Living on Lord Howe Island


Super Yacht Season on Lord Howe

Posted by Dani Rourke – Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Serious superyachts on Lord Howe Island

A few years ago, one of our waiters resigned and left Lord Howe to do a super yacht course. The course was marketed to young hospitality professionals who wanted to work in the glamorous super yacht industry. It was based in Cairns, and anyone who completed the internationally recognised 6-week course was pretty much guaranteed a job on a super yacht and a fascinating career spent in places like Monte Carlo, the Caribbean and the Dalmatian Coast. Apparently, lots of super yacht owners employ graduates of the course to be location scouts and try out fancy restaurants, 6 star hotels, dive sites and shopping districts for them, because they’re too busy to do their own research. 

We wished Chelsea well with the course and privately had a bit of a chuckle. I mean, the course was expensive and it sounded like a complete swindle. Just how many people landed the “location scout” job anyway? We met the gorgeous captain of James Packer’s super yacht, Sea Horse, a few years ago when it visited Lord Howe, and he’d worked for the Packers for 15 years taking yachts between Sydney, Florida and the Mediterranean. He said he’d never been asked to try out a fancy restaurant. Not even once.   

So, imagine my surprise when we had a real location scout at Lord Howe last week, investigating attractions and planning activities in advance of the arrival of the most enormous super yacht I’ve ever seen. The yacht itself is called Octopus (and if you Google it, you’ll see how huge it looked in Sydney Harbour). It’s 8 storeys high, plus the helipad - roughly the same size as Rabbit Island. It belongs to one of the owners of Microsoft and has a crew of 60 but only 4 or 5 guests. It looks a bit out of place at Lord Howe, but then, it is super yacht season...   

Super yacht season happens every year, but (thankfully!) it doesn’t last long. For most of the year at Lord Howe, our guests are families with young kids and adventurous retirees who’ve been to the Kimberley and Antarctica and are looking for a new adventure. However, for a very short time - between say 3 January and 10 January each year - we have super yachts and Learjets. The season doesn’t start until after New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbour and it’s all over pretty quickly as the super yacht people are travelling first class to meet their super yacht friends and go skiing together in Klosters or Deer Valley. 

So, in the interests of making it a bit easier for the next location scout, here are my top Lord Howe insider tips for discerning super yacht guests:  

Champagne breakfast at North Bay There’s no road to North Bay and if you go there by boat at breakfast time, you’ll almost certainly be the only people there. North Bay has a spectacular view of the Lagoon and Mt Gower and Mt Lidgbird. Conveniently, Dawsons Point hides the airstrip and all of the settled areas of the island from view. You can sit at your table with its perfect white tablecloth and sterling silver cutlery, drinking icy cold Dom Perignon from a crystal flute and eating fresh strawberries and little blinis with caviar and feel like the only people in the world.  

Snorkelling or diving at the Pyramid People come from all over the world to go diving at the Pyramid, the largest sea stack in the world. Everything is big – massive undersea cliffs, huge coral reef, strong ocean currents, lots of fish, big sharks… The bad news is that often the conditions are too rough for diving. But, if you own a super yacht, you could always do a scenic helicopter trip to the Pyramid instead, couldn’t you?   

Day trip to Middleton and Elizabeth reefs Middleton and Elizabeth reefs sit at the northern end of the Lord Howe Rise, about 160 km north of Lord Howe. Both reefs are littered with ship wrecks. The most prominent is the wreck of the Runic, an ocean steamer wrecked on Middleton Reef during a cyclone in the early 1960s. The diving and snorkelling are amazing at both reefs, with schools of Black cod and numerous Galapagos sharks. At Elizabeth Reef, there’s a tiny island, about one metre above sea level, the perfect spot for a picnic, or an exclusive selfie.   

Evening lagoon cruise On a perfectly still summer evening, there’s nothing like a scenic lagoon cruise under the mountains with a stop at Lovers Bay. The Lagoon faces west, so it’s beautiful at sunset and, our sommelier tells me, nothing goes better with Eden Valley Riesling than fresh Lord Howe Island Kingfish sashimi.   

Shopping and sightseeing on Lord Howe Don’t tell the super yacht people, but I’ve never dived at the Pyramid (too scared) and I’ve never made the overnight journey to Middleton reef either (too scared and too seasick). However, I can confidently recommend some of Lord Howe’s cultural attractions. No super yacht guest should go home without at least sampling a Gower Burger from Thompsons Store, having a schooner of New with the locals at the Bowlo, hanging out with the teenagers (and teenagers at heart) at the Radio Shack on a Thursday night, taking a tour of the Waste Management Facility (aka the tip) and browsing for snow domes and 1980s Barbie dolls at Joys Shop on Middle Beach Road. 

What are the best 6 star attractions near your place?

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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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