LORD HOWE ISLAND
AG Society Scientif ic Expedition 2018
Participant Fiona Ruck reflects on the 2017
AGS Scientific Expedition to Lord Howe Island.
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IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE that such a beautiful and pristine place as Lord Howe
Island exists nowadays; it’s like going back in time.
I was here on an AG Society
Scientific Expedition to look for new species of insects
– flies and spider wasps in particular. Everything on the island goes slower, including the ‘traffic’; most people opt for a bike. The few cars here have a speed limit of 25km/h. The ‘rush minute’, as the locals call it, occurs at about 3pm on weekdays when the schoolchildren (all 30 or so of them) leave school barefoot and head home. The ‘CBD’ consists of a couple of shops, a restaurant and a museum.
This island is a wonderful escape from all the busyness of city life – the emails and phone calls. I was very fortunate to stay at Pinetrees Lodge where Dani and Luke Hanson do a fantastic job of making each and every guest feel at home. There’s no wi-fi or mobile phone connection, only a communal landline. Local calls are free and a card is available for calls to the ‘mainland’, so it was truly refreshing to communicate with others without the aid of a smartphone. Everywhere people would greet one another and share stories. Many had been here several times and, having loved it so much, they c came back time and again.
There are about 300 r residents on the island and only 400 visitors are allowed at any one time – so n nowhere ever feels crowded.
On my first day I wandered along the Lagoon Road, and came across a few species of bird, so, as a nature p photographer, I was in my el element! One was a white tern. Th They’re interesting because th they lay their eggs directly on the branches of the pine trees here without building a nest. I also encountered a colourful buff-banded rail with her tiny black chicks in tow, pecking at the grass.
In the trees I heard the song of the Lord Howe golden whistler – a pretty yellow-coloured bird. I walked to Middle Beach where I saw hundreds of sooty terns flying directly overhead – and was glad I had my hat on! I was told there are colourful crabs on this beach that, when tickled, will squirt water: lots of fun for children.
‘Golden Hour’ approached and the sun was setting, so I headed for the boat shed on the beach that belongs to Pinetrees Lodge. It’s a relaxing place to sit and watch the sun disappear on the horizon.
The next day, the rest of the group arrived. What a great bunch of people! Everybody was very friendly and ready to have fun. We spent