Lord Howe Island is a quietly majestic place, a true (and World Heritage-listed) Garden of Eden where kids can roam as barefoot and free as the funny local mutton birds; the waters are just as shockingly blue as the pictures suggest; and where pesky everyday realities like litter, graffiti, traffic jams and shoes are marvellously absent.
Situated in splendid Pacific isolation 700 kilometres east of mainland NSW, Lord Howe Island is the kind of place that casts a lasting spell. Honeymooners return with their children, who in turn bring their own children to show them just what paradise looks like.
We’ve all seen the photos – the jagged mountains pushing up through an impossibly turquoise sea, fringed by creamy white sands and leading inland to a deep green jumble of banyan, palm and pine trees. Hidden within this greenery are 241 native plant species (almost half of which are found nowhere else in the world), exotic birds and even the world’s largest stick insect, until recently thought to be extinct.
It’s not just the wildlife that’s rare here – we humans are, too. The island has a strict 400-bed limit, meaning you’ll never be stuck amid those madding crowds that can so often turn a dream location into a crowded nightmare.
There are so many things that make this place perfect for kids: the safety; the huge array of wildlife and marine activity to marvel at; the way they can happily play, swim, snorkel, cycle, and poke at the friendly fish for hours while mum and dad sip wine and enjoy the sunset.
Lord Howe Island is a place for serious bonding time – with no mobile phone reception and very limited internet access, you’re forced to wrench your devices from tightly clenched hands and find other things to do: casting fishing lines, for example, or rubbing sunscreen onto excited little faces.
Sleep: Pinetrees, one of Australia’s oldest family businesses, has a changing roster of activities and themed packages, such as Wilderness Weeks, and offers family deals.
Play: Ned’s Beach is teeming with colourful fish – drop a donation in the honesty box and snorkel to your heart’s content; or explore one of the island’s many walking tracks.
Eat: Monday is Pie Night at the local bowling club (also the island’s only pub), a drawcard for both locals and tourists. Bookings on 02 6563 2171.