Lord Howe Island – Under the Canopy

Despite the presence of settlers for almost 190 years, the island still retains much of its original vegetation. That vegetation is in the form of subtropical rainforest. With the impressive landforms of Mounts Lidgbird and Gower (the remnants of a 7 million year old volcano) that drop off right into the ocean, the landscape is very Jurassic Park– like.

Under Mount Gower
Little Island Track.
Under Mount Gower
Under Mount Gower
Under the Canopy

You can see the presence of Kentia palms everywhere in the rainforest. These palms are commonly found as indoor plants everywhere around the world from back in the 19th Century.

Under the Canopy

Aside from these palms, there is also a variety of strangler vines and multi-coloured fungi.

Strangler Figs
Forest fungi

All of this is a short stroll from civilisation – and with the both easy and challenging tracks about, and the lack of stinging insects, it means that this rainforest is just about perfect (for me anyway)!

Lord Howe Island – Pine Trees and Birds

The most iconic tree on Lord Howe Island isn’t a native at all, but an introduced species – the Norfolk Island Pine. Some sailors thought it would be good wood for ship building – and found out too late that it wasn’t.

The Boathouse
The Boathouse, Lord Howe Island.
Lord Howe Island Trees
The Pine Trees Lodge, Lord Howe Island.

There are lots of trees on the island, and lots of birds that make their home there. Some birds are frequent visitors, like the sooty tern.

Sooty tern
Sooty tern, Lord Howe Island.

Others are native flightless birds like the buff-banded rail.

Lord Howe Island Buff Banded Rail
Buff-banded rail, Lord Howe Island.

This beautiful green dove.

Emerald Ground Dove
Emerald Ground Dove, Lord Howe Island.

And the most beloved bird on the island, the Woodhen.

Woodhen
Adult woodhen, Lord Howe Island.

With no native land-based predators, the flightless birds just took over the island – until the rats came. Just 10 years ago, the woodhen was endangered as the island was over-run by rats. The island embarked on an ambitious rat-eradication program, which was successful, and now the birds are flourishing. We even saw a few chicks running around.

Woodhens
Woodhen chicks, Lord Howe Island.

An introduction to Lord Howe Island

Yes, yet another visitor to this place. For those who don’t know anything about the island, this speck in the Pacific Ocean is tiny – 10km by 2km. It is 800km north-east of Sydney and consists of 800 permanent residents and (up to) 800 tourists. Flying in is an experience.

Is the effort worth it? Well, you be the judge.

View from Lord Howe Island Lagoon
Afternoon view from Lagoon Beach.

Hobart

Well, it might have taken me awhile, but we’ve finally come to the final chapter of our 2019 Tasmanian trip – a short visit to Hobart. On this visit, we stayed in the historic inner city suburb of Battery Point. It is on a hill and so affords a good view of the Derwent River.

Battery Point Walk

While wandering around the local park, hubby was happy to find out that it had had a famous scientific visitor in the past.

Battery Point Walk

Wandering around Battery Point and its neighbouring suburb, Sandy Bay, we were happy to see a lot of colonial era houses still in good condition. Probably not surprising since they’re two of the most expensive suburbs of Hobart.

That’s all from Tasmania. But I’ve done some travelling since then, so I’ll be back with more adventures soon!

Lake St Clair – Part 3

Being in the middle of Tassie, you might wonder if there were any animals about. There were, though many of them were elusive. The most accessible were actually the marsupials. We have seen pademelons before way back in Stanley.

Pademelon
A pademelon grazing.

But it was my first glimpse of the following two animals. As I said in my previous post, the cooler Tasmanian weather produces some interesting adaptations to otherwise run-of-the-mill ‘mainland’ species. Look at these two and see how they differ from their northern cousins.

Tasmanian Wombat
Tasmanian wombat
Tasmanian Echidna
Tasmanian echidna.

And the big lake is of course stocked with trout, for all those keen anglers.

Brown Trout
Brown Trout.

Lake St Clair – Part 2

The following day, the weather was not fine, but the rain just added to the drama of the scenery.

We still went for a slightly wet wander close to Pumphouse Point, and we found a lot to see. Tasmanian flora and fauna is so very distinct from those of the mainland. It’s one of the main reasons for visiting this area.

Today, we’ll concentrate on the flora. Despite the weather, it was early summer, so there was plenty of wildflowers in bloom.

Much of the flowers were small and wispy. I suppose they can’t get very big in so cool a climate.

Lake St Clair – Part 1

Continuing on our pre-Covid Tasmanian road-trip, we made our way from the West Coast to the East. That involved passing through a bit of wilderness.

It had been 14 years since I had passed this way, when I walked the Overland Track. This time, I wasn’t in good enough physical shape to walk the track, but I did want to see the area again. Our ‘compromise’ was to stay at Pumphouse Point, a wilderness resort right by the lake.

Lake St Clair at Pumphouse Point
Lake St Clair at Pumphouse Point
Lake St Clair at Pumphouse Point

But the main event isn’t the accommodation (in my opinion) but the wonderful view of Lake St. Clair.

Lake St Clair at Pumphouse Point
Lake St Clair at Pumphouse Point

Western Tasmania – Part 5

The last town we’ll visit on our tour of Western Tasmania is Strahan.

Strahan

This town is also the smallest and the most remote, surrounded by thick forest, and being 270km and 301km by road to Launceston and Hobart respectively.

Strahan
Strahan

But despite its current size, this town is also historically one of the most important in the region due to its location on the shore of Macquarie Harbour, a deep water harbour, and the closest access point to the surrounding towns. The railway originally terminated here.

Strachan

This harbour was a highway that carried ships that transported copper, gold and other resources, like timber from the surrounding forests, and in the 19th Century, convicts. Sarah Island is a small island in the harbour that was the home of the most secure penal colony in the land. I remember learning about this area in high school when we read the classic Australian novel, For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke. The description of life on the island and a convict’s determination to escape it was especially vivid.

Western Tasmania – Part 4

We’re back to rainy Queenstown on the west coast of Tasmania, and today we’re riding on a steam train.

West Coast Wilderness Railway

The West Coast Wilderness Railway runs from Queenstown to the West Coast port of Strachan. It is a heritage railway that used to transport product from the Mount Lyell Copper Mine in Queenstown to the coast, where it can be shipped out to the big wide world.

The current railway consists of original locomotives and carriages from the same era.

West Coast Wilderness Railway

It snakes through the wild west coast rainforest…

West Coast Wilderness Railway

Up and down steep hills and across torrential rivers.

West Coast Wilderness Railway

As you might guess, the railway would have taken awhile to construct through this trick terrain. Sydney-siders, you shouldn’t be complaining about this current bout of wet weather. Try living in Queenstown for a few months, or years. Although I have to concede that the rain in Queenstown generally falls more gently, like British rain.

Adventures on life's merry-go-round