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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Heavenly Paradise

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 15 September 2016 | Views [428]

Disappointed in myself that I’ve written nothing of late, I decided to give myself something to write about: a journey to the world’s most beautiful island. Every year for my birthday I like to shout myself a journey to someplace special. For my 29th it was Seattle, and for my 30th I climbed Mt. Fuji. My gift to myself for making it to 32 is Lord Howe Island and after three grueling months in New Zealand, I deserve it! Last night I barely slept at all, and Alison saw me off at Oatley Station as I went to the airport excitedly. The plane is a 36-seater Dash 8 Bombardier turboprop and baggage restrictions are rather tight. I’m allowed 23 kg of checked luggage but no more than 14 kg in one bag. Having a lot of glass doesn’t help things much but at the counter they said as long as it doesn’t appear I have a substantial amount I’ll be fine. There is no mobile reception on Lord Howe so I was catching up on last-minute phone calls. It’ll be nice having my phone on flight mode for nearly two weeks. Though I’m a nervous flier I get excited when I fly on a plane I’ve never been on. My boarding pass nearly blew away as I boarded the small plane. As the propellers started to turn I got excited! I was on my way to another destination of my dreams. I was served a ham and cheese sandwich with pickles but I would not eat that in a million years so I figured I’d save it. If one person on the island doesn't eat it, somebody else will. With a couple glasses of wine in my system I could make out a faint bit of this heavenly paradise, and just after 2 PM we touched down on one of Australia’s most exotic and far-flung locales. Stepping off the plane I had a huge smile and nearly cried, feeling like this is my wedding day. Darcelle would great me with a hearty hug!

As with Norfolk, Lord Howe is not (regarded as) a place for backpackers or budget travellers. Tourist numbers are limited to 400 at any given time, camping is prohibited and there is no budget accommodation; the cheapest hotel is about $160 per night. The flight to and from the island has to be one of the world’s most expensive flights for the duration. Immediately I knew doing Lord Howe on the cheap wouldn’t be easy but still possible, so I started to work my magic. I scoped out the addresses of four locals and wrote letters; not email but snail mail. Letter writing has become (sadly) a lost art in today’s digital world and there’s something unique about a letter having to travel across the seas to reach its destination. Instead of a phone bill, they would receive a handwritten letter from me asking if I could stay in their home. With my proverbial fishing line cast, Darcelle bit the hook. She only recently moved back to Lord Howe after living in Melbourne for several years and offered to host me. Since I’m staying in her home I was entitled to a “local” ticket price. Though still not cheap, I save on accommodation as well as the flight.

Lord Howe has a population of only 350 and is tiny, therefore you can’t get many things on the island. Last night I went on a big shopping excursion, stocking up on celery, sweet potatoes, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, spring onions, smoked cheese, five different chocolate bars, pizza bases and cheese, two bottles of wine, and all sorts of other things. Since I’m leaving for Samoa from New Zealand, I left nearly all of my gear over there and came here with a nearly empty bag so I made a point to fill it as full as possible. It’s common on small islands like Norfolk and Lord Howe for people to know someone going to the mainland for a week and then they say “hey, could you bring me back fresh blueberries?”

When I spoke at Norfolk Island Central School a couple of years ago, one of the students raised her hand asking “have you ever been to Lord Howe?” Only the day before had I seen my first photos of the island. Ever since, I was itching to come here. As “Darc” took me on a short tour I could see this is truly paradise even though the weather is shit today. Darc is a single mum to a 1-year daughter but as on Norfolk, a single mum doesn’t mean hardships with babysitting, etc. She allows her daughter to roam free and she was in the arms of several locals today. After putting all the food away and settling in I went with Darc to a fundraiser for a family whose house burnt down recently. Many locals were there. Darc went to work whilst I went walking in search of a few geocaches. There are only 11 of them on Lord Howe, including an EarthCache at Ball’s Pyramid so I’m hoping to do an excursion out there. Late in the afternoon I only found one geocache but I was really tired tonight. I only slept about two hours last night and lugging around all my bags only added to my tiredness.

This is my introduction to the world’s most beautiful island. Welcome to Lord Howe. 

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