Living on Lord Howe Island


The Summit of Mt Gower

Posted by Pinetrees Lodge – Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Contributed by Pia Funch: “Congratulations – you made it to the top”

The words echo in my head as I close my eyes and take a deep breath of pure air. I did it. I just walked up to the top of a mountain. It’s real. The last few rough hours of walking and climbing already feels like a distant memory. Now, all that matters is the now. And in the now, I am standing in the middle of one of the most pristine environments on this precious earth: the misty forest at the summit of Mount Gower on Lord Howe Island.

There’s no view to indicate that this is the top just yet. Because like everything else on this UNESCO paradise, the top of Mount Gower is just different. Reaching 875 metres above sea level, the summit of the island’s highest mountain consists of a flat forest covered area with flora and fauna not seen anywhere else in the world. The walk to the top is a 15 km round trip and is considered one of Australia’s best day walks. Reaching the top is an achievement in itself. Spending time among the wonders that await once at the top is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The visitor book at the top reveals signatures of the lucky souls who have been here before me. This is the last sign of civilisation before exploring the fairy tale invisible track that will take us to our lunch spot. Only a few people have been here and only the most experienced guides know how to get here. Bless them for giving us this unique experience. Everywhere I look, small curly palms, Kentia palms, mossy low-branched trees and green damp soil surround me. Everything seems to grow less here at the top and I feel like Alice in Wonderland as I tip-toe my way into the unknown. Everything is so precious. Like a piece of art you shouldn’t touch.

The air is cool, fresh and silent. The famous resident Lord Howe Island Woodhens make their characteristic callings before welcoming us at the clearing where a spectacular view of Mount Lidgbird, the island and the never ending ocean can be seen. In a few months, the sky will be filled with the extraordinary Providence petrels coming home after travelling the world. For now, we have the pleasure of being accompanied by the endemic Lord Howe Currawongs as we sit down to take a well-deserved lunch break. “Hey buddy! Good to see you up here!”. It looks at me with intelligent eyes and I smile again as yet another realisation hits me: you know you have fallen in love with Lord Howe Island when you start talking to the birds. Also, I’m at the top of a mountain. I love my life.

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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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