There are very few places in the world without high-rise buildings, mobile phone coverage, ATMs, where cars must not drive over 25km/m and just 400 tourists are allowed at any one time. Sound too good to be true?
Well, Kelly Landry found all that and more on Lord Howe Island, 600km east of Sydney, and knew immediately why it became a World Heritage site in 1982. Just 10km long and 2km wide, it is a place of true beauty and biodiversity with a unique range of wildlife.
The crescent of the island protects a coral reef and lagoon and the seamount chain extends north for 1000km. The basalt Mt Lidgbird rises 777m and Mt Gower 875m. They are the result of lava flows which occurred 6.4 million years ago. Ball's Pyramid, 23km south of Lord Howe, is the world's tallest volcanic stack.
This protected marine reserve is one of Lord Howe's secret treasures. It was voted Australia's Cleanest Beach in 2005, and is where you can enjoy marine life by reef walking, beachcombing, snorkelling or feeding the fish. Take along some stale bread crumbs, wade in up to your knees and you will be instantly surrounded by a feeding frenzy.
As if by magic, hundreds of hungry fish appear the second the crumbs break the surface. Metre-long kingfish, coloured wrasse, parrot fish and trevally will swam around your ankles. Beware though, they might give you a bit of a nip!
Take a pair of old sneakers with you and enjoy the most fascinating walk around the rocky seashore. Biologist Ian Hutton runs Lord Howe Island Nature Tours and in two hours you will know more about the secret lives of marine creatures and plants than you thought possible. Just two minutes from shore you will explore pools, a rock ledge and Ian will pull marine creatures from the water and tell you about them.
Sea urchins, sea cucumbers, sea slugs, starfish, snails, brittle stars and little crabs are gently removed from their hiding places in green weed as Ian tells you all about the way they live and survive. He has written 10 books about Lord Howe and in 2006 was awarded an Order of Australia medal for his services to conservation and tourism.
A little further off shore is a world-class scuba site. The water is so clean and clear it's like swimming in an aquarium. Adventurers love bushwalks, all sorts of hikes or you can just laze on a beach.
So, with all this beauty and history to explore, you need somewhere to stay.
The most exclusive address on the island, Capella Lodge, has the best views of Mt Gower. It's recently had a $1 million makeover. It is beach-chic with white-washed walls and timber shutters.
The Lidgbird Pavilion now has a second level with wraparound verandahs, plunge pool and bathing area. It's the ultimate retreat. You can dine on your private deck, have canapés delivered at sunset or cruise around on Capella's electric buggy.
The new Makambo loft is a two level-loft suite which has postcard views of Lord Howe's iconic twin peaks. It has fun furnishings from Mambo artist Bruce Gold as well as a plunge spa and extended verandahs.
All up there are nine contemporary suites. They are spacious, light-filled with timber floors and custom furniture pieces. They all have king beds made up with superior cotton linens. Beach towels, robes and backpacks are provided.
The restaurant is for guests only and expect to dine on local fish, regional seafood, farmed meats, homemade pasta, daily baked breads and churned ice cream.
Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea, less than two hours flying time from Sydney.
Capella Suites start at $650 per person a night, twin share. Capella Family costs $650 per person a night twin share, $450 for each extra adult a night and $250 for a child a night. Lagoon Loft is $750 a night per person twin share. Makambo Loft is $950 per person a night twin share and Lidgbird Pavilion is $1150 per person a night twin share.
Rates at Capella include gourmet breakfast, sunset drinks and canapés, three-course dinner with selected wines and non-alcoholic beverages. The restaurant is now reserved exclusively for the enjoyment of our in-house guests.
For further information
Lord Howe Island Nature Tours
PO Box 157
Lord Howe Island 2898
Lord Howe Island 2898
Ph: (02) 9918 4355
Lord Howe Island Visitor Centre
Lord Howe Island 2898
Ph: 1800 240 937 or (02) 6563 2114
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