Lord Howe Island, more than a natural paradise, and on our doorstep »
Mountains, birds, turtles in sparkling waters and food, really good food
By Kerry Scambler
Think Lord Howe Island and images of mountain peaks framing a sparkling blue lagoon are sure to spring to mind. But now when I reflect on my Lord Howe sojourn, it will be with fond memories of this natural paradise and, perhaps surprisingly, of extraordinarily good food.
When planning our trip, we were certainly thinking about the snorkelling, the weather, the birds and fish and all the other natural beauty. We dreamt of the days to be spent relaxing in paradise with no mobile or internet. (Although some of us had nightmares about the prospect of travelling on bicycles for the first time in decades!)
Surprisingly what none of us gave much thought to was food other than yes, there were options and they were close to our accommodation. That’s all we needed to know.
So we arrive on a lovely October afternoon to very comfortable, private accommodation at Lorhiti and the next six, similarly lovely days were indeed filled with snorkelling, walking, cycling (not the nightmare we envisaged, thankfully!), hand feeding the fish on Neds Beach and taking photos of birds (just a few… hundred!).
Lord Howe truly is a paradise and there were many highlights, but one truly unexpected one was the food. It was excellent quality wherever we went – the Golf Club, the Bowls Club, fine-dining, café or catching our own. The service was good and we found the prices very reasonable, especially given the quality.
The first thing to know is that you have to book for dinner, wherever you are going. Second thing is that your accommodation venue will generally deliver you to your dining location, who will in turn bring you home. It’s a wonderful service that meant we could totally relax without worrying about how we were going to ride those bikes home…up the hill!
And so to our Lord Howe dining guide:
Golfy Sunset Bar & Restaurant (dinner Tues, Fri and Sun).
It was a busy place with a lot of families (school holidays about to end) but it was a friendly atmosphere so we set up in the corner on the deck. Meals were cooked up in a commercial kitchen set up in a shed outside with help-yourself vegies, salads and chips inside. My pork and chilli squid dish was delicious (and no I didn’t add chips!) and fellow diners were equally impressed.
A true highlight of the trip. I indulged in: kingfish sashimi with coconut and mango that was simply divine; grilled kingfish with cauliflower puree, kipfler potatoes and a fennel and apple snow; followed by a lemon and lime creme bruleé with peanut biscotti and coconut sorbet. We all chose differently but it was all fresh, flavoursome and savoured by every one of us.
Sharing great food and wine with good friends in this beautiful place made a memory we will recall with a smile for years.
Plus it was also close enough for us to walk home in the warm night air.
Catch your own
One lovely still morning we went out on board the MV Carina with skipper Jimmy and deckhand Dion (also the local mechanic) on a charter to catch some kingfish. Seeing the island from the sparkling water simply reinforced its splendour and the looming mountains showed a different face from our floating lookout.
We caught enough kingfish for a long afternoon's lunch and friend Roger added a good sized trevalla to the mix. After a few hours and a fresh fish BBQ beckoning we turned homewards. What is it that makes being on the water, watching the scenery change and the bow waves splash so relaxing? I love it. (Oh and there might have been one or two shots of the shearwaters taken!)
Back to Lorhiti and with Roger on BBQ duties, we found the wine and sat back discussing our morning's boating adventure. Life doesn't get much better!
That night we ran into Jimmy at the Bowls Club bar and had a chat about island life. Being a fifth generation islander, he knew a bit about it which was fascinating.
Located near the waterfront, Anchorage was our usual daily coffee and lunch destination and twice our dinner venue, once for their Roast Night and another night for the usual a la carte. Again, kingfish sashimi was on the menu and didn't disappoint with superb flavours.
The Roast Night certainly wasn't like the carvery you might expect, but rather a range of meats all roasted in various ways. The lamb in particular was delicious and we suspect it also went into our tasty lamb wrap lunches the following day!
The coffee was good as was the service and we discovered a special link to Hobart through wooden boats and sailors. In fact in a demonstration of how small the world is, the small Huon pine boat displayed over our heads was built in Gordon, Tasmania and named after the Anchorage's owner's daughter, Alanna. Fellow traveller Lee went to school with Alanna's sister!
This was where many locals gathered in the bar for their after work drinks and we love chatting to locals! You get an insight into the people who usually spend their time serving you in some way.
Kingfish again featured and the sashimi was once more a simple, beautiful flavour. Having enjoyed a large lunch earlier, a small salt and pepper squid was perfect. The parmis were reported on well too.
Other Lord Howe highlights:
Cruise to North Bay with Turtle Tours for snorkelling, turtle watching, bird watching and morning tea. Tip: wear a wetsuit for longer time in the water.
The bikes: despite reservations by some, we enjoyed going everywhere with bikes and our varying fitness levels (mine = zero!) didn't matter as it was mostly flat. Cars are limited to 25kmh and were all very aware of wobbly tourists!
An artist's gallery off the main strip: Izak Surf Photography was tucked away amongst the abundant vegetation. His work is brilliant and captures the magnificence of his island home (he's also a lovely guy!).Check Izak's work out here: www.izaksurfphotography.com.au and you'll soon see the breathtaking beauty of Lord Howe.
Island honesty: on losing my wallet at Golfy's on the first night, our accommodation manager, Jess, assured me the next day it would turn up. And sure enough it did, quickly and intact. Throughout that first morning and the trip, various locals would ask if I was the one who lost the wallet. Everyone knew to watch out for it! Handing over my card for the last shop on our trip, the gentleman serving asked "Are you the lady who lost the wallet?" I answered in the affirmative. He said "Thought I recognised that bright green card, I was the one who found it". 10/10 for great service and integrity.
Feeding the fish and snorkelling on Ned's Beach which was just a short walk through the bush from Lorhiti.
The Lord Howe verdict:
We were constantly told "It's paradise, you'll love it". And we did. Quite simply, if it's on your bucket list, make it happen. I might even put a repeat visit on mine... after I've sorted the 800+ photos of birds I seem to have collected!
Kerry, her partner and friends travelled to Lord Howe Island at their own expense and paid their way at all the above businesses
- Lord Howe Island (NSW)
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