Living on Lord Howe Island


The kids are leaving again

Posted by Pinetrees Lodge – Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A plane load of kids departs Lord Howe Island

Contributed by Lena Thompson There’s nothing that brings more tears to my eyes on Lord Howe than the noise made by the revving engines of the QantasLink Dash 8, as it’s about to make it’s quick escape down our short runway.

That noise is all too familiar for island kids who travel to and from the island to go back to school and university. Whether it be boarding school, living with parents or living with a housemate on the mainland, the sound of those engines never gets any easier. That noise gives me a nervous/excitable/sickening/sinking feeling all at the same time. The feeling that you’ve had another life changing holiday on beautiful Lord Howe, full of sun, salt, laughter and love, and when that plane door locks you know there is no going back.

I remember back to when I would visit my father here on the island every school holidays, and the hardest part was always leaving his strong embrace at the airport gates. I’d be fighting back the tears and he’d be making full-scale Dad jokes to try and make me laugh, mixed in with life analogies that one day I know I’ll appreciate. I’d sit down on the plane sniffling with my copious amounts of hand luggage and plane letters written from my friends on Lord Howe. The letters were usually written after a long, crazy summer and were only to be opened after take off. The door would lock; I’d fasten my belt and get ready for reality. As the plane taxied down the runway, my face was planted against the window where my Dad, and the parents of other island kids going to school, would park their cars alongside the airstrip and wave goodbye. Tears began to well, as all of us kids sat on the plane with the sun kissed visitors dotted around us. As we sat and waited at the end of the runway, the passengers were silent. We didn’t talk and we’d try to take in as much of the island visually as we could before it became a speck in the sea. Seemingly out of the blue, that noise got louder and I'd see Dad and the other parents waving madly. It was time to go, we all knew it, and the tears would flow. For me as a kid, there was nothing better than a summer on Lord Howe.

Now I’m currently back living on the island after university - making up for all those departures, where the Dash 8 seemed to steal me away from dreamlike holidays that I thought would never end. But now, I see my two little sisters who are 11 and 7 making those trips every holidays, and it still doesn’t get any easier watching them go. Yet now I’m the one watching them from the airstrip road, and I’m the one standing with my Dad waving madly at those little windows hoping they’ll see me. The engines roar and I hope they’re not fighting back tears, because no matter where I’m standing or sitting that noise still gets me, every time.

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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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