Just paradise – Experience the ‘last’ paradise on earth for your honeymoon getaway

by Heather Marano.

Would you like to spend your honeymoon scuba diving, snorkelling, or enjoying some of Australia’s least crowded surf? Or do you picture starting married life in a luxury suite, escaping from the stresses of everyday life. Perhaps you want it all! Lord Howe Island is an idyllic destination that has the perfect balance of action, adventure, rest and relaxation.

Escape to a paradise of solitude

A pristine paradise where time stands still, Lord Howe Island has everything you need to celebrate your nuptials and begin your life together. There are no high-rise buildings, no traffic jams, no pollution and nothing to spoil the view.

There is no mobile phone service and wifi is limited, offering you the rarest of opportunities – to be unencumbered by technology and live completely in the moment. As Lord Howe Island is a world heritage listed site, only 400 tourists are allowed on the island at any one time allowing you to enjoy an intimate break with your new husband or wife. It’s also just a short two-hour flight from Sydney, so you don’t have to fly half way around the world to enjoy your romantic adventure.

Experience an adventure unlike any other

Thrill seeking couples should check out one of Lord Howe Island’s impressive peaks. Standing at 875 metres, Mt Gower is the island’s highest mountain and is rated as one of Australia’s best day walks. The hike is a challenging eight-hour return trek, complete with rope-assisted climbs and dizzying drops. But once you and your partner are standing atop Mt Gower’s iconic peak, amongst the misty forest, experiencing breathtaking views of the island and its crystal clear waters, you will truly feel on top of the world.

Newlyweds can also enjoy the wonderful waters and beaches of Lord Howe Island. At Ned’s beach you can hand feed fish and snorkel the calm waters above colourful coral. Use the masks, fins and snorkels stored there for the cost of a contribution to the ‘honesty box’.

For those who prefer to go a little deeper underwater, Lord Howe Island’s abundant marine life and crystal clear waters attract divers from around the world to explore some of the best diving on the planet. The underwater topography of trenches, caves and volcanic drop offs give an awe-inspiring, unforgettable diving experience for you and your other half.

Relax in style

Couples hoping to unwind and de-stress after planning the perfect wedding, will love the island’s luxury spas available in three of the island’s luxury lodges, where they can enjoy calm and serenity in an idyllic setting.

Lord Howe Island has a range of lodges, guesthouses and self-contained apartments, for those who want peace and privacy.

Lord Howe Island is an intimate, exclusive, romantic setting for you to enjoy your honeymoon. QantasLink offers year-round scheduled services to Lord Howe Island departing daily from Sydney and Brisbane on the weekends.

A seasonal weekly service to the Island is also available direct from Port Macquarie. There are connecting services with Qantas from all Australian capital cities and with QantasLink from many regional centres.

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to experience the last paradise on earth! For your chance to win 7 days and 7 nights on Lord Howe Island tell us in 25 words or less what paradise means to you. Visit www.lordhoweisland.info/competition to enter.

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Just you and nature – 5 unbelievable creatures you can only see in Australia’s very own Galapagos

by Heather Marano.

Imagine you’re on a majestic and isolated island, the remains of a nearly seven million year old extinct volcano, teeming with some of the world’s rarest, oddest and most spectacular wildlife. You’re not in the Galapagos. You’re in Australia’s vibrant Lord Howe Island.

For nature lovers, Lord Howe Island provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a variety of unique species found only on the island. These species have evolved over millions of years to adapt to their unique and isolated surroundings – as varied as sandy beaches, dense rainforests, a sheltered lagoon, mountains, valleys and sea cliffs – all within an area less than 15km2 and bound by the southernmost coral reef on the planet.

Here’s our list of the most incredible species you can only find in Australia’s very own Galapagos, Lord Howe Island.

1. Phasmid

Not many species can claim to have been brought back from the dead. Yet, this is the fascinating story of Lord Howe Island’s Phasmid, a large stick insect endemic to Lord Howe Island, recently rediscovered on Balls Pyramid after decades of presumed extinction.

The large insect known as the ‘land lobster’ roamed the island in great numbers for years until the population was eventually devastated by rodents and the species was declared extinct in 1960. Fast forward 40 years, and upon further exploration it was discovered that the Phasmid indeed still existed in extremely small numbers on the remote Balls Pyramid. Now the incredible insect is protected and part of a breeding program at Melbourne Zoo The population is growing and eventually will be released back onto Lord Howe Island.

The Phasmid joins 1,600 other terrestrial insect species recorded on the island, with approximately 60 per cent found nowhere else in the world.

2. Woodhen

The Lord Howe Island Woodhen is a large flightless bird, only found on Lord Howe Island. Many thousands of years ago the Woodhen’s ancestors flew across the Pacific Ocean, making Lord Howe Island their home. Thriving in a natural habitat plentiful in food and lacking in predators, their numbers grew. Over time their wings became redundant as they lost the need to fly.

In the 1800s, as sailors visited the island, bringing with them introduced species and also hunting the bird as game, the Woodhen’s population declined to near extinction. By the late 1970s, there were fewer than 30 Lord Howe Island Woodhens on the island confined to Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird.

Now listed as an endangered species, the Woodhen is protected and now flourishes on the island. Thanks to a rescue program which commenced in the 1980s, the population is now over 300.

3. Lord Howe Island Providence Petrel

From March each year, visitors to Lord Howe Island will be lucky enough to see tens of thousands of Lord Howe Island Providence Petrels descending on the island for the winter breeding season. Lord Howe Island is the only remaining breeding ground for the Lord Howe Island Providence Petrel in the world. The petrels are found on Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower, and witnessing their dramatic courtship flights and calls is a once in a lifetime experience.

The Lord Howe Island Providence Petrel is a large grey-brown bird with a wide wingspan of up to 105cm, making for a graceful sight when in the air. The species is classified as vulnerable due to its confined breeding areas and is protected.

4. Lord Howe Island White Eye

Lord Howe Island has over 170 sea and land bird species which visit or live on the island, and which visitors can enjoy when exploring the island’s many walking tracks. One of the most common is the Lord Howe Island White Eye (also known as the Lord Howe Island Silver Eye).

Endemic to the island, the bird is yellow-brown in colour with a white ring of feathers around its eyes. The small bird lives in the forests of Lord Howe Island and feeds on insects and fruit. The bird is one of 207 different bird species you can see on the island, 32 of which breed on the island.

5. Lord Howe Double-Header Wrasse

Boasting the southernmost coral reef on the planet and an extensive 25km² marine park, Lord Howe Island is host to thousands of marine species including tropical, subtropical and temperate fish species, 90 different coral species, starfish, worms, snails and sea urchins.

While it’s hard to choose just one species from such an abundant and diverse group, the Lord Howe Double-Header Wrasse is a standout.

The species is notable for its unique look and biology. It has a prominent bump on its head, giving it its name, is extremely large (about 80cm in length) and is blue-grey in colour.

Its strong teeth enable the species to crush the shells of its food, such as crabs, to access the soft tissue within. It then has a second set of pharangeal teeth which further grind the food. The hard tissue is released via the mouth and the soft tissue is digested.

The Lord Howe Double-Header Wrasse, like so many fish species in the area, only occurs in the subtropical waters of Lord Howe Island, Elizabeth Reef and Middleton Reef.

Lord Howe Island – Australia’s little piece of paradise rivaling the Galapagos – offers visitors the magical opportunity to become fully immersed in a spectacular and genuinely unique natural environment.

Experience Australia’s very own Galapagos – Just you and nature. For your chance to win 7 days and 7 nights on Lord Howe Island tell us in 25 words or less what paradise means to you. Visit www.lordhoweisland.info/competition to enter.

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Just you and the reef – 5 reasons to dive Australia’s pristine southern-most coral reef

by Heather Marano.

 

For divers looking for a once in a lifetime dive experience, diving Australia’s coral reefs is it.

Australia is host to some of the most untouched and abundant coral reefs in the world. UNESCO World Heritage listed Lord Howe Island enjoys the world’s southern-most coral reef, offering some truly incredible diving experiences.  

Here are our five reasons why you need to dive Lord Howe Island’s extraordinary coral reef now.

 

  1. Its unique geography makes Lord Howe Island an underwater playground

Lord Howe Island is a remnant of an extinct volcano which has created a truly unique geography.

Divers can choose from the west side of the island which enjoys an extensive barrier coral reef, a sheltered lagoon and a sandy beach or the east side of the island which enjoys fringing coral reefs immediately offshore of its beaches.

Lord Howe Island’s unique underwater topography of trenches, caves and volcanic drop-offs creates an underwater playground unlike any you’ll see anywhere else in the world.

The world’s tallest sea stack, Ball’s Pyramid, located 26km south of the island provides some of the best diving in the world.

  1. Lord Howe Island is host to abundant and vibrant marine life

Lord Howe Island is located at the crossroads of five major ocean currents, including the warm East Australian Current which runs down the Great Barrier Reef and into the Tasman Sea. Combine this with the island’s isolated location and you get a truly unique marine ecosystem around the coral reef. 

The reef exists within Lord Howe Island’s protected Marine Park and is subject to fishing restrictions, meaning that marine life is abundant. The reef is host to over 90 species of coral and 500 tropical, sub-tropical and temperate fish species, many of which are endemic to the island.

On a dive at Lord Howe Island you can see a number of incredible fish species including the Lord Howe Double-Header Wrasse, McCullochs Anemone fish, Violet Sweep, Amberjack, Kingfish, Silver Drummer, Rainbow Runners, Trevally and occasionally Marlin, Wahoo and Ballina Angelfish. Spanish Dancers and dolphins make for a colourful and vibrant underwater world. You can even dive with sharks – Galapagos whalers are a frequent and harmless visitor. A variety of species of turtle also inhabit the reef.

  1. Lord Howe Island’s crystal clear waters provide amazing visibility

Because of Lord Howe Island’s isolated location which is far offshore, the island enjoys some of the most crystal clear waters on earth.

Visibility is so good that those on glass bottom boats, swimmers, snorkelers and kayakers will have excellent visibility of the reef and its plentiful marine life. Visibility on a dive is up to an incredible 40m outside of the lagoon and up to 20m inside the lagoon.

For keen underwater photographers, there are countless opportunities to capture the many colourful and diverse fish species in these clear waters, with fish unafraid of humans and therefore easily approached.

  1. Over 60 world-class dive sites are at Australia’s doorstep

Access to Lord Howe Island’s amazing dive sites is only a 10-20 minute boat ride from shore, and there are over 60 world-class dive sites to choose from. Dive sites range from beginner to advanced and average 25m in depth. More advanced dives are available at Ball’s Pyramid and include drift dives and cave dives.

For Australians, this means we have some of the world’s best diving on our doorstep. Located only 500km from the North Coast of NSW, Lord Howe Island is a short and direct flight from Sydney, Brisbane or Port Macquarie – meaning you could be having a once in a lifetime diving experience within hours.

  1. Lord Howe Island’s coral reef is in pristine condition

Lord Howe Island is in a remote and protected location. Lord Howe Island has a truly pristine and untouched marine environment, with one of the most vibrant and colourful coral reefs in the world.

Experience a once in a lifetime dive experience at Lord Howe Island. For your chance to win 7 days and 7 nights on Lord Howe Island tell us in 25 words or less what paradise means to you. Visit www.lordhoweisland.info/competition to enter.

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Just paradise – 10 outdoor adventures just on your doorstep

by Heather Marano.

There’s simply nothing like that ‘on top of the world’ feeling when you experience a new adventure so exhilarating that you want it to last forever, but the question is where can you go to get a heart-stopping natural high that isn’t a million miles away?

The truth is Australia and our incredible islands are still virtually undiscovered by most and it’s here that we find a hidden gem full of once-in-a-lifetime outdoor adventures, Lord Howe Island.

On Lord Howe Island, natural ways to get your kicks are just run-of-the mill and the good news is you don’t have to leave the country.

Lord Howe Island is just two hours from Sydney, Port Macquarie or Brisbane but it’s a world away from the hectic city life on the mainland.

A world heritage listed island with only 350 residents and a 400 visitor cap at any one time – Lord Howe Island offers genuine solitude but with a daredevil spirit.

It’s hard to pick just 10 outdoor adventures to experience on Lord Howe Island, but we think we’ve cracked it:

1. Snorkel the pristine waters
Explore the southernmost coral reef with some of the best views of vibrant coral in Australia. Experience night snorkels if weather permits.

2. Hike to the summit of Mount Gower
Try one of Australia’s best rated ‘day hikes’ – climb to the summit of Mount Gower: an eight-hour round-trip to get an incredible view right across the Southern Pacific Ocean that is unrivalled…

3. Play with the turtles
Lord Howe Island is host to a population of turtles throughout September to May that follow the tropical current to the island. There are three turtle varieties; Green, Hawksbill and Logger Head. Spot them from a glass-bottomed boat or swim with them in the water; it’s up to you!

4. Dive the base of Ball’s Pyramid
Ball’s Pyramid is the tallest sea stack in the world. If you’re brave enough to dive to the depths beneath the water you may even see the most incredible sea life such as the island’s diverse fish species, sharks and stingrays.

5. Surf the winds
Kite surf with the pros in some of the best conditions in the country. Don’t forget your GoPro to catch the best of the action!

6. Glide on the calm water
Try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding in a protected crystal clear lagoon, good fun for beginners and pros alike!

7. Hike to Goat House Cave
It’s a four-hour return climb to the cave; ascend the steep hike for a majestic and rewarding view at the top. Spectacular views can also be found at the viewing platforms at neighbouring Intermediate Hill or Transit Hill.

8. Fish the Kings of Lord Howe
Lord Howe Island enjoys several fish species including the Lord Howe Double-Header Wrasse, Silver Drummers, Bluefish, Silver Trevally and Kingfish. If you don’t fancy heading out on a boat, you can even hand feed the fish from the beach. For a small gold coin contribution you can hand feed fish food to the fish while standing knee deep in the water.

9. Swim at a deserted beach
Swim at uncrowded beaches where you will likely not see another soul for hours.

10. Kayak to a unpopulated island
Take a guided kayak tour out to the offshore islands and explore the waters and wildlife on the islands

Your next outdoor adventure awaits you at Lord Howe Island. For your chance to win 7 days and 7 nights on Lord Howe Island tell us in 25 words or less what paradise means to you. Visit www.lordhoweisland.info/competition to enter.

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