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The Tasman Sea, the sea we love so much because it separates us from Australia, holds a particularly special secret. Look at any map and all you’ll see is an empty blue patch of water. But if you look closer, or scroll in, you’ll find a small island right in the middle. A beautiful and undiscovered paradise called Lord Howe Island.
Lord Howe Island is technically part of New South Wales and lays 600 kilometres east of Port Macquarie (just north of Sydney). It has a permanent population of 360 people and allows a maximum of 400 tourists on the island at any one time. And why do tourists come here? Quite simply because of its stunning natural beauty! The island is a crescent shape with large hills at each end, and a narrow stretch of flat land between them; fringed with a beautiful golden sand beach and protected by the world’s southernmost coral reef which creates a lagoon-like marine sanctuary.
Walking and hiking is probably the most popular activity on the island. Walking up the hills at either end of the island offers absolutely stunning views back over the island, its golden sand beaches and coral reef. And while we’re talking about the coral reef, we best mention that diving and snorkelling is one of the other major attractions. The reef is teeming with fish of bright red, blue, yellow hues; and fear not, you will spot Nemo there too. The snorkelling is especially good for kids with the reef acting as a barrier against the waves and creating a perfectly safe swimming beach.
Being an island located so far away from anywhere else means you’ll encounter unique wildlife. The island is a haven for many birds, around 130 different species to be exact. There’s several rare birds that exist nowhere else on earth, the most popular of which is the inquisitive Woodhen which is very similar to our Weka. Another favourite is the Lord Howe Island Phasmid, a massive stick insect about as big as your hand. They were once thought to be extinct but researchers found a population of them living on an offshore islet that had one single bush on it! That bush was home to 80 of the insects and they’re now being brought back from the brink of extinction.
And what about human life? Most of the 360 residents work in the tourism, fishing, farming (kentia palms) or park ranger services. There’s about a dozen accommodations on the island which range from three star lead in, to the five star ultimate luxury resorts of Arajilla Retreat or Capella Lodge. The latter has stunning views and includes all your food, drinks and activities while on the island. There’s also half a dozen other restaurants and cafes if you want a change from the resort for a meal.
Getting to Lord Howe Island is easy with Qantas flying most days from Sydney, as well as weekly services from Brisbane and Port Macquarie. Of course as only 400 tourists are allowed on the island at any one time, flights and accommodation do all need to be organised in advance, and your House of Travel agent can organise all this.
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