Lord Howe Island – Day 2

Friday 9th October 2020

We woke up, had brekky and went for a hike on the nearby hills. The weather was beautiful, not too hot, a bit cloudy but not rainy, not too windy either, perfect conditions. In blue is where we went that day, first to Malabar lookout then to Kim’s lookout then to North Bay. Later on we went freediving at Lagoon’s beach.

All stories below are extracted from this document: https://www.anps.org.au/upload/ANPS%20Placenames%20Report%203.pdf

The Malabar hill holds its name from the following story: On September 8, 1881, four malabar Indians were taken to the island to gather the guano. One of them, Hielavapa, on December 10, 1881 went goat hunting with one of the boys of the island, and whilst near the summit of North Peak, 714 feet (217m) above sea level, endeavouring to secure some of the beautiful tail feathers from the ‘Bosun’ birds nesting on the sides of the cliff, he missed his footing and fell to the rocks beneath. Since that accident happened the peak has been known as the Malabar.

Kim’s lookout story remains quite mysterious as I couldn’t find what accident exactly caused his death but according to the locals, he didn’t die from falling from the cliff so what accident was that then? The mystery remains. The prominence bears a plaque in memory of Victor Kim Morris (son of Richard and Monnie, née Austic), a young resident of Lord Howe Island who died in an accident in 1967 aged 20 and who spent much of his leisure time roaming these northern hills. The hill, previously referred to as Poole’s Lookout, was renamed in his honour.

The previous name of Kim’s Lookout was Poole’s Lookout named after Captain Owen Pool, here is another story which is also the story of the Old Settlement beach: Ashdown, Bishop, Chapman and their three Maori wives and 2 Maori boys were the first settlers and stayed at Lord Howe Island from 1834 until 1841, when they were bought out by Captain Owen Poole, a retired officer of the Bombay Establishment, and Richard Dawson, the first important ironfounder of Sydney who saw the island’s whaling potential as a whaling port. A site almost immediately to the north of and overlooking Old Settlement, was named Pooles Lookout.

Here are some photos of our hike to Kim’s lookout. In the distance we can see Ned’s Beach and the Admiralty Islands.

From Kim’s lookout, we went down hill to a beach called Old Gulch where there was heaps of fossilised coral and a brown noddy just resting on a rock.

From the Old Gutch, we walked to North Bay. There were sooty terns making nests on the path, as it was terns breeding season. Their eggs will hatch in 28-30 days and the chicks will be independent after 2 months. The population of sooty terns is estimated to 21-22 million birds, making it one of the least concerned. What is fascinating about them is that they spend their time flying at sea without ever landing as their feathers are not water repellent. They are said to take 1-2 secs naps while flying. They are highly pelagic birds and can stay in flight for 10 years.They only come back to land to breed. More info here:

To access the beach, we had to walk with extreme care and slowly to not walk on their eggs. Then we walked to Old Settlement Beach, where the first three settlers arrived with their Maori wives and two Maori boys and lived there between 1834 and 1841 before Captain Poole took over. We then walked to the jetty from which we could see the pristine turquoise water and saw the afternoon QantasLink flight about to land. Then we walked back to Somerset. Here are some photos of the rest of the hike:

We picked up our freediving gear and headed to the lagoon. The water was really shallow and at first the landscape seemed pretty bare with a lot of sand more than anything, but we finned all the way to the small islet in the lagoon. We ended up seeing quite a lot of things including the famous iconic heart urchin strolling slowly on the sea floor.

We came back to Somerset, had a shower, dropped the gear and walked down to the lagoon. On our way, we got acquainted with Barry, the friendly bull of the island. Friendly but still intimidating as we can see on that picture, the tennis players were not too sure whether they should get out that way or not. Lucky there was another door for them to exit the court. 🙂

We came back and went to Ned’s beach at dusk to just sit down and chill. It was quite a show to view all the mutton birds coming back from their day of fishing and landing on the beach. There are various species of sheer-water birds that are called mutton birds. These ones are the flesh-footed shearwater birds. I had seen the short-tailed shearwater bird (also called mutton bird) in Fraser Island a few years ago at a time where thousands of them were coming back from Japan exhausted and dying on the beach.

The flesh-footed shearwater bird faces another threat on Lord Howe Island, probably as much as other sea birds now. Here 100% of the shearwater chicks contain plastic they’ve been fed by their parents, foraging in the South Pacific. This was a fact we learnt in June 2017 during the Sydney Film Festival when Blue was screened and we could follow Dr Jennifer Lavers, marine eco-toxicologist, while she monitored the sea bird colonies. More info about the Ocean Guardians featured in Blue here:

If you haven’t seen this documentary, I highly recommend it.

During the breeding seasons, what we noticed there was that mutton birds were very noisy at night, constantly calling each other. It created a very strange atmosphere and the sounds they made was hard to describe, like if hundreds of babies were crying at the same time non-stop or like if you were lost in the Blair Witch Project movie.

Next day, off to Goat’s cave!

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