Living on Lord Howe Island


High enough on the Lower Road

Posted by Pinetrees Lodge – Thursday, February 15, 2018

Contributed by Denis Corcoran: I’m standing alongside this big rock, called Little Island, and I’m looking up at the enormous cliff faces of Mt Lidgbird. Somewhere up there is the Lower Road.

Discombobulated linguistics aside, it can all seem overwhelming at first sight. There’s nothing little, or low, about this whole place. There are huge waves pounding the shoreline only metres away. The top of the mountain is beyond my sky high gaze and there’s no clearly marked track to anywhere. It dawns on me that it’s meant to be like this. It’s not your ‘walk in the park’ type of tourist track.

Hopping across a splattering of bald grey rocks along the ocean edge will lead you across to the hidden entrance to where the ascent begins. Camouflaged behind a wall of green forest lies a big dirty rope, and it will assist you for the next intense 80 vertical metres of your life.

Quite a lot of people turn back here, but having come this far, you don’t want to be that person.

This initial blast from sea level to the start of the Lower Road is akin to ‘busting a nut without blowing a gasket’. A slice of colloquial ’truckie’ slang that means it’s steep, hard and requires a bit of grunt.

If you thought you had the ‘lower’ part of this climb in the bag after a solid ‘straighty one eighty’ slug-fest up the side of the mountain, think again. The road has only begun. Now you head for the edge, following the cliff face around like a pre programmed little penguin precariously scrambling around a ledge.

The Lower Road itself is a formidable grassy ledge, etched into the side of the basalt cliffs of Mt Lidgbird. It inspires fear into the pre-petrified hearts of vertigo sufferers.

Understandably, that fear is palpable. Let go of the safety ropes, or trip and fall a metre to one side, and well, it’s a long way down. If the tectonic plates wanted to move deep in the earth’s crust below, you could guarantee a hail of rocks from above, and again, game over.

So without a shadow of a doubt, the Lower Road could be perceived as a death trap by the eternal pessimist. However we don’t drink half empty glasses around here - this walk is not for prophets of doom. Fortune favours the brave. The risk to reward ratio is minimal, providing you’re not an idiot.

There are large shipping ropes securely fastened to the cliff face with bolts. The path is well trodden and helmets are provided by your guide – a necessity.

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About Dani Rourke

HELP! I have 2 children, 25 staff and up to 75 guests. I was a lawyer for 10 years, but escaped. My husband and I moved from Sydney to beautiful Lord Howe Island to run Pinetrees Lodge, which has been in my family for 6 generations. I'm writing about family business, island life and the whole work/family disaster. Did someone say balance? When I'm not writing, my lovely staff do it for me - they see more of the island than I do.

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