Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island, a world heritage-listed island, is an irregularly crescent-shaped volcanic remnant in the south-west Pacific Ocean, lying in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand. The island is about 10 km long and up to two km wide. Along the west coast, there is a semi-enclosed sheltered coral reef lagoon with white sand, and is one the most accessible of the island’s eleven beaches.
At the south of the island, there are two volcanic mountains — Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower — the latter of which rises to 875 m and is the highest point on the island. In the North, where most of the population live, the high points are Malabar and Mount Eliza, and in between these is an area of cleared lowland used for farming and the airstrip.
The Lord Howe Island Group comprises 28 islands, islets and rocks. Apart from Lord Howe Island itself, the most notable of these is the pointed rocky islet named Ball’s Pyramid that lies 23 km to the south-east. A 551 m high eroded, uninhabited volcano, Ball’s Pyramid is home to an amazing number of birds, and also contains the only known population of the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect, formerly thought to be extinct.
To the North, there is the Admiralty Group, a cluster of seven, small, uninhabited islands. To the East is Mutton Bird Island, while in the lagoon lies Blackburn (Rabbit) Island.
At the 2006 Census, the resident population was 348 people whilst the number of tourists is not allowed to exceed 400. Residents are involved with the Kentia Palm industry, tourism, retail, some fishing and farming.
Lord Howe Island has a subtropical climate. In general, the summers are mild or warm with rainfall erratic but occasionally heavy, while in winter, it is cool with more uniform rainfall. July is the windiest month, and the winter months are subject to frequent gales and strong winds.
Average max temperatures range from 18°C in the winter to 25°C in the summer. Humidity averages 65% all year, and the rainfall is about 1600 mm. The driest months are from November to February.
There are no snakes, no venomous or stinging insects, animals or plants, and no dangerous daytime sharks off the beaches.
A total of 202 different bird species have been recorded on the island – 18 of which are land birds that breed on the island. There are many more migratory species that occur on the island and its adjacent islets, with a few tame enough that it is possible for humans to get quite close.
Fish and Coral
Over 500 species of fish have been recorded at Lord Howe Island; 70% are sub-tropical due to the warm waters.
The island’s signature plants are the Kentia and Curly Palms and they dominate the landscape in many places. At altitudes above 350 m, you can find the Big Mountain Palm, with large golf-ball-sized fruits. Meanwhile, the Little Mountain Palm has marble-sized fruits and is only found at the very highest locations.
You will have picked up from the high level of satisfaction on our return last night that everyone enjoyed it greatly. Kirsty is not only an excellent pilot but a very good and well organised tour leader. It was good to see that all of us on this trip had been with Kirkhope before.