Start­ing over on Lord Howe

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - FIONA BURMAN CASTLECRAG, NSW

In 2003 we moved from Port Stephens on the NSW mid­north coast to Syd­ney. We soon missed blue wa­ters, traf­fic-free roads and bush­walk­ing. We both had busy jobs and wanted a break. With lim­ited time off, we dragged out a map and saw Lord Howe Is­land, not too far off the NSW coast. It looked a good choice and we were right.

Now it’s Christ­mas Eve 2016, and the first of our grand­chil­dren, Tim, is turn­ing 13. Our plan is to take each of them soon af­ter they en­ter their teens on a short, rel­a­tively tech­nol­ogy-free hol­i­day. It’s an age when it will prob­a­bly still be OK to be seen with grand­par­ents. Would Lord Howe Is­land again fit the bill?

Back in 2003, we climbed Mount Gower and thought we knew what to ex­pect. We re­mem­bered an airy tra­verse along a cliff face. We sent Tim YouTube links to the walk. His email came back, “When do we go?”

His mother was less en­thu­si­as­tic, so we wrote to the guide, “We are a bit con­cerned about the safety of our 13year-old grand­son.” His an­swer? “You stay be­hind — he comes with me.” Our mis­giv­ings so con­vinc­ingly ad­dressed, a book­ing was made. Af­ter all, we would be there to look af­ter Tim.

The day dawned with mist hang­ing over Mount Gower. Not far into the walk, ropes turned it into a steep up­hill clam­ber. We had not re­called any ropes. Sud­denly it was not whether Tim would be OK; it was whether we would be. And that airy tra­verse? No prob­lem for Tim but still ter­ri­fy­ing to us. Half­way up the moun­tain it rained, and we wor­ried about a slip­pery trip down­hill.

But we made it to the top, the rain cleared and sun­shine gave us a pic­ture-per­fect view back over the is­land with its beau­ti­ful beaches, coral reefs and crys­tal-clear wa­ters. Ball’s Pyra­mid, a dra­matic vol­cano rem­nant, was vis­i­ble in the dis­tance off­shore as we slipped down­hill.

We had an­other four days to go be­fore fly­ing out. Mus­cles we didn’t know we had be­fore the moun­tain trek protested as we grabbed bikes and rode all over the is­land, swam in the warm wa­ters, jumped off the pier, snorkelled, walked, kayaked, and ate ice cream of­ten from Thomp­son’s Store. For five glo­ri­ous days we lived on Lord Howe Is­land and kept up with Tim ... just. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion with your name and postal ad­dress to: travel@theaus­tralian.com.au. Colum­nists will re­ceive a hard­back copy of New Zealand Wine by War­ren Mo­ran, a guide to key wine­mak­ers and wine re­gions; $75. More: hardiegrant.com.au.

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