AG So­ci­ety Sci­en­tif ic Ex­pe­di­tion 2018

Australian Geographic - - Expedition Diary -

Par­tic­i­pant Fiona Ruck re­flects on the 2017

AGS Sci­en­tific Ex­pe­di­tion to Lord Howe Is­land.

Book now for the

2018 trip.

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

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