JOIN MOTHER NA­TURE’S VIP LIST

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - WHEN TO BOOK LORD HOWE ISLAND - CE­LESTE MITCHELL LORDHOWEISLAND.INFO

Alit­tle-known is­land off Aus­tralia’s east coast that is only ac­cessed by air and was once de­scribed by Sir David At­ten­bor­ough as “so ex­tra­or­di­nary, it is al­most un­be­liev­able” con­jures im­ages of a mag­i­cal Juras­sic land­scape. Here, the twin peaks of Mt Lidg­bird and Mt Gower pre­side over a 6km la­goon and the world’s most southerly coral reef.

Al­most half of the is­land’s na­tive plants are found nowhere else on Earth. In the air, hun­dreds of thou­sands of seabirds flock to nest on this pro­tected par­adise each year. And adding to Lord Howe Is­land’s al­lure is the fact it is only open to 400 lucky guests at once.

This is Mother Na­ture’s VIP list, but ac­cess­ing it is easy – it’s less than a two-hour flight from Bris­bane or Syd­ney.

Lord Howe Is­land Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive officer Trina Shep­herd says: “A lot of peo­ple don’t know this part of Aus­tralia and that it’s World Her­itage listed.

“Ev­ery time I go, I am just ab­so­lutely blown away by the scenery ... it’s some­where you’ll never get tired of the view, even if you’re just sit­ting and look­ing out with a glass of wine.”

WHY VISIT

Given its to­pog­ra­phy and the fact two-thirds of of the is­land is pro­tected park re­serve, its not sur­pris­ing that lord Howe is rid­dle with wailk­ing tracks, but ine hike in par­tic­u­lar has shone an even brighter spotlight ib is­land of late

The chal­leng­ing Seven Peaks Walk was wel­comed into the Great Walks of Aus­tralia port­fo­lio this year with guided his run­ning in au­tumn (April to May) and spring (Septem­ber to Novem­ber).

But you don’t have to be a hiker or twitcher to en­joy a stay on Lord Howe. With a va­ri­ety of ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions – from fam­i­lyfriendly apart­ments to Pine­trees Lodge, rated the best ho­tel in Aus­tralia, ac­cord­ing to the TripAd­vi­sor Trav­eller’s Choice Awards – Shep­herd says visi­tors from all walks of life love this idyl­lic isle.

“A lot of peo­ple go there whose par­ents used to go there when they were lit­tle, and whose grand­par­ents went there,” she says. “It’s got a spe­cial place in the heart of fam­i­lies.”

The is­land sings out to snorkellers and divers, pho­tog­ra­phers and hon­ey­moon­ers, while kitesurf­ing is a re­cent ad­di­tion to the tran­quil scene.

WHEN TO VISIT

“For most of the year, the is­land is at ca­pac­ity, be­lieve it or not, with the ex­cep­tion of the win­ter pe­riod,” Shep­herd says.

“But even win­ter is be­com­ing more pop­u­lar be­cause the cli­mate is quite mild and the sur­rounds are just so beau­ti­ful for ex­plor­ing and hik­ing any­way.

“If you’re look­ing for a par­tic­u­lar ac­tiv­ity like kitesurf­ing or kayak­ing, it’s best to travel out­side the win­ter pe­riod, and also check that the ac­tiv­ity you’re seek­ing to do is ac­tu­ally op­er­at­ing. Con­tact the Vis­i­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre or go on to the web­site and check it out.”

WHEN TO BOOK

Much like try­ing to score tick­ets to an Adele con­cert, you need to plan ahead. If you in­tend to visit in the peak sea­son – be­tween mid-De­cem­ber and the end of March – it’s rec­om­mended that you book eight to 12 months in ad­vance.

For the shoul­der sea­son, run­ning from Oc­to­ber to mid-De­cem­ber and April to mid-May, four to six months ahead should be fine. Be­tween mid-May to Septem­ber, Shep­herd says: “If you have no pref­er­ence on ac­com­mo­da­tion, then it’s not nec­es­sary to book in ad­vance.”

PIC­TURE: LUKE HAN­SON

Take the chal­leng­ing Seven Peaks Walk on Lord Howe Is­land to ex­pe­ri­ence the mag­nif­i­cent scenery.

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