Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lord Howe Island

As I mentioned previously we were loathe to leave Sydney and pretty clueless about what to expect of Lord Howe.   Our Quantas flight (LOVE Quantas) was a small prop plane and we had to shuffle the contents of our bags around to get under the 14 kilogram per person checked bag limit.  It turned out not to matter though as they had to take many of the bags off the flight to reduce the weight of the aircraft enough to ensure a safe landing on the short runway in wet conditions.  19 people off the flight didn’t receive their bags and Mark, Peyton and I were among them.   We weren’t sad though as we were provided really nice complimentary bags with T-shirts, shorts and toiletries, as well as a $100 per person credit at the local surf shop (for two days as it turned out because the second day the flight was canceled due to stormy weather.)  We are so terribly sick of each and every clothing item in our possession that new ones (for free no less) made us soooo happy!

The best way to tell you about Lord Howe is that it reminds us (Mark and I anyway) of Fantasy Island – without all the hocus pocus of course.   The island is just 11 kilometers long and about 2 kilometers wide.  There are less than 400 permanent residents and a limit of about the same number of visitors at any one time.  32 kids attend the local elementary school; they wear uniforms to classes but aren’t required to wear shoes.  Every time someone passes you on the road they wave.

Our accommodation turned out to be a great one bedroom duplex with a full kitchen and nice covered deck just 100 yards from a pristine and practically deserted beach.  On our first evening, after visiting the surf shop and local grocery, we had Kraft Macaroni and cheese for dinner – both economical and thrilling as we hadn’t seen any since leaving home in August of last year.

The closest beach to our place was called Old Settlement.  It is known for the turtles that are always there swimming in the shallows. They like to whack your feet with their flippers.

About a 20 minute walk over to the other side of the island is Ned’s beach.  This is the only beach on the island where fishing is illegal.  That’s because the fish are all “tame” as they are used to being hand fed stale bread.  We didn’t find them so terribly tame as, if you weren’t careful, they would mistake your hand for a piece of bread.  But it made for very fun swimming/snorkeling.

About an hour hiking (all up hill) from our little house takes you to Kim’s outlook from which you could see the entire south side of the island – worth the work.

One day we rented bikes, road around the island to the only beach with real waves.   On the way back we watched the plane land.

Another day I took a four hour hike around the island.

Lord Howe is very a beautiful, pristine and well manicured paradise, but there wasn't a whole heck of lot to do there for two whole weeks.  In addition to the limited square footage of the island, it rained/stormed a whole bunch.  We cooked and hiked and swam and worked on our plans to get home.   We also bickered as we suffered from cabin fever.

One storm took out this tree on our road

I know I will look back at this part of the trip and wish we had enjoyed this little piece of heaven on earth more.  You know you have been traveling too long when you fail to truly appreciate paradise.

I'm happy to report however that we have finally booked our tickets home!  In the end we were able to use frequent flyer miles we collected on American Airlines from their partners we flew on our trip.  We will depart out of Santiago, Chile on April 19th and fly to Miami.  From there Mark and Wilder will head to Tennessee to pick up a truck Mark bought (online) and drive it cross country, visiting a few relatives and maybe a college or two on the way home.  Peyton and I will connect through Dallas for a night and then arrive in Phoenix on the 21st, just in time for my niece Lauren's birthday.  Our plan is to stay with my parents there and wait for the boys so that we can all drive into Los Angeles together on or, hopefully before, May 1st.

We have little of our long trip left now - we head next to New Zealand for a couple of weeks and then to Chile and Easter Island for a total of 10 days.  To say we are excited would be a major understatement.  We are all feeling really ready to be home.  9 months, it turns out, is a very long time to be away.


  1. Hi Carrie

    I've been reading your blog for a while because me and my wife will embark on a similar trip in a few month time although not to the same scale. Ours will be smaller.

    I'm going through this panic attack period. Too many things to worry about. My immediate question would be what's your recommendation for things to pack and size of the backpack. I know you've covered in your blog but I don't know whether it turned out to be a good choice or not.

    Also, did you take laptops or netbooks for storing photos, what do you do with the photos?

    Please advise. Thanks. Enjoy your trip.


    1. Hi! I'm not about size but my pack weighed about 11 kg fully loaded - my husband's was more like 17, but his was one that had wheels and also could be carried backpack style. We were both happy with our packs. I care more about keeping weight down than he does. So I would say it depends upon your style. My biggest advice is not to worry about taking everything you will need with you. You can easily buy things along the way.

      Best of luck to you and happy traveling!

  2. I have read your entire blog now and I can tell you've become road weary. Please know, though, that those of us who are home, daydreaming about the chance to do something like this, are BRIMMING OVER with glee at all the truly amazing things you've seen and experienced.

    I hope you'll be renewed and refreshed as you experience New Zealand and Easter Island!

    Have a wonderful and safe journey home.

    1. Thank you Emily for your encouragement! While we are definately road weary, we are still in good spirits as we log our last days of this amazing trip.