Remote Island Paradise - Lord Howe Island, Australia - Tasman Sea South Pacific | QF QantasLink Dash 8 -200 - Part 1 | BNE - LDHBackground to the Trip
I had never seriously thought about visiting Lord Howe Island – that is, until I flew past it on a flight from NLK – SYD in 2015. I mentioned in that subsequent trip report on A.net that when I happened to look up from my book, and down at the Tasman Sea, I saw a beautiful crescent shaped island with its natural lagoon – stunning – I must go there! This trip then came along a bit sooner than expected, and 2016 was the year.
We booked a package deal through a travel agency in the new year 2016. The original plan was to go for five days in September, but the type of accommodation we wanted was in short supply. Turns out this was a blessing, as we managed to get what we wanted, for seven days in August, at a cheaper rate.
It can also be hard to get available flights to LDH due to limited tourism numbers (maximum 400 at any one time on the island); small aircraft – the DHC -200, and limited flights (weather pending) – daily (or most days) from Sydney and weekends from Brisbane and/or Sydney.
Our plans were finalised in January, and the tickets were issued in July after the fully paid up package deal was finalised in June. There were no issues at all during this process. LDH is a domestic flight so it was quite straight-forward and no hassle, once the details were confirmed.
I don’t normally take out travel insurance for domestic flights, but this was a package deal and at more expense, and now, in hindsight, travel insurance to LDH or a remote island is a must, as the incidence of the flight been cancelled is around a one in three odds.
We met a couple on the island who did not take up travel insurance and were stranded in SYD for two days waiting to fly out, therefore with some out of pocket with expenses unforeseen, only a portion of which were covered by the airline. Risk management – take out travel insurance if you visit LDH.
So I then linked the package deal flights to my QF app (rather than an integrated at time of booking like I normally would for a direct self-service booking).
I am the first to say, I don’t (like to) compare travel destinations - and take them for what they are, but I am going to evaluate here. Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island are often spoken about together. A said, we did Norfolk Island in 2015, and so I would like to mention it also in this trip report now that I’ve been to both. Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island is a crescent-shaped volcanic remnant in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, 600 kilometres (370 miles) directly east of mainland Port Macquarie, and about 900 kilometres (560 miles) south-west of Norfolk Island.
It is around 10 km long and between 2.0 km and 0.3 km wide with an area of 14.55 square kilometres, 3.98 square kilometres of that comprises the low-lying developed part of the island. The population is around 300 permanent residents. Cars are restricted - so bicycles are the best way to get around the island.
The Lord Howe Island Group is part of the Australian state of New South Wales. The island's standard time zone is UTC+10:30, or UTC+11 when daylight saving time applies. That puts it half an hour ahead of the Australian mainland. The currency is the Australian dollar.
Along the west coast there is a sandy semi-enclosed sheltered coral reef lagoon. Most of the population lives in the north, while the south is dominated by forested hills rising to the highest point on the island, Mount Gower (875 metres or 2,871 feet). The Lord Howe Island Group comprises 28 islands, islets and rocks.
The first reported sighting of Lord Howe Island took place on 17 February 1788, when Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball, commander of the Armed Tender HMS Supply
was en-route from Botany Bay to found a penal settlement on Norfolk Island.
On the return journey, Ball sent a party ashore on Lord Howe Island to claim it as a British possession.
Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball, named the island Lord Howe Island after Earl Richard Howe, First Lord of the Admiralty.
It subsequently became a provisioning port for the whaling industry, and was permanently settled in June 1834. When whaling declined, the 1880s saw the beginning of the worldwide export of the endemic kentia palms, which remains a key component of the island's economy. The other continuing industry, tourism, began after World War II ended in 1945.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) records the Lord Howe Island Group as a World Heritage Site of global natural significance.
Most of the island is virtually untouched forest, with many of the plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.
Other natural attractions include the diversity of the landscapes, the variety of upper mantle and oceanic basalts, the world's southernmost barrier coral reef, nesting seabirds, and the rich historical and cultural heritage. (Source: Wikipedia, 2016).
Prior to the flight, I spent a few days in Brisbane. August (winter) in Brisbane for southern, cold-climate people is just the best. The trees have leaves on them, and also beautiful colourful flowers – I think I repeated myself a few times when there, when I said, that it is hard to realise it is actually winter when you’re in Queensland.
With this being my second visit to the Sunshine State, with a longer stay this time, I had opportunities to travel locally in the few days we had before departing on our trip. This involved a trip along the Bruce Highway, to Maroochydore, Caloundra, which are all part of the Sunshine Coast. While densely populated areas in this day and age, they were still nice touristy places, with white sand and pleasant outdoor winter weather. Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper. QF2258 - Brisbane Domestic Airport Terminal D (BNE) to Lord Howe Island Airport (LDH).
Flight time: approximately 1 hour 45 minutes + add on 30 minutes for the time zone difference.
We had checked in the day before, so it was typical Queensland, not rushing about for anything or anyone, as we got our lift to the airport mid-morning for a midday flight, with plenty of time to make our way from home to the flight leisurely, which is the whole point of a trip where time is not important in the larger scheme of things. The Bag Drop and security was not busy so that process was pleasantly quick.
For this trip, I visited the Qantas Club Lounge for the first time, as a guest. The Lounge at BNE was quite large and not really busy – albeit not having a lot to compare it to so far.
The breakfast menu was out. Now I had been to both Qantas Club and a Qantas Business Class Lounge, I could see that the former was more basic, as I had been briefed - no scrambled egg and croissant here, that I enjoyed a few days ago in Canberra. Ham, cheese tomato toasties, and self-service tea and coffee I helped myself to. Not that that is a problem, I had just never explored the Lounges prior to 2015 so didn’t know how they were tailored to the customer or what they offered.
The final days of the 2016 Rio Olympics were on. The day menu came out during the morning and there was a nice salad on offer. We were there for two hours, making the most of the time and using the Wi-Fi on our devices for the last time that week, telling people who didn’t already know on social media where we were off to, and please don’t contact us because we’re off the grid, sense of relief really. Go retro lifestyle!
I took a few photos but this was the only discreet one where people’s privacy was not invaded. The Lounge is in an L shape design and definitely gives a sense of space, there seemed to be a lot of walking to do, a good thing. Not a lot of views though.
It was time to go to the gate, which was not far from the Lounge, at Gate 1.
The incoming flight had not yet arrived, so it was time to sit and wait and have some airport watching time. I did not know QantasLink had their own transit buses!
The incoming flight from LDH arrived. Yes, the Dash 8 -200 is small, or short, and I nicknamed it in my mind ‘The Cigar’ from then on. The tail looks large in comparison to the fuselage. I haven’t seen one of these aircraft for a long time, I may have been on one many years ago to and from DPO, but my wait was over to have another flight, on an aircraft type that may not be around for that much longer?
Having learnt on A.net that this is the only aircraft type that QF used to LDH because of the runway length essentially, it has made me keen to now experience what makes this aircraft so important for this route, and also have some thoughts for the future, and what its successor might be.
Although they appear and are of course workhorses of the Qantas / QantasLink fleet, the livery looked faded and neglected – compared to the Q400 and 738.
However, we were buoyed by the fact that a dear family friend who was once an aircraft engineer and had worked on the type, had assured us that it was a great aircraft to fly on and maintain and very reliable, and so I felt reassured – all that water we had to cross for one - seems so much more in a smaller aircraft. Previous crew from the incoming flight.
Photo of our aircraft for the journey, VH-TQX from the A.net database:
I took the following photos from another part of the domestic terminal before the flight from BNE back to CBR, but is shows the embarkation and departure for the LDH flight from another angle.
I looked around the see who else was boarding our flight. Everyone looked relaxed, like I was feeling. As this was a domestic Dash 8 QantasLink flight, but a new destination, essentially it was a flight experience I was very familiar with.
Unlike our 2015 Norfolk Island trip, which was an international ZK A320 flight at the time, and currently is still, although is actually now a domestic flight - via the international terminal, with the international airline.
Norfolk Island was in 2016 – the year after our journey, administratively folded back or ‘overturned’ into the Australian scheme of things after the end of a period of self-rule, much to their chagrin. Lord Howe Island has a much more simplified and straight-forward history and this did show.
Finally, after all the operational preparations were made, our flight was called! We boarded and took our seats at Row 5 (all Economy Class).
The luggage limit on every LDH flight is 14 kilograms checked in and 7 kilograms carry on. The 7 kilograms is standard but the 14 is less than the usual domestic allowance for economy of 23 kilograms, allowing for the smaller aircraft and airport.
They didn't weigh us but they do on the Lord Howe Island departure if the flight will be full (they did indeed do this on our outbound flight, even though it was not full).
There were 36 seats, 9 rows, 2-2 configuration (see ‘Further information and related readings’ at the end of the trip report e.g. Qantas Seat Maps for more information on this).
The flight was not full, and there were about six spare seats. The aircraft was up to the airline’s usual very clean and tidy standard.
The weather was fine, warm and light breeze. We were soon on our way!Another of the small fleet of QantasLink -200, -TQZ.A great view of BNE. Gate 1 is on the far right.
Aerial views of part of BNE’s new parallel runway under construction.Port of Brisbane. Being in a smaller, slower aircraft than a jet, I appreciate the scenery on climb-out and more time to view landmarks like these.The beautiful beach of Moreton Island, and the Coral Sea.
I made an error in my last trip report, and mistook Bramble Bay, (the embayment of) Moreton Bay near BNE, forgive me, I am not a local! So I am careful here to be correct that this is Moreton Island and not North Stradbroke! I need to get to Queensland more often you see.
I was impressed by the refreshments or lunch on offer – up to QantasLink’s usual standard once again, and it was lunchtime, but I wasn’t sure what to expect here, given that it was a flight with weight restrictions and it was a small aircraft. It is always better to be nicely surprised, than have an expectation and be disappointed.
There was also complimentary tea and coffee, soft drink and wine.This meal was just right for the occasion.
We settled into and enjoyed the flight. It got a little cloudy across the Tasman, but the flight was smooth.
I don’t remember much about the seat-belt sign, but I didn’t need to get up during the entire flight. Amazing!
After an announcement from the flight deck, it was also a reminder to change our clocks on our phones and devices. They wouldn’t operate on the island anyway, but it is just one of those things you just do it anyway!
Turns out, the iPhones changed their time anyway, without a tower or satellite signal anyway after we landed and switched off flight mode.
The first of two stages of uncomfortable parts of the flight was when the air temperature got quite hot in the cabin, but it did cool slowly after that. Phew, makes me feel claustrophobic, things like that.
The flight seemed to go really quickly, despite there being very little to look at out the window! Arrival to Lord Howe Island
The island came into view, and soon we were on final approach. We landed from the north heading south (over the lagoon), which is the most often used approach it seems.
Here is a photo from the A.net database which shows the pilot’s view of the final approach:
So this is where the otherwise smooth flight got really bumpy! It seemed to happen all of a sudden and took some pax by surprise. Of course, one woman screamed – the obligatory shriek, which didn’t make the duration any more comfortable for the rest of us.
No need to worry we found out later, apparently it is quite normal (the turbulence). I did hear (eavesdrop) and also got the general impression that the majority of the pax where not used to travelling in a smaller turboprop aircraft and this might have been unsettling as well. But hey, this is not St Barts! (Saint Barthélemy in the Caribbean).We made it down! At least that is how we were feeling!
We disembarked and made the short walk to the terminal. Our host was waiting to collect us and drive us to our accommodation, which was about five to ten minutes away, with the speed limit being 25 km/h.
The mini buses or people-movers are probably the most common type of vehicle on the island, for the purposes of driving tourists around, particularly after dark, or when giving groups of people lifts to and from the airport or to the dining venues and back.
On the way we were given an introductory talk about the island and a short tour. Our accommodation was at the other end of the island so there was time for this. We were the only ones on the bus.
We were really pleased with our accommodation, and we settled in.View from our accommodation.
It didn’t take long to say, what is that thing up on the hill, is that …a plane wreck?!
Not long after this, we saw people walking up there. Later that day, before dinner, we eventually found the track ourselves, which involves going to the beach first – in the other direction. Thankfully then, further up, the ground did not get too muddy, as the walk was only for the able-bodied and sure-footed, and there had been cattle about as well leaving not so little messages (cow pats).
At the start of the short walk there was some information.By the way, the brush and dip (for shoes) in the background was a quarantine and biosecurity measure.
Biosecurity was not pushed upon us during our stay, I don’t know if there are peaks and troughs of vigilance and practice with regard to how strictly it is enforced at any one time, but it seemed to me that it was under a high degree of control at the time of the visit.
The opportunity to see a plane wreck, or some of, in situ, was not something to see very often and it was a sombre and quiet experience.View back to the accommodation.View looking south.
That evening, our host gave us and other visitors a lift to the Bowling Club, which, along with the Golf Club, has the best meals on the island IMHO.
The accommodation has satellite TV, like Norfolk Island, which I learnt was called VAST (Viewer Access Satellite Television), a satellite-delivered, broadcasting service for people in remote areas, which has a few channels / stations, think back to circa 1999 (Australia) – and offered both government and commercial, which is all that is needed here.
It also answered my question on Norfolk Island about why the commercials are all from remote Western Queensland and Central Australia.
It was good to have this, as the evenings were dark, the mornings were for some relaxation and slow start to the day, the weather isn’t always good for being outdoors, and it was the only way to know what was going on in the outside world.Day 1 – Settling in and touring around
The next morning, our first full day, we visited the Lord Howe Island Museum and the adjoining Coral Cafe. Both were definite repeat visits throughout the stay and very enjoyable stops. Then we got our transport for the week, bicycle hire, and visited the local supermarket to get some supplies, then rode home.
The supermarkets, yes, there is more than one, or they really are a general store, is expensive to shop in, but you expect that on a remote island, and buy accordingly.
Money slips through your hands very easily here, and cash is preferred. Electronic transactions are available but not everywhere. We were advised to take cash, but still had to withdraw cash while there. A week is an advisable balance for touring and seeing and trip budget planning as the high daily costs of staying on the island cannot be overlooked when planning a holiday to Lord Howe Island.
The weather so far we were lucky with, mid-teens Celsius to low twenties, light winds! Cool but warm – a pleasant start. Given that, it was time to also go and book a snorkelling trip on the lagoon for during the week, but we were advised by the friendly tour operator that it must be soon - while the weather is favourable! So Monday (Day 2) it was to be.
The afternoon involved going on a leisurely hike – or so we thought, five kilometres return, on the Max Nicholls Memorial Track, via Old Settlement Beach, over a hill with a well-made track with steps, to North Beach, which was the beach in the approach photos from the flight.
The track was steep and hard going, and really showed my fitness level which was tested. It was worth it though, to be on North Beach, particularly late on a winter’s day with the light shadows. We saw some kayakers, hey kayaking around would have been easier, except for the things we carried with us perhaps bit awkward via that method.
Had a well-earned rest, but didn't go on to Mt Eliza. We got back at dusk, which was then followed by two days of me not being able to walk properly due to overworked calf muscles. Yikes!
Lord Howe Island can be visited by all ages, but if your mobility and fitness level is average or below, you can’t partake in all the activities, and would probably need to hire a car, which are limited and need planning for. Walking on the flat is fine if the weather is good and you don’t need to carry too much.
Unlike Norfolk Island, I lost a bit of weight on this trip. Having a normally healthy, but fairly sedentary lifestyle back home, this environment reminded me of my childhood lifestyle of cycling and burning up kilojoules in a more outdoor active environment, and not worrying too much about diet, in that sense.The start of the walking track to Old Settlement Beach.
The view from above Old Settlement Beach.This is one of the few pieces of information I came across about first / early settlement.
Thank you for reading and/or browsing so far!
I will continue this trip report in Part 2, which I will upload as soon as I can.
The rest of our adventure involves: snorkelling in a marine park; plane-spotting for the flight that was cancelled; rain, rain and more rain; a windy day, but the plane-spotter’s flight arrived; more touring, fish-feeding and kayaking; and of course, the flight back to BNE, and more anecdotes, and the evaluation.
Cheers. = Further information and selected related readings and viewings:
Qantas Seat Maps, QantasLink Dash 8-200, The Qantas Source
, 2016, http://www.theqantassource.com/dash8200seatmap.htm
Qantas Seat Maps, de Havilland Dash 8 (DH2), SeatGuru
, 2016, https://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Qanta ... h_8100.php
Brisbane Airport's New Parallel Runway, Brisbane Airport Australia
, 2016, http://www.bne.com.au/corporate/bne-maj ... lel-runway
Lord Howe Island Airport, Lord Howe Island Board
, 2017, http://www.lhib.nsw.gov.au/infrastructure/airport
Cockpit ride into beautiful Lord Howe Island, Todd Chapman
, 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIlKnSH ... g&index=63
Lord Howe Island approach and landing, Danack
, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOZKKp7 ... g&index=77
QantasLink Dash 8 takeoff at Lord Howe - side view, wiiwheel64
, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVud-Lo ... g&index=76
Lord Howe Island by air, teded38
, 2008, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYrBAND ... s&index=62
By flying boat to Lord Howe Island 1931 – 1974, Hollpolls Sunshine Coast Railway
, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmTVKs1 ... g&index=61
Lord Howe Island, Australia’s best kept secret, The Travel Bug
, 2010, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzfLwQk ... g&index=75
Lord Howe Island, Australia in HD, Selmesfilms
, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kZW4aK ... g&index=74 Previous trip reports:
2016 QF QantasLink 712 CBR-BNE | Business Class: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1343905
2015 Baby Boeings | Qantas 717 CBR-BNE | 738 BNE-CBR: viewtopic.php?t=980379
2015 Back On The Devil: QantasLink 717 and Q400 | CBR-MEL | MEL-DPO | DPO-MEL | MEL-CBR: viewtopic.php?t=979899
2015 Norfolk Island, NZ A320 International & ATR72-600 VA Domestic | Part 1 | CBR-SYD-NLK: viewtopic.php?t=979527
2015 Norfolk Island, NZ A320 International & ATR72-600 VA Domestic | Part 2 | NLK-SYD-CBR: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=979615
2014 QF QantasLink 717 Trip Report | CBR-MEL: https://www.airliners.net/aviation-forum ... ain/262687