Lord Howe Island Tourist Information

Tour Bookings

The Reception Staff at Milky Way Villas can arrange all of your Lord Howe Island bus tours, fishing or glass bottom boat adventures, guided walks, car or bicycle hire requirements. Some of these matters are best arranged before you arrive whereas others are preferably arranged after you settle into your Milky Way holiday accommodation. Please discuss your requirements with us prior to your arrival.

World Heritage Area

Lord Howe Island group has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list for its rare collection of plants, birds, marine life and for its incredible beauty and scenery.

A remarkable example of isolated oceanic islands, born of volcanic activity more than 2,000 metres under the sea, these islands boast a spectacular topography and protect numerous endemic species, especially birds.

Lord Howe Island is almost unique among small Pacific Ocean islands in that its mountains have sufficient altitude for the development of true cloud forest on their summits.

There are 241 native species of vascular plants on the island, including 105 endemics. Sixteen of these are considered rare, endangered or vulnerable. The vegetation has affinities with sub-tropical and temperate rain forests.

A small population of little cave bats still occurs. No other indigenous native mammals are known. There are at least 129 native and introduced bird species. Lord Howe is now the only known breeding ground for providence petrel although it also probably breeds on Ball’s Pyramid. Fleshy-footed shearwater breed in substantial numbers on Lord Howe, with possibly half the world’s population present. Other important species breeding within the preserve include Kermadec petrel, black-winged petrel, wedge-tailed shearwater, little shearwater, white-bellied storm petrel, masked booby, red-tailed tropic bird, Sooty tern, noddy and grey ternlet. Several migratory wader species are regular visitors to the island.

There are several endemic birds present on the island. The Lord Howe Island woodhen, was reduced to some 26 individuals in 1975, but has been successfully bred in captivity and now numbers around 220. The other endemic land birds are the silver-eye, Lord Howe Island golden whistler and the Lord Howe Island currawong.

The terrestrial and freshwater crustacea include a freshwater crab and a freshwater prawn.

The waters around Lord Howe Island provide an unusual mixture of temperate and tropical organisms, 477 fish species having been recorded in 107 families of which 4% are unrecorded elsewhere other than in Norfolk Island-Middleton Reef waters.

Island History

The island was first sighted in February 1788, during a journey by the HMS Supply, under the command of Henry Lidgbird Ball. He named the island after Richard Howe, the famous British Admiral.

Early visitors to the island included ships traveling between Sydney and Norfolk Island, as well as American whaling and trading vessels.

In 1834 settlers arrived from New Zealand and provided meat and vegetables to passing ships. They were replaced by a succession of private settlers from the Colony of New South Wales.

In 1853 Nathan Thompson and his wife arrived. Thompson built the first timber house and most of the Island’s descendants today claim some connection with that family.

As whaling declined in the 1870’s another industry had to be found to keep the island financially viable, so the export of palm fibre, palm seed and pandanus seed was encouraged. The seed was soon prized by nurserymen in Europe and Australia.

The seeds were sold by a company on behalf of the Islanders and when the Islanders became dissatisfied with the deal they were receiving, Mr Walter Bevan, K.C was appointed as a Royal Commissioner to enquire into the trade of the Island and its problems. He recommended that a board be established to take control of the affairs and trade of the Island.

In February 1913, the Lord Howe Island Board of Control came into existence. It was not appointed by Act of Parliament but derived its authority from the Governor-in-Council. The Board was to take charge of the affairs of the Island and trade and was to be vested with a permissive occupancy of the whole of the Island, with all previously existing permissive occupancies to be cancelled. The Lord Howe Island Act 1953, re-constituted the Board of Control as the Lord Howe Island Board in 1954. With the passing of the 1953 Act, supervision of the Board passed from the Chief Secretary’s Department, to the Department of Lands. Administration of the Act was moved to the Premier’s Department in September 1983, to the Department of Local Government in September 1986, and in April 1988 to the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Burns Philp steamships carried casual visitors to the Island, who often liked to stay. The early part of the century saw guest houses being established, and by the mid 1930’s steamship visits were regular. The War years saw a decline in the luxury palm business as well as the tourist industry and the steamships stopped coming to the Island. From 1947 to 1951 Qantas provided a regular Catalina Flying Boat Service. Ansett Airways took over the service in 1953 flying Sandringham’s until 1974, when the airstrip was built.

Tourism continued to grow in the following years following with air services operating from Sydney, Brisbane, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie in NSW Australia.

Location & Climate

Located in the South Pacific Ocean, 700km north-east of Sydney and included administratively in New South Wales. The preserve includes some 75% of the land area of Lord Howe Island and all of the offshore islands and rocks of significant size in the region. These include the Admiralty Group (immediately to the north-east of Lord Howe Island); Mutton Bird and Sail Rock, Blackburn (Rabbit) Island (in the lagoon on the western side of Lord Howe Island); Gower Island and Ball’s Pyramid (25km south-east of Lord Howe Island), together with a number of small islands and rocks.

The area of the island is approximately 1,176ha. The World Heritage site includes the whole island region, covering approximately 1,540ha of land area. The wider island group which includes Admirality Islands, Mutton Bird Islands, Balls Pyramid and associated coral reefs and marine areas covers 136,300ha.

The main island of Lord Howe measures 10km from north and south and is little more than 2km in width. It roughly describes a crescent, enclosing a coral reef lagoon on its south-western side. The island’s topography is dominated by the southerly Mount Gower (875m) and Mount Lidgbird (777m). Steep cliffs rise several hundred metres to form theseaward flanks of Mount Gower. Only a narrow isthmus of lowland country in the north-central part of the island is habitable. The northern tip consists of steep hillsides culminating in extensive sea cliffs against the northern coastline. Scattered around the main island are several groups of smaller islands and rocks. The most distant of these is a group of small islets and rock stacks around the 650m pinnacle of Balls Pyramid, 25km to the south-east of Lord Howe.

Lord Howe Island is the eroded remnant of a large shield volcano which erupted from the sea floor intermittently for about 500,000 years, 6.5 to 7 million years ago. The island group represents the exposed peaks of a large volcanic seamount which is about 65km long and 24km wide and which rises from ocean depths of over 1,800m. The Lord Howe seamount is near the southern end of a chain of such seamounts, mostly below sea level, extending for over 1,000km. These mark the successive movement of the Australian tectonic plate over a ‘hotspot’ within the upper mantle below. Four separate series of volcanic rocks are recognised on the main island group, the oldest being exposed in the Admiralty Group and on the north-eastern tip of Lord Howe. These include tuffs, breccia and basalts, with widespread intrusion of basaltic dykes, and are overlain by progressively younger units to the south.

The dominant landforming process on Lord Howe since the last of the volcanic eruptions has been marine erosion, which has cut and maintained major cliffs. Slope failure and accumulation of talus at the foot of some cliffs, especially in the south, have modified their original shape.

The island supports the southernmost true coral reef in the world, which differs considerably from more northerly warm water reefs. It is unique in being a transition between the algal and coral reef, due to fluctuations of hot and cold water around the island. The entire island group has remarkable volcanic exposures not known elsewhere, with slightly weathered exposed volcanics showing a great variety of upper mantle and oceanic type basalts. Ball’s Pyramid represents the nearly complete stage in the destruction of a volcanic island.

The climate is humid subtropical with a mean temperature of 16°C in August and 23°C in February. Mean annual rainfall in the lowlands is almost 1700mm, with a pronounced maximum in winter and a mean rainfall of 100mm in February. Relative humidity is high at 75-78% and wind levels average 13 knots in August, 9-10 knots in January and March.

To check the current time, temperature and climatic conditions, click here.

There is currently a resident population of approximately 300. Tourism is the major component of the island economy. Commercial activities within the preserve include collection of palm seed, especially Kentia palm Howea forsterana and cutting of Pandanus foliage for production of baskets and other craft items.

General Information

General Information about your magical holiday destination at pristine Lord Howe Island. This is an Island of tranquility, majestic beauty and unique environment preserved by its World Heritage listing for those fortunate enough to visit by boat or aircraft for a memorable holiday.

The climate is subtropical maritime, with mild-to-warm summers and cool-to-mild winters. Temperatures range from 18°C to 26°C in summer and 13°C to 19°C in winter. Relative humidity is high, 75-78%. Wind levels average 13 knots in August, 9-10 knots in January. There are no prevailing trade winds and no sea breezes as the land mass is too small. Weather approximates that of Port Macquarie on the mid coast of New South Wales, only two days later. Check the current time, temperature and climatic conditions.

Air services operate between Lord Howe Island, Sydney, Brisbane and Port Maquarie (Qantas Link).

The currency is Australian Dollars. Bank agencies operate on limited hours.

There is a Post Office and the island has a small hospital with clinic, dispensary and a doctor.

ATM at Bowling Club.

Accommodation and return air ticket must be pre-arranged and confirmed to allow entry.

Lord Howe Island is a first port of entry. Customs and Port Operations are managed by the local Police.

Lord Howe Island Marine operates on – HF 4125MHz (7am to 8pm) VHF 16 (calling) 12 (working) 24 hours.

Moorings are established in the lagoon in depths of 1.5-2.5m and in South Passage in depths greater than 2.5m. Total moorings numbers restricted to 25. Lagoon entrance and exit requires Port Operations approval. No anchorage is allowed within the lagoon and entrance will be in daylight only, unless in a Marine Emergency.

Port Services – Repairs to small boats can be effected. There is a small slipway and mobile crane of 6 tonnes SWL. Fresh Water is available in 25 litre PVC containers. Diesel Fuel is available in drums.

Island vehicle traffic is limited to 25kph maximum speed and the main mode of transport for the visitor is bicycle, which can be readily hired.

The Island’s general stores sell a variety of goods; food, clothing, liquor, arts, crafts and souvenirs. Hours of operation vary.

There are excellent restaurants, eateries and take away food shops on the island and the days and hours of operation vary.

Lord Howe Island time is a half hour ahead of Australian Eastern Standard Time. However there is no time difference during the Australian Summer Daylight Saving period.

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