Living on Lord Howe Island


The Herring Pools

Posted by Pinetrees Lodge – Sunday, February 04, 2018

Contributed by Denis Corcoran: If dancing in thin air were illegal, these birds would be in jail. The gracefulness of the Red-tailed tropic birds playfully prancing about the northern most cliffs of Lord Howe is a reason in itself to venture here. However I’m not chasing birds. I’m here with my partner and we’re chasing the gold at the bottom of the Lord Howe rainbow - the Herring Pools.

Upon arriving at our destination, a series of sparkling coral garden pools teaming with an assortment of miniature marine life, lie at our feet. Juvenile fish have swum in here with the full tide, nabbing themselves the equivalent of a hotel room for the night as the tide retreats. The safe haven of the ‘Herring Pool Hotel’ offers all guests a good night’s rest. No large googly-eyed predator will harass them here in the dark of the night.

As the tide subsides, the smiling clams, the brain textured corals and fuzzy seaweed expose their naked selves to the harshness of the midday sun. The pools are iridescent soft greens, yellows, blues and purples. It’s a wonderful choice of hotel for marine life, and the decor and location are five star.

Back in the real world, standing atop of these coral encrusted rocky pools there’s a relentless assault on the senses. The contrast of the multi coloured pockets of water against the sharp grey volcanic rock with splashes of red basalt dykes keep our eyes scrambling for focus. The air is salty on the lips and the breeze whips up off the open ocean licking the underside of our ear lobes. The scene is calm until the unpredictable wild ocean roars in with another surge, sending white wash spraying up into the air shattering the stillness.

I look up and can’t figure out if the sound of the birds is disproportionate to the sheer numbers or the other way around.

This harmonious calamity of such spectacular diversity is what you want from nature. To say this place is ‘alive’ is somewhat of an understatement.

From this jagged rock lip that pouts out into the ocean lies a unique snapshot of the geological formation of the northern side of Lord Howe Island. A subtle breathtaking moment washes over me standing in the shadow of these huge cliffs that dive deep into the dark blue ocean. It’s one of those humbling ‘nature v man’ moments that is so ubiquitous across Lord Howe.

Up above, the sky is peppered with salt like dots stretching all the way from Malabar to Kims. The sprinkle of white birds come into focus the closer they fly towards you until you can almost reach out and touch them. The manner in which they manipulate the updrafts, saddle up besides each other, provoking a reaction, seemingly playing a game of kiss and chase draws smiles from us both. These birds soar with such pace, then hold up mid air and pause with such grace that we’re both wide eyed with mouths open.

As the tide starts to rise, natures invariable nudge for us to get moving, we depart the ‘Herring Pool Hotel’. Edging round the cliff into Old Gulch, the drop off into the ocean is deep and blue. There’s a somewhat ‘sharky’ feel to it, not that that’s a bad thing. There are sharks all around Lord Howe, still it takes some stigma shaking to contemplate swimming out here alone. Safety in numbers seems like the play of the day. Today however, we valiantly decide that these chickens are going to get to the other side safely.

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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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