dramatic throughout the hike, with winds, light showers, hot sun and then clouds. In many parts of the hike, you will find chains to hold onto, when climbing up and down the steep areas, however once you are up at the top, there is no fencing or anything to hold onto and it’s a sheer drop. So be careful! The views from the top of the hike are absolutely incredible. You can see the island in its entirety and beauty and it makes the strenuous hike well worth it. My aim was to hike Mount Gower, however there were no tours available when we visited, due to low season and the poor weather forecast for the coming days. This was unfortunate but the hike up to Goat House Cave was spectacular and definitely one of the best hikes I have completed in Australia. When you arrive at the Cave, you can keep hiking around the corner and get a glimpse of Balls Pyramid, which is the world’s tallest sea stack and makes for a beautiful image.
During our hike, we were befriended by a local crow. I am sure this crow makes friends with all of the hikers, and waits patiently for food, it was certainly an unusual hiking buddy to have along the way. If you do make the hike yourself, be sure to look out for the crow – it will certainly make itself known to you.
The weather changed from hot and humid with clear skies to darkness and torrential rain on our third day. It didn’t stop us from exploring. I took an afternoon walk in the rain and attempted to take some action shots, but they didn’t turn out too well. Once the rain eased, we packed our wetsuits and went for a snorkel at Ned’s Beach. Ned’s Beach is most famous for the fish feeding, which is a fun experience. At the beach, there is a small undercover area, where you can buy fish food. Then you take the fish food and wade out into the ocean and the fish will instantly appear awaiting to be fed. These fish are a beautiful blue colour and in huge schools. Once they have been fed, they will still stay and hang out with you, which is a great way to spend the day. We snorkeled until sunset with the fish and the visible was excellent, along with seeing the abundance of sea life. As it was our last night, we treated ourselves to a dinner out at the local Bowls Club. I highly recommend the food. I had the snapper and my husband had the steak and both were delicious and very large servings. It’s also a great place to meet the locals and you may even win a meat tray if you buy some raffle tickets.
Our final day was spent hiking the north part of the Island. We rode our bikes to the start of Old Settlement Beach and hiked up towards Mount Eliza. We didn’t have time to hike the entire way, however they section we did hike was again beautiful and offered another view of the Island. I could easily spend a year on Lord Howe Island and forgetting the rest of the world exists. I will definitely be returning for more relaxing, snorkelling and to hike up Mount Gower.
- Lord Howe Island is 600 kilometers off the coast of New South Wales, Australia.
- It is a World Heritage Site and only allows up to 400 visitors at a time.
- QantasLink fly ex Sydney to Lord Howe Island and checked in luggage is limited to 14kg and hand luggage 7kg.
- If you do have Qantas Frequent Flyer points, I highly recommend using them to visit the Island, as from Sydney, it’s only 16,000 points for a return flight, compared to a return airfare of around $1500 AUD.
- Food is quite expensive, therefore consider bringing your own (if you have a kitchen in your accommodation).
- If planning a hike up Mount Gower, you can only do this with a certified guide.
- Plan to stay at least a week.