Vagabond Crew Dre & Nush - Lord Howe Island

Vagabond Crew Dre & Nush - Lord Howe Island

Written by Nush Freedman 
Imagery by Andre Rerekura

Lord Howe Island, what a magical and pristine part of Australia. Just 600km out to sea from Port Macquarie this extinct volcano is every adventurer's paradise. We had the pleasure of exploring this 11km island over summer and we now can not wait to return.

The excitement starts as you jump into the small 6 seater plane and travel over the Pacific ocean to get to Lord Howe. As the island comes into view the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. Mountain terrain and Balls Pyramid the tallest sea stack in the world tower above the lagoon where a fringing reef displays sparkling turquoise water.

Once on land, we were met by Lisa and Aaron the owners of Prodive Lord Howe who welcomed us like family and who we were to work with over the next couple of weeks. Meeting these guys was where the true adventure began. There wasn't a day we weren't in the water with the Prodive Team and they showed us what the island truly has to offer.

We ventured out to Balls Pyramid which is around 23km South East from the main island and is the home to some of the most spectacular diving in the world. Schools of tuna and trevally flew past whilst we were descending for our dive down into the underwater caves around the sea stack. 30m down was a whole new world entirely. An array of critters such as crayfish, eels and lionfish live inside small cracks and crevices in the cave walls which you light up with a torch. Bright coloured sponges and corals coat the walls of the caves and you can spot large schools of bait fish and endemic species such as the three banded butterfly fish swimming around.

Our biggest highlight however, was actually on the trip home from Balls Pyramid when Liana, the 4 year old daughter of Prodive owners Aaron and Lisa got to swim with dolphins for the first time. Liana, a true ocean lover couldn't wait to jump into the open ocean off the Prodive boat Pinnacle which is a feat for any age let alone a four year old! Watching her confidence swimming with the dolphins was so inspiring and something we think all on board will remember forever. The dolphins were more than happy to dance and play around us with clicks and whistles which I’m pretty sure were all meant for Liana.

Another unique experience we got to encounter with the Prodive crew was sunset freedives with large schools of Galapagos Whaler sharks which are endemic to the Lord Howe area. A short boat ride outside of the lagoon, you can come across large congregations of Galapagos sharks and at some points you can be swimming with as many as 50. These sharks are slow movers and relatively small most being around a metre. We were both completely hypnotised by these sharks and swimming through them was nothing short of a dream especially with the crystal clear waters of Lord Howe and an amazing sunset over your head.

About half way through our time at Lord Howe we jumped on board a project with Marine Parks to help them create a short documentary style video showcasing the unique marine environment of the Island. Lorde Howe is the home to the most southerly coral reef in the world as well as a very unique algal environment. No other reefs like this exist in the world and new species of coral, algae and fish are constantly been discovered around the island. The reason for this unique marine environment is the convergence of the warm East Australian current with the cool waters of the Southern temperate Tasman current which creates a mix of temperate and tropical species many of which are endemic to the area.

This project was a dream for the both of us and it meant we got to spend even more time in the water trying to capture as many creatures as possible for our documentary, which on Lord Howe isn't hard because you are surrounded by marine life. We spent the rest of our days out on the Prodive boat or snorkelling off shore trying to record as many species as possible some included green turtles, flying fish and Meyens stingrays.

We also got to spend a few days documenting research that was being conducted within the marine park. This included studying the behaviours of the endemic Mcculloch's anemonefish with scientists Anna Scott, Marian Wong and Mandy Lee and helping tag Galapagos sharks with scientists Jonathan Mitchell and Victoria Camilieri- Asch who were tracking the movements of the sharks around the islands using acoustic sounding equipment.

On the days when we had to dry out our gills, we explored the beautiful mountain areas of the islands which are filled with beautiful hiking trails. As you walk along you are surrounded by ferns, mosses and a variety of different trees which are filled with the many bird species you find on the island.

Lord Howe has so much to offer and this blog post has already gone way to long but we could write endless amounts about this unique and special part of Australia. The marine life is extraordinary, the people on the island are friendly and welcoming, the towering mountains never cease to amaze you and there are amazing conservation practices in place to keep this paradise as it is. Lord Howe we will be back and hopefully after reading this we have persuaded you to take a visit too!


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