Sunday 11th Oct 2020
In the morning, we walked to Wilsons Hire to rent some bicycles, bumped into some more woodhens on the road then cycled to Old Settlement and walked to North Bay with our freediving gear and a picnic and we chilled at the beach with no other beings around than just the nesting terns and brown noddies.
We freedived to the shipwreck parts of the Favourite, a tuna boat which dragged anchor at night in 1965 and ended up on the north side of North Passage. The vessel was burnt to avoid planks washing into the lagoon and posing a hazard to the flying boats. Pieces of the metal structure washed into the lagoon and the engine is still visible on the reef.
It was quite tricky as it was low tide when we were there so very shallow and we had to be really careful to not touch the coral that lay under us within 1 meter.
Then we headed back and stopped at Old Settlement beach where a turtle was hanging around in the shallow with which Silvia hanged out.
Then we cycled to Blinky Beach to check this beach out. Blinky Beach was named after Captain Blinkenthorpe: The vessel that carried the first settlers to Lord Howe Island in June 1834 sailed from the port of Russell, the capital of New Zealand at that time. The barque Caroline, commanded by Captain John Blinkenthorpe, landed three Englishmen at Ross Bay on the eastern side of the island. The name of the bay was changed to Blinkenthorpe to reflect this landing, and is known today as Blinky Beach.
The beach was too windy and the water too choppy to make us want to freedive there so we just hanged around and enjoyed looking at the terns flying in the wind and just danced in the wind with them.
Afterwards, we headed towards a small beach past Lovers Bay, near the Capella lodge where we started gearing up to get in the water but again, it didn’t really look inviting and we changed our mind and headed back, showered, grabbed what to make a picnic and went to Signal Point with our neighbours Margaret and Andy to enjoy the sunset. I then tried to do some night photography, with mixed results.
Monday 12th October 2020
We started the day with a double scuba dive with ProDive. On our first dive, the highlights were a massive black rock cod and three kingfish as well as a dozen of Galapagos sharks and heaps of jellyfish eggs.
On the second dive, we saw beautiful rock formations and various types of fish, silver drummers, batfish, sweetlips. We also saw a beautiful nudibranch called bordered roboastra.
We came back after the dives and had some lunch then headed to our favourite beach, Ned’s Beach.
We were lucky to freedive with the turtles and Galapagos sharks again, although we couldn’t freedive deep as we still had the Nitrogen bubbles in our blood from the scuba dives.
Then we went back and grabbed things to go picnic again at Signal Point. We arrived just after the sun had set but could still enjoy the beautiful twilight.
Later on, I did a 25-min long exposure night shot which turned out quite well for once.
It was nice to celebrate the last night on the island like this.
Tuesday 13th October 2020
We went back to Wilsons Hire to drop the bicycles and then went for one last freedive at Ned’s Beach. No turtles and no sharks this time, but it was still awesome to admire the incredibly beautiful and pristine coral reef and enjoy the 20-degree water and amazing visibility, one last time. It was hard to leave!
After that, we let our stuff to dry a bit and then packed. Rebecca, the property manager of Somerset drove us to the airport where we waited, embarked and headed back to Sydney.
And here it is for a small introduction to Lord Howe Island.
As usual, I wish I had more time! I would have liked to spend even more time freediving at Ned’s beach with the turtles and the Galapagos sharks, and also go climb to the summit of Mt Gower at 875m. It is supposed to be a very pretty hike to the summit. I would have loved to scuba dive near Ball’s Pyramid also and go on a boat check the Admiralty Islands from closer. I would also have enjoyed spending time with the locals, getting to know directly from them how it is to live on such a remote island, hearing their stories, especially the ones from people who have lived on the island for generations. Oh well, one day maybe, another time.
I was really happy that we still managed to stay 6 days though as there was so much to do and so much to see. It is an incredibly beautiful island, full of anecdotes and history with a very rich biodiversity, underwater as well as on land. The fact that it only allows 400 visitors at any one time makes it very special as it is so enjoyable to enjoy beaches just for yourself, especially quite special beaches like these, with the southern most coral reef, and a reef which is still intact, what a rare thing nowadays.
If you ever get the chance to go, do it. Please make sure you bring reef safe sunscreen as normal sunscreen destroys the reef, so do your bit to protect this reef.
I hope to have the chance to go again one day. Bye now! 🙂