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Lord Howe Island - October 2020

Keith009

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Just came back from a week in Lord Howe Island. Were it not for international / interstate lockdowns, it's probably not a destination I'd have considered in the short term versus overseas or further afield interstate. But as the Tourism Australia campaign urges, 2020 is the year to #HolidayHereThisYear.

Within our limited choice of available domestic / intrastate destinations I was determined to go somewhere that:
- Is bucket list worthy
- Involves flying
- Has great beaches
- Is suitable for a week of 'doing nothing'
- Doesn't involve interstate border hassles - the Public Health Order imposed on travel to Lord Howe Island due to their limited medical facilities caused a bit of grief but it was repealed in time for our trip.

Located just a 2 hour flight out of Sydney, Lord Howe Island met the brief and more. It's remarkable how I didn't even have to leave the state, yet arrive somewhere that feels like a whole world away. Like I keep telling people, Lord Howe Island reminds me of the Greek Islands; only swap lovely Greek people with equally lovely Lord Howe Islanders (has the vibe of a small country Australian town), hearty and generous Greek cuisine with no less hearty and generous country pub food, and minus Emirates First Class for us Sydneysiders. As a bonus, it's 20 hours closer than Greece which means there's zero jetlag. During daylight savings there's no time difference with Sydney and Melbourne but outside daylight savings Lord Howe Island is 30 minutes ahead of Australian Eastern Standard Time.

Plus, I also got to tick a new aircraft type and airport off my list! First time on a Qantaslink Dash8 Q200, the smallest in the Qantas fleet. And landing at the very short air strip at LDH was quite the experience.

Those Orwellian images of normally bustling airport hallways being totally devoid of people are definitely not exaggerating. Apart from staff, we were usually the only people at the airport, and at one point had the Qantas Lounge to ourselves. If you're normally only eligible for the Qantas Club, you get a 'free upgrade' to the Business Lounge which is otherwise reserved for Business, QFF Platinum+ and OWE pax. The service on QantasLink surprised me - I was expecting very bare bones service due to all the COVID safety measures, but we got generous pours of wine - a choice between a very quaffable Shiraz Cab or Chardy (both from Angove).

http://instagr.am/p/CF5nylGj5C1/
The magic starts immediately upon finals.

http://instagr.am/p/CF6B0zzj1kq/
 
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Keith009

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The foreshore and main lagoon, a short walk away from our accom:
http://instagr.am/p/CF6NtHNjAI5/
http://instagr.am/p/CF8WcxRjHR8/
http://instagr.am/p/CF82LeWjS1Q/
http://instagr.am/p/CGEmoIiDB18/
There is jawdropping natural beauty at every turn... the jetty where you can find a lot of the locals fishing:
http://instagr.am/p/CF8VQB4DgAY/
Probably because it's quiet being the first week after the island's reopening, we almost literally had all the beaches to ourselves. Then again it never really gets busy on Lord Howe Island due to the strict limit on visitor numbers (400 per day).
 
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Keith009

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Old Settlements Beach - we missed the Hemsworths who were also at the same beach 24h earlier... :( This is also the place to spot sea turtles if you venture out to the reef.
http://instagr.am/p/CGG0WMnjaxc/
Lord Howe Island waters see lots of fish:
http://instagr.am/p/CF8Vrncjn69/
You can spend hours and hours hand feeding the fish at Ned's Beach. Lots of king fish, silver drummers and bluefish:
http://instagr.am/p/CF81GfwDQIc/
http://instagr.am/p/CF_fPFGDY53/
The island also sees lots of seabirds - the diversity of wildlife here is just amazing:
http://instagr.am/p/CF-Vr-oj_2G/
 
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Keith009

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A boat trip out to see Ball's Pyramid is a must. We also saw several pods of dolphins along the way and fish we wouldn't see closer to the surface:
http://instagr.am/p/CF-54kIjvsw/
Snorkelling here was an amazing experience, and is much better than up north in the Whitsundays! I need an underwater camera for next time...
http://instagr.am/p/CGCToyoDEGg/
The water is admittedly a bit too nippy for a swim at the beginning of the trip but was glorious when it got warmer towards mid October. We wanted to take advantage of a public holiday in NSW which reduced the number of annual leave days we needed to use. But I'd probably suggest coming here in November or December when it'd be truly nice and warm for swimming.

It was so difficult to leave such a magical place!

http://instagr.am/p/CGJpdFJDBW2/
We also had an amazing view of Circular Quay when we came in to land at SYD - again the terminal was totally deserted apart from the 6 of us who arrived from LDH:
http://instagr.am/p/CGJpu_ej_SH/
When this whole COVID mess is over and the border hassles sorted do consider a trip to Lord Howe Island if you're looking for an amazing spot to relax and disconnect!

Feel free to AMA. :)
 
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kpc

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We have been to Lord Howe twice and agree it is a paradise just 2 hours flight from Sydney. Fortunately we snagged award flights at 32K Qf pts + surcharges return per pax otherwise the airfare is very expensive. Accommodation on the island is expensive too. But given the current travel restrictions for NSW residents, it is definitely a place to consider.
 

Keith009

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We have been to Lord Howe twice and agree it is a paradise just 2 hours flight from Sydney. Fortunately we snagged award flights at 32K Qf pts + surcharges return per pax otherwise the airfare is very expensive. Accommodation on the island is expensive too. But given the current travel restrictions for NSW residents, it is definitely a place to consider.

Award seats weren't available for our dates so we had to pay commercial fares. We had a $400 AMEX voucher to use which helped a bit. The cost of the flight is definitely worth it. Met quite a few QF staff members who were taking advantage of the lull in tourism to visit using staff travel (including an ex-colleague from a previous life at VA). We stayed at Somerset Apartments which was great value - definitely not luxury, but functional and immaculately clean; it's also self-contained which meant we could offset the cost of eating out by cooking on a couple of nights - and also to avoid repetition as not a lot of the restaurants were open in that first week post-reopening (not that there's a lot of choice on the island to begin with). The general store in the village centre sells some amazing steak and snags.
 
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kpc

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Whilst you only are allowed 14kg checked luggage per pax, on our 2nd trip we took as much food and grog as possible with minimal clothes ( Feb)...there are many free BBQ to use throughout the island if you have your own matches, food and grog. You cycle everywhere on the island. The ideal months to go I would say are late Nov to early March otherwise the water is a bit cold.
 

Keith009

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Also to add, even with eating out, it actually works out relatively reasonably priced compared to the more well-known resort destinations like Hamilton Island or Hayman Island. I found the pricing rather fair, considering how almost everything had to be shipped in. It's definitely not a "turn up and be fleeced" type of situation considering the restaurants serve the locals too. Much higher value to quality ratio when compared to the aforementioned Australian island resort destinations.
 
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ellen10

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We had our honeymoon at Lord Howe Island 40 years in August. We had just bought a house, so were broke, and we wanted to fly "overseas" somewhere that we could afford. Loved it, rode bikes everywhere. I remember buying a loaf of bread for the outrageous price of $1 (because it was flown in) and feeding half of it to the fish at Ned's Beach. Played golf, hiked and just loved the relaxed atmosphere. The weekly movie was shown at the local hall. Lots of fish served at the restaurants. Lovely memories!
 

esquire

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Despite travelling all over of the world to some pretty amazing places - this remains in my top 5 places of all time - and it is part of NSW... seeing the trip report makes me want to go back again!
 
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Keith009

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We had our honeymoon at Lord Howe Island 40 years in August. We had just bought a house, so were broke, and we wanted to fly "overseas" somewhere that we could afford. Loved it, rode bikes everywhere. I remember buying a loaf of bread for the outrageous price of $1 (because it was flown in) and feeding half of it to the fish at Ned's Beach. Played golf, hiked and just loved the relaxed atmosphere. The weekly movie was shown at the local hall. Lots of fish served at the restaurants. Lovely memories!


They now sell fish feed at Ned's Beach. There was a sign requesting that we limit ourselves to one cup per person per day and to not feed them anything else to avoid attracting sharks. The fish are so used to people that they swarm around you as you enter the water, until realising that you've run out of food lol. Got to admit the big silver drummers gave me a bit of hibbie jibbies initially when they show their teeth even though they're totally harmless.
 

RB

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Also to add, even with eating out, it actually works out relatively reasonably priced compared to the more well-known resort destinations like Hamilton Island or Hayman Island. I found the pricing rather fair, considering how almost everything had to be shipped in. It's definitely not a "turn up and be fleeced" type of situation considering the restaurants serve the locals too. Much higher value to quality ratio when compared to the aforementioned Australian island resort destinations.

I have enjoyed your report. These are a couple of photos from a Port Macquarie facebook site that show the Island Trader leaving from Port Macquarie to Lord Howe-goes fortnightly
1602482118099.png
 

Keith009

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I have enjoyed your report. These are a couple of photos from a Port Macquarie facebook site that show the Island Trader leaving from Port Macquarie to Lord Howe-goes fortnightly

Thanks! The Island Trader became a lot more irregular when the island was shut to visitors. On the day we arrived, we were told the barge had just arrived for the first time in 6 weeks!

We were also told to pre-order alcohol with Dan Murphy's and ship them across using the Island Trader (a well-practised routine) prior to our arrival, but due to the stop/start nature of our trip and not knowing whether or not it's happening until the week before we arrived, we didn't have time to organise this. We brought along 2 bottles of whisky (could have fit in a few bottles of wine into our checked bags but wanted to be conservative with weight), and bought our wine on the island or at dinner (very few venues allow BYO anyway). The wine selection wasn't too bad but there was certainly a mark up - again not much worse (and at times cheaper) than typical holiday resort pricing.
 
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Keith009

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Despite travelling all over of the world to some pretty amazing places - this remains in my top 5 places of all time - and it is part of NSW... seeing the trip report makes me want to go back again!

I feel exactly the same way. I am so glad I came and can't wait to return.
 

MR61

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Thank you Keith for an excellent trip report ! I can *hardly* wait to be released from Lockdown Melbourne and to book a holiday here. It has been on my radar for a long time, and thanks to your terrific photos and report, I'm not going to hesitate to go. Thanks also for the accomodation recommendation and the tip about shipping alcohol in advance !
 

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I have enjoyed your report. These are a couple of photos from a Port Macquarie facebook site that show the Island Trader leaving from Port Macquarie to Lord Howe-goes fortnightly
View attachment 230237
I have enjoyed your report. These are a couple of photos from a Port Macquarie facebook site that show the Island Trader leaving from Port Macquarie to Lord Howe-goes fortnightly
View attachment 230237
That's interesting! Does the Island Trader take passengers?
 
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I was lucky enough to spend a week working on Lord Howe Island in June 2009 and the place is amazing and it is such a short flight to get there as well.

Landing and taking off from the airport is certainly interesting but the spectacular view flying in past Balls Pyramid and then to see the twin peaks of Lord Howe is breathtaking.

Clean and functional accommodation and amazing beaches and wildlife and scenery as well as friendly locals makes for a wonderful destination and I need to get back there one day for a holiday
 

tgh

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One of the destinations prime assets is the relative scarcity of Homo Sapiens.
The pressure must be building to enlarge the accomodation facilities and to improve the access.
The isolated paradise we all treasure may soon be no more .
 

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