Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Lord Howe Island is a little crescent shaped volcanic residue, 10 km by 2 km, sitting off the coast from Port Macquarie, 700 Km north east of Sydney. The 2 hour flight is a journey to another time. Everything you have, or haven’t, heard about it is true.

The island was discovered, uncharted and uninhabited, one month (February 1788) after the settlement of Sydney Cove, by HMAS Supply en route to Norfolk Island under the command of Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball. Cook had charted and noted Norfolk as valuable to a new colony for its timber and flax and for its agricultural potential. Ball named the island after the then first lord of the Admirality. His name is given to one of the island's two mountains, Mount Lidgbird (aka ‘Lidgy’ in the unique Australian way of combining affection and a little gentle disrespect), and also the staggering Balls pyramid, a mighty singularity, a Lord-of the-Rings granite outcrop spiking 760m from the sea 20 Km to the south east.

Ball's pyramid wisped in cloud from boat off island south

The island is bathed in the warm East Australian Current, sweeping south then curling east around it, warming the milder Tasman seas to no lower than 17 degrees such that it supports some of the most southern coral in the Pacific. This little jewel of marine life, subtropical forests and stunning birds and fauna was World Heritage listed in 1982 when Neville Wran was the premier. It is also the world source of the live-almost-anywhere Kentia Palm, which swept its way through the parlours of the Northern Hemisphere, and remains, with tourism, one of the economic mainstays.

The crucible of the island crescent is protected by a line of coral reef, like a string to its bow, breaking the seas and cradling a turquoise lagoon. It was here the sea planes landed, by the tides, until a land runway was built in 1974.

looking south over the lagoon from Malabar ridge

Some people mark turning 60 by the usual city affairs, a party, a come-as-a-S party (my sister did this – I hate dress-up parties and went as a Sheep having been threatened with eviction if I carried out my promise to come in a Sorry-t-shirt). But not Jy. She chose to gather her family and friends for something more meaningful, the celebration of her life so far as seen through the togetherness of those she loves most.

We 27 came from Sydney, London, Pittsburgh, Wagga Wagga (it’s so nice they named it twice), Coff’s Harbour, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and Tennant Creek and we stayed together for six days. Breakfast together, planning the days walking, mountain climbing, snorkelling, kayaking, boat trips, bird watching, fish feeding, lunch at the resort or delivered to some distant beach, lazy afternoons, naps, tennis, cycling, naps, reading, naps, drinks at sunset on the beach, noisy dinners, singing and jokes, then bed by 9.30 among the Kentia palms in an uncommon stillness to be woken by the scratching of Woodhens.

K said it was remarkable how you weren’t aware of the constant mainland static until you left it behind, really behind.

K's meditation spot

It was all very very Jy. Happy Birthday you lovely creature of the wild.

Jy putting toe in water, something Jy very good at

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