Living on Lord Howe Island


The Island Trader

Posted by Pinetrees Lodge – Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Island Trader at Lord Howe Island

Contributed by Denis Corcoran: This Island Trader makes the journey to Lord Howe Island every two weeks over several hundred kilometres of open ocean, returning to and from Port Macquarie. At first impressions, one could joke that it almost looks like a washed up old fishing trawler from Jamaica. Painted in the classic Rastafarian tri-colour, it cuts a striking figure against the all-natural green backdrop of Old Settlement.

This chunk of floating steel is actually the Island’s vital artery of life – it pumps goods and enables services to function throughout the island community.

With its flat bottomed hull, the Island Trader comes in on a high tide through the north passage, moors alongside the jetty, and rests its rusty belly on the lagoon bottom.

At first light, the action begins to unfold, one crate at a time.

The dual cranes on the ship work in tandem, hoisting bundles and crates onto the wooden jetty. The peaceful serenity of the still morning air is pierced with the incessant beeps of commercial vehicles in reverse. There are some older guys standing around, those who have reached that acceptable age (usually around 40yrs+) who are instinctively allowed to signal in reversing vehicles with one hand. The young bucks are up on the backs of the trucks. Standard.

But it’s the three red forklifts that do the majority of the donkey work, zipping up and down the jetty like motorised yo-yos. The occasional one peels off and guns it round past Flagstaff Point into ‘town’, sometimes at breakneck speeds for Lord Howe, pushing the boundaries of the legal limit – 25 km/hr.

It’s go time. They are full throttle GSD (a Pinetrees acronym for Getting Stuff Done). Barely a minute has passed and the same two forklifts are racing back for another load.

Once the more leisurely time of 8am rolls around, the area surrounding the jetty is a hive of activity. Trucks get loaded up and saunter off into the community, dropping off eagerly awaited supplies. The red forklifts buzz about continuously. Men in yellow high vis shirts direct the ship hoists. Orange cones mark the boundaries for pedestrians and curious onlookers.

The Island Trader is the lifeline to the outside world. It brings food, diesel, mail, and most importantly, packages from Dan Murphy. His brown boxes always plentiful in supply, keeping the Island’s residents ‘hydrated’ during the summer months.

On its return voyage, the ships belly is full of the rubbish that is not possible to recycle down at the local tip.

The best place to watch all of this unfold is from Flagstaff Point. A vantage point which offers height over the jetty and the added bonus of being able to watch the forklifts and trucks zip off into the community.

The best time to watch all of this unfold is on two week cycles, generally every fortnight on a Saturday morning. Ask any resident when the next ship arrives and you’ll get the answer, everyone instinctively knows when the next ship is due!

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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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