Hiking to Kim’s Lookout and Malabar

The hike to Kim’s Lookout and along the high ridges to Malabar on Lord Howe’s northern end departs from the carpark near Old Settlement Beach or from the track near Ned’s Beach and usually takes around 2 hours for the 2 km walk. It’s a medium grade walk, suitable for families with active kids, couples and people with a moderate to good level of fitness. It’s a great walk to take at any time of day but as this photo shows it is  especially pretty in the morning when the sun rises over Ned’s Beach. 

Sarah Jordan, Lord Howe’s Tourism Officer sets off:

With our bags packed with snacks and water we head off on our bikes to Old Settlement beach, we decide to walk along the track that runs alongside the fence rather than along the beach to avoid getting sand in our boots. First up, we brush our boots in the phythophera boot scrub station to prevent the spread of disease and weeds in the permanent park preserve. We head off across the bridge and alongside the paddock. It’s hard to imagine what life was like here for the early settlers; we think about their huts with roofs made of thatch palm and cooking by an open fire. 

Long stairs along the path make the transition from open beachscapes into the forest where palm trees hang overhead. We stop and look back the way we have come; even after walking up a slight incline we are rewarded with a spectacular scene looking back over the lagoon with Mounts Gower and Lidgbird perfectly framed in our view.

Soon we are deep in the forest, and we notice different types of palm trees and watch the pandanus spreading their long limbs and roots.The stairs make the ascent easier and we marvel at the way they have been made, working with nature. The stairs wind up and around the trees, which act as a support for climbing and a place to lean on to have a rest. The path gets steeper and we are glad when we make it to a very well positioned chair. We sit down and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.  After a few minutes we decide it is time to progress, up and up we go. Surely the turn off to Kim’s is somewhere around here? We reach the T junction and turn right. Soon we are walking along the ridgeline, and what a satisfying feeling that is. The climb continues and within about 15 minutes we are rewarded with breathtaking views out towards North Bay and Mt Eliza. We can see the pebbly beach of Old Gulch and back towards the mountains over the lagoon. And finally, we reach Kim’s Lookout.

After a drink and a snack, we are refreshed and ready to trek over to Malabar. Walking along the ridge line we are often dazzled by the blueness of the water and sky. Seeing the expansive blue from this vantage point reminds us that we’re quite literally in the middle of the sea. We see red-tailed tropic birds soaring and spiralling using the upward wind gusts generated by the steep cliffs. The track heads down slightly and we’re grateful for the change in motion, but alas this does not last long, as soon we are navigating rocks and tree roots and heading upwards towards Malabar. We make it, and take a well-deserved break near the cliff’s edge, sitting to catch our breath and take in the panoramic views of the turquoise ocean. We spy a small, sandy beach below us, and wonder what it would feel like to be sitting down there, on a beach all to ourselves. In fact, it’s quite a common – and lucky – feeling to have on Lord Howe Island, to feel although you are the only person in the world. Malabar is also the best place to see the Admiralty Islands, a small cluster of islands just to the northeast

It’s time to head down and soon we are back in the forest walking downstairs, before we come to a steep section where we use the trees to help us get down safely. We arrive at a rocky outcrop and the path seems to disappear, we make our way across and pause to admire the view of Ned’s Beach. We can see why Ned’s beach was named one of the cleanest beaches in Australia!   

The ocean below is calling us for a swim! It’s a perfect day with a light breeze and just a few clouds in the sky, and we plan to go the Ned’s Beach boathouse where there’s an honesty box allowing hire of snorkel gear and body boards. We can’t wait to dive into that perfectly clear, clean water. Our early morning departure means that as we head down Malabar ridge the sun is climbing in the sky and so is the temperature. 

Soon we are crossing the stile that borders the park preserve and heading through the cow paddocks that fringe it towards the cool blue water at Ned’s Beach. Within a few minutes we are in our bathers and sorting through snorkel gear to find the perfect fit. We rush across the white sand, past the kingfish and wrasse in the shallows waiting to be fed and plunge into the crystal-clear water. We float on our back for a few moments and look up at Malabar towering above us, birds circling above. We take a moment and we’re quietly impressed with our own adventure.