Lord Howe, we did it!

By Lisa Marshall | Director Wild Women On Top 

From the minute you land at the small airstrip and see the lush, tropical mountainside of Mt Gower and Lidgbird, you know you have found paradise. You are in a secluded utopia, the absence of cell phone service forcing you to disconnect from the city and simply exist in the present – surrounded by a natural wonderland.

How liberating that feels.

A sunset walk down to Ned's Beach on the day of arrival was the perfect beginning to our adventure. As we waded in the crystal clear waters at the shoreline, we were surrounded by the most colourful fish. We purchased a cup of fish food from the dispenser - an old candy machine, and before we knew it we were amongst a feeding frenzy – fish darting back and forth around our feet.

Although we had come to Lord Howe to walk and discover her beautiful mountainsides, this first encounter enlightened us to another magical world that awaited beneath the turquoise waters. We jumped off the back of the boat, snorkelling with Galapagos sharks, a colourful array of fish and the most magnificent of coral gardens. It's hard to describe the bright green, purple, yellow, red and the gorgeous blue staghorn corals that sit together, it truly is Australia’s little Galapagos.

That afternoon we adventured up to Goat House Cave – a magnificent rocky outcrop that rewards those who climb its rocky trail with a stunning panorama of the islands beauty. Looking back towards the main part of the island, balancing precariously on a rope around the perimeter trail, you get the first glimpse of the famous Balls Pyramid, jutting out of the ocean like a piece of rock art in the middle of nowhere.

The trail too, was a reward in itself, like most of the treks on the island, shady and peaceful, its route full of bird life and decorated by beautiful tropical palm trees and ferns.

We finished our climb just after sunset and who awaited us, but the local policeman, who kindly taxied us back to our accommodation, telling us stories of the island – where life is lived simply, surrounded by a feeling of peace and tranquillity.

After a night of relaxation and a team dinner prepared at our comfortable accommodation at Hideaway, the great Mt Gower awaited us early the next morning – the magnificent mountain that extends far above, watching over the island.

As we began the steep accent, the cloud like a blanket would roll in and then away, giving us brief periods of sunlight dappled through the lush jungle, then misty, wet patches of drizzle as we got nearer the cloud forest. Whether it was scaling the ‘low road’ – a trail just wide enough to walk on or pulling yourself up rocky ledges, our efforts could not have been better rewarded with the magical garden of lichen and moss and bright green foliage of the cloud forest.

A brief shower drips through the trees and cool wind blows but as we get to the summit and sit down to see the view below and eat our lunch, the cloud lifts magically and the sun comes out for our team photo on top. 

It was truly magical.

After a tricky descent of rock hopping and abseiling, we find ourselves back where we had begun 9 hours earlier. Having experienced the exhilaration, the fear, the challenge, the physical exertion of climbing Mt Gower, we felt on top of the world - filled with a happy exhaustion. The day was topped off with a delicious dinner at local restaurant, the Anchorage, where we indulged in the stories of the day, reliving the magical, exhilarating and scary moments one by one.

It's what I love about climbing mountains: they can teach you many things in a matter of hours, they humble you, they encourage you to get fitter and stronger, to step outside your comfort zone again and again! Lord Howe Island is the perfect getaway to immerse yourself in nature, and take yourself out of your comfort zone all in one weekend!

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