Lord Howe Island is an irregularly crescent-shaped volcanic remnant in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, 600 kilometres directly east of mainland Port Macquarie, and about 900 kilometres from Norfolk Island.
Popular tourist activities include scuba diving, birdwatching, snorkelling, surfing, kayaking, and fishing. To relieve pressure on the small island environment only 400 tourists are permitted at any one time.
The island is about 10 kilometres long and between 2 kilometres and 0.3 kilometres wide with an area of 14.55 km2, of which only 398 hectares is in the lowland settled area. Along the west coast there is a sandy semi-enclosed sheltered coral reef lagoon. Most of the population lives in the north, while the south is dominated by forested hills rising to the highest point on the island, Mount Gower (875 metres). The Lord Howe Island Group comprises 28 islands, islets and rocks. Apart from Lord Howe Island itself the most notable of these is the volcanic and uninhabited Ball's Pyramid about 23 kilometres to the south-east of Howe. To the north there is the Admiralty Group, a cluster of seven small uninhabited islands.
The Lord Howe Island Group is recorded by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site of global natural significance. Most of the island is virtually untouched forest with many of the plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Other natural attractions include the diversity of its landscapes, the variety of upper mantle and oceanic basalts, the world's southernmost barrier coral reef, nesting seabirds, and its rich historical and cultural heritage. The Lord Howe Island Act of 1981 established a "Permanent Park Preserve" (covering about 70% of the island). The surrounding waters are a protected region designated the Lord Howe Island Marine Park.
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 rainfall more or less uniform. There is a gradual transition from summer to winter conditions and vice versa. Winds are frequent and salt-laden being moderate easterlies in the summer and fresh to strong westerlies in the winter. July is the windiest month, and the winter months are subject to frequent gales and strong winds.
Storms and occasional cyclones also affect the island. Rainfall records are maintained in the north where rainfall is less than in the frequently cloud–shrouded mountains of the south. There can be wide variation in rainfall from year to year. July and August are the coldest months with average minimum temperatures of about 13 °C and no frost. Average maximum temperatures range from between 17 °C and 20 °C in the winter to between 24 °C and 27 °C in the summer. Average minimum temperatures range from between 12 °C and 15 °C in the winter to between 18 °C and 22 °C in the summer. The humidity averages in the 60% to 70% range year round becoming more noticeable on warmer summer days than in the cooler winter months. The island has reasonably high rainfall, with an annual average and median of about 1,600 mm. The driest months are from November to February. The highest temperature ever recorded is 29.5 °C and the lowest 6 °C.
Lord Howe Island is approximately 2 hours direct flying time with QantasLink from Sydney (daily), Brisbane (weekends) and Port Macquarie (weekly, seasonal). This flight is one of the most expensive domestic flights in Australia at around $500 each way and services are operated by Dash 8 turboprops.
You'll be asked where you are staying as you arrive.
The main roads of the island connecting the airport, accommodation, restaurants and golf club are within easy cycling distance. The bicycle comes into its own and is the most popular form of transport, with bike racks situated everywhere.
Walking is easily possible around the town and between most accommodation and the beaches. The island's roads have a slow speed limit.
There is no taxi service or public transport on the island. All accommodation providers include transport to and from the airport on arrival, and transport to dinner at 6:30PM. The restaurants all provide transport back to your accommodation after your meal.
There is a choice of restaurants on Lord Howe, catering mainly to a high end market. Expect to pay up around $25 for mains at the clubs, and $35 to $55 most other places. Limited choice is usually the order of the day, expect only four or so dishes on the menu each night, and for half of them to be locally caught fish.
The general arrangement is to book your restaurant for the night before noon. There is usually a booking sheet out the front of each restaurant for this purpose if you want to cycle around, or you can call them from the free phone out the front of Thompson's Store. You should then put your name down at your accommodation for a lift, and the restaurant will then provide you with transport home. Because of this arrangement, with accommodation providing a lift at 6:30pm dinner commences at this time.
For lunch, Thompson's Store sells hamburgers around $8 each 11:00am-2:00pm. You can get rolls and sandwiches from the Anchorage or from the Coral Cafe for around $15 until 2:00pm.
Most accommodation has some facilities for preparing your own food. There are barbecues on the beach, well stocked with wood, but you will need matches and probably firelighters.
You should have a good plan for where and how you are eating each day. Restaurants do book out. The lunch take-away option is gone from 2:00pm. Shops close for provisions around 6:00pm. Making a decision on dinner at 5:00pm can mean you go hungry.
There are no pubs on Lord Howe, but there is a bar at the Bowling Club and the Golf Club with a mix of locals and visitors. Friday night tends to be the biggest night, but even then things tend to be quiet by 9:00pm. Most people aren't at Lord Howe for the nightlife.
Tourist accommodation ranges from luxury lodges to apartments and villa units.
Although the island walks are well formed, all the cliffs are unfenced. Some of the island's lookouts are named for the people who have fallen and died there. Take care near the cliff edges. The island locals will tell of occasions where people have broken limbs on the Gower walk, having to wait in the bush overnight while a rescue helicopter is sent from the mainland.
There are no mobile phone towers on Lord Howe Island, and consequently no mobile phone reception of any kind. There are coin operated public phones in town, and at several locations around the island.
Internet (two terminals + Wi-Fi) is available for a fee at the visitor information centre when it is open. Some accommodation providers have Wi-Fi or terminals as well. The Internet connections aren't particularly fast, and if something breaks that needs replacement, it can be unavailable for weeks.
Australia Post has a postal agency on Lord Howe Island open Monday-Fridays 9:00am-1:00pm & 2:00pm-4:00pm. From Sep-May airmail is dispatched and received every day except Friday. In the winter months, mail is dispatched whenever flights operate.
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