14 Wild Women, 4 summits and 1 cyclone...
By Lara Lesigang | Lord Howe 2017 Wild Woman
Lord Howe is Natural Exhilaration in its purest form! From the moment I spotted two turtles from the plane as we came into land, I knew it would be no ordinary destination.
5 days (or 7/8!), 14 Wild Women, 4 summits (and 1 cyclone!) it was going to be an adventure!
As soon as we arrived we were forced into island mode in the best way possible - a snorkelling adventure. We set off with Ken's Environmental Tours to 3 different spots. It was incredible! The feeling of being weightless while feasting our eyes on an array of multi-coloured fish and coral was amazing! However, the quiet was quickly disrupted by a frightful shriek, 'There's a f*** shark, causing us to swim back to the boat, duck our heads under the water and watch this animal swim gracefully through the water.
That night we got involved straight away in the local action at the bowlo - which is exactly like a bowlo in Sydney – only 30 years ago! The food was great and was made even better by wine and hilarious 'getting-to-know-each-other' conversation.
We woke up early the next day, to sneak down to The Clear Place with our head torches. As the sun rose we were greeted with a spectacular sunrise and a stunning view of Balls Pyramid. After a hearty breakfast at the Anchorage, we set off up the Goat Track to give us a taste of what was expected for Mt Gower.
Think steep climbs, rope pulls and a cave with an incredible view. Wow!
As our first full day drew to a close, we split off into groups to explore the island. For me that meant one of my most favourite things in the world – a glass bottom boat and an opportuning to swim with turtles!
On this adventure we met Anchor, an 80 year old turtle - chilling in his home next to an old sea plane chain (the only way to fly to the island before the runway was built in 1975.) We swapped stories that night of our different adventures over dinner at the golf club - the 'Tour de France' girls had enjoyed biking around the island while others had fed the fish at Ned's or just enjoyed the down time for which the island is famous for.
The next morning, we climbed the brilliant Mt Eliza. Although not as high as Goat Track, the 20,000 steps rewarded us with some sweeping views of the north end of the island.
Nothing quite says awesome like a cup of tea at the top of a summit!
A few of the girls (nicknamed 'The Hypers') took off in front to do two more summits - Malabar and Kim's Lookout. We had great ambitions of a few more climbs that arvo but the rain thwarted our plans...
Ex-cyclone Debbie had arrived in all her glory!
A card game with a censored name saved the afternoon. The undertone was very sombre though as we all knew just what all that rain meant - climbing Mt Gower (our main reason for the trip) the next day was not looking good.
At 6:15am we were awoken with confirmation that nobody was going up the mountain. Safety took precedence and as disappointed as we all were, a substitute challenge was put forward and we all accepted with great enthusiasm. We were to trek up to a high waterfall on lower Mt Gower where there was no track and conditions were extremely slippery. We set off after our local guide Jack (who doesn't wear shoes ever apparently - even up Mt Gower) assuring him we were 'Wild Women' not mild women!
The climb was crazy - everything was slippery so the good old bum sliding technique came in good use.
The thundering waterfall was incredible and was made even more picturesque by the gloomy weather that surrounded us… we really did feel like adventurers.
The next day brought with it more changed plans. Flights were cancelled and according to Qantas, we weren’t going to be returning to the island until 11 April (a week and a half away!) Mild panic set in as we prioritised who would get on the next available charter flights (to Port Macquarie only.)
I decided I would get a charter flight home and rent a car to drive home Sydney. I’ve been on a small plane before but not quite in those conditions so taking off in the rain and the wind certainly made for the definition of a bumpy ride.
So many wonderful lessons learnt from our adventure and friendships made. My greatest take-away was seeing what it means to be a wild woman – being part of such an amazing group of women who enthusiastically embraced every challenge (summit, weather or other!)
Here’s to returning to Lord Howe to take on Mt Gower and many more!