A thin sliver of land off the east coast of Australia, Lord Howe Island perfectly embodies that old saying about quality over quantity. Just 11km long and less than 3km wide, it’s home to fewer than 350 people, many of them descendents of the original English settlers who arrived in the mid-19th century. Only 400 visitors are allowed on the island at any time – a policy that’s been in place for decades to preserve the incredible native flora and fauna.
In 1982, Lord Howe Island was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and Sir David Attenborough is widely quoted as calling it a place “so extraordinary it’s almost unbelievable”. Bicycles are the preferred mode of transport; there’s no mobile phone or internet reception; and all manner of essentials – from fresh fruit to snorkelling gear – can be purchased by leaving money in a roadside honour box.
In the middle of this slice of paradise sits Island House, a brand new eco-friendly lodge. Originally a group of apartments built in the 1970s, the site has been completely remodelled and now comprises two houses that are equipped with everything you’d need for a languid and luxurious week-long stay.
The kitchen and bar are fully stocked (a private chef is also available on request), and there’s a well-appointed library and collection of board games for quiet times indoors. Artworks by prominent Australian indigenous artists line the walls, complementing the seriously impressive selection of mostly Scandinavian mid-century furniture.
This Lord Howe Island resort is surrounded by towering palm and banyan trees for complete privacy. It’s a feature that was no doubt appreciated by Chris Hemsworth and his family when they holidayed at Island House, Lord Howe Island earlier this year.
Schedule a full day to climb Mount Gower, Lord Howe’s tallest mountain. You’ll need it – the mountain itself is 875 metres high, however the terrain is rugged and challenging, and the return hike takes around eight hours. Along the way, you’ll see some of the rarest flora and fauna on the island, and the view from the top is unrivalled. All hikers must be accompanied by a local guide, who can also explain more about the island’s history and environment.
It’s impossible to miss the wildlife on the island, but do some research and chat to locals to truly get the most from the experience. A particular call, for example, will literally summon flocks of Providence petrels from the sky, encouraging these seabirds to land and waddle happily towards the caller. Book a snorkelling or diving adventure to get the lowdown on the local aquatic life.
How to get to Lord Howe Island
There are regular commercial flights to Lord Howe Island from both Sydney and Brisbane, and charter flights are also available from Port Macquarie airport.
Written by Michelle Bateman