Starting over on Lord Howe
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: [email protected]tralian.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.