Visit the historic village of Carcoar in the NSW Central Tablelands. Take a walking tour of the preserved 19 century buildings set amongst picturesque green hills.
The tiny town of Carcoar can be found 260 km West of Sydney, and approximately 40 minutes equidistant from Bathurst, Orange and Cowra.
The third-oldest settlement west of the Blue Mountains, Carcoar is a beautiful spot to visit year-round, but particularly during autumn when the leaves are changing colour.
Nestled in a valley alongside the Belubula River, Carcoar is an historic gem with a large number of well preserved 19th century buildings. A walking tour is the best way to enjoy the town, with maps available from the National Trust.
The oldest building in the village is believed to be the 1849 convict-built stables of Stoke House, which is now a museum full of interesting historic gems to peruse.
Highlights also include well-preserved Georgian buildings along the main street, St Paul’s Anglican Church built in 1848 and the century-old courthouse.
The buildings now house museums, shops and cafes, with the highest capita of museums to people of anywhere in Australia. If you wish to stay the night, Carcoar has a wide range of accommodation options, from restored heritage buildings to boutique B&Bs.
Carcoar was settled by Europeans in 1821. There was extensive bushranging in the area particularly after the discovery of gold (which is still mined commercially in the area). The first daylight bank robbery in Australia occurred in Carcoar in 1863, at Carcoar’s Commercial Bank. Today, the building is home to a private toy museum with over 2000 toys of various kinds on display.
To reach Carcoar, take the turn-off on the Mid-Western Highway, the A43.
Milthorpe Day Trip: How To Spend A Day In Millthorpe
The perfect day trip in the Orange region, Millthorpe is a heritage-listed village with historical buildings, restaurants, shops and wineries. There are plenty of ways to spend a lovely day in Milthorpe.
A stroll through Milthorpe is like taking a step back in time to the 1900s in regional NSW. The cobblestoned streets are lined with relatively unchanged 19th century buildings that now house contemporary restaurants, boutique homewares stores and charming accommodation.
For a detailed look at Millthorpe’s past, take a tour of the Golden Memories Museum, or download the village walking map to your phone and take a gentle walk around the streets while soaking in its charm.
We enjoyed dining at the Railway Station Cafe and browsing the Millthorpe Chocolate shop inside. The Millthorpe Railway Station is a fine example of 19th century building that has been well maintained.
Millthorpe Chocolates is a locally grown business using the finest Belgian Couverture Chocolate and ingredients. The chocolate is hand tempered and is hand crafted.
Millthorpe Chocolates is a locally grown business using Belgian Couverture Chocolate. The chocolate is tempered and crafted by hand.
There is a lovely lolly shop on the main street that is impossible to walk past without buying something.
How to get to Millthorpe:
The historic town is 20 minutes’ drive southeast of Orange, 10 minutes from Orange Airport, and 30 minutes west of Bathurst. The drive from Sydney is 3 hours 30 minutes.
By train: the Western XPT arrives every day from Sydney at 11.48am on its way to Dubbo, then departs at 4.11pm. Book tickets online with NSW Trainlink or by phone 13 22 32.
Orange is a large regional centre with art galleries, wineries, hikes and leisure activities. There are plenty of things to do in Orange on a regional NSW road trip. Here are three of our favourite discoveries:
Lake Canobolas is a man-made reservoir located near Orange, a popular spot for recreation since the 1970s.
Cycling, sailing, canoeing, walking, swimming, triathlons and dragon boating are some of the sports/activities held here.
Kids will love the Apex Adventure Playground on the eastern bank.
Bring a picnic or bbq lunch or grab a bite from the Lakehouse kiosk.
There is a walking track around the lake that is great for bird watching and wildlife spotting.
Be sure to walk over the top of the reservoir, it’s a great view of the water gushing over the side.
Lake Canobolas is open daily from early morning until sunset. Dogs are permitted within the park but must be on a lead.
Heifer Station Winery
The Heifer Station was built on land that was once one of the biggest cattle stations in Orange. In 2016, Heifer Station opened their cellar door in a 100 year old wool shed, nestled in a beautiful garden with farm yard animals dotted around (or free roaming).
This bakery is a must-visit – if you can manage to find it! Racine Bakery can be found behind a strip of shops, with the entrance in the Woolworths car park. They sell the most delicious bread, cakes, pastries, sandwiches, salads, pies and sausage rolls, all hand-made on site.
Entry via woolworths carpark, 166B Summer St, Orange
Enjoy the sparkling water of Avoca Beach, the perfect spot on the Central Coast for families (and dogs!).
Located about 30 minutes from Gosford, Avoca Beach is a popular spot for locals and Sydney-siders. Avoca Beach stretches 1.7km, with a beautiful shallow rock pool at the southern end.
There are plenty of cafes to enjoy a hearty brunch at the southern end also. The cafes all feature outdoor seating, making this a fab spot for families and dogs to enjoy casual meals right by the water.
We love to grab snacks or smoothies from the Avoca Beach Kiosk next to the life saving club, or a delicious meal at Point Cafe.
Point Cafe offers all-day breakfast, a kids’ menu and a variety of dishes to suit dietary requirements.
There is a large, fenced playground behind the surf life saving club, and a grassy park next to it.
A large bathroom block is located next to the playground.
Keep walking past the rock pool and you’ll find a rock shelf with more little rock pools that are great for exploring.
For more aquatic fun, hire a kayak, pedal boat or stand-up paddleboards from Aquafun Avoca Lake and splash around the lagoon.
The official off-leash dog area is from the surf club parking lot down to the North Avoca end of the beach on the opposite side of the lagoon. This is technically the space between two beaches, Avoca Beach and North Avoca Beach.
Avoca Lake backs on to the beach. Hire kayaks, pedal boats and stand-up paddleboards from Aquafun Avoca Lake and splash about the sparkling waterway or paddle to the large island in the middle of the tranquil lagoon.
If the weather isn’t in your favour, catch a movie at the Avoca Beach Picture Theatre, which opened in 1948 and is a lovely little single screen vintage theatre.
The fourth Sunday of every month you’ll find the Avoca Beachside Markets creating some extra bustle in town, with lots of local food and crafts on offer.
Avoca Beach NSW is an easy 90 minute drive north of Sydney and an 80m drive south from Newcastle. To reach it by public transport is a bit of an effort but do-able – catch the train from Central to Gosford or Newcastle to Gosford, then change to a bus to take you to Avoca Beach. It will take around 2 hours to reach Avoca Beach via public transport.
I’d suggest staying a few days either at Avoca Beach or in the general area to explore all of the Central Coast gems.
Avoca Beach NSW is located at the end of a long no-through road. There is limited parking so allow time to find a spot if you are on a schedule, or arrive early to ensure an easy park.
Enjoy crushed cider using Bilpin, Blue Mountains apples and woodfired pizza at Hillybilly Cider Shed.
Hillbilly Cider is the creation of Shane and Tessa McLaughlin, who moved to an orchard in Biulpin in 2007 and were inspired by their surrounds to brew this now local favourite Blue Mountains cider.
Hillbilly Cider is the only cider in the world that uses the Julie™ apple, the first new commercial apple discovered in the Sydney/Blue Mountains area since the Granny Smith apple 100 years ago! The Julie™ was a chance seedling discovered by Bill and Julie Shields at their orchard located next door to the Hillbilly Cider shed.
Drop by the Hillbilly Cider Shed to try their cider and also to enjoy some very fine woodfired pizza.
There is plenty of outdoor seating and a large grassed area for kids to run around. Dogs are welcome!
During winter, there is a log fire burning inside the shed to keep visitors cosy and warm.
Bookings are always advised, but you can also drop by and grab whatever table you can find that’s free.
The pizzas are Neapolitan-style pizzas. All bases and sauce are made at the Hillybilly Cider Shed. Gluten-free bases are available, as it a vegan pizza.
We highly enjoyed Margheritas (Neapolitan tomato sauce, Fior di latte, Grana Padano & fresh basil, $19) and a Pepperoni (Neapolitan tomato sauce, Fior di latte and beef pepperoni, $23).
Hillbilly Cider 2230 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin Hours: Mon-Thur 10am-4pm, Fri-Sun 10am-6pm. Wood fired pizzas available from 11.30am to eat in or take away. https://hillbillycider.com.au/
Visiting Breenhold Gardens in Mount Wilson, Sydney
Enjoy spring and autumn colours at the heritage-listed Breenhold Gardens in Mount Wilson, a two-hour drive from the Sydney CBD. The Garden Estate of Breenhold is one of the most extensive privately owned garden properties in Australia.
Breenhold Gardens are only open during autumn and spring to the public, however are also available throughout the year for private hire for weddings, film shoots and special events. The Great Gatsby was filmed here!
The garden estate is comprises of 45 hectares of gardens, parkland and native bushland. It was the creation of the late Thomas Breen (Snr) and his wife Charlotte, who commenced its planting and landscaping in 1965.
Breenhold Garden has grown and developed over the years, and now includes thousands of exotic and indigenous trees and flowering shrubs from every continent.
Set aside a good few hours to leisurely explore the six stone walled gardens, bush trails and forest walks. There are extensive lawns for playing and picnicking.
We visited during autumn, when the deciduous trees of Breenhold Gardens were in full colour. Japanese maple, beech, birch, oak and many varieties of pines and cedars have been planted alongside native tree ferns and eucalypts.
Spring is also a beautiful time to visit Breenhold Garden, when hundreds of flowering azaleas and rhododendrons, as well as Japanese cherry trees, magnolia and dogwood fill the estate with beautiful colour once again.
Breenhold Gardens are dog-friendly! Well behaved dogs are permitted to enter but must stay on a leash at all times.
There are very basic bathroom facilities available at Breenhold Gardens, but no cafe / shop to purchase food or drinks. I highly suggest bringing your own picnic from home and a blanket to spread out on, or stopping by the Grumpy Baker in Bilpin on the way past to pick up some of the most delicious pastries you’ll find in Sydney.
You can also do what we did and drop by Hillbilly Cider for pizza afterwards. It’s also super dog-friendly!
Visit Australia’s only combined zoo and aquarium and get up close to Aussie icons and endangered species at Canberra National Zoo & Aquarium.
Canberra National Zoo & Aquarium is spread over 47 picturesque acres. The animals have large enclosures and keepers who are dedicated to their care and enrichment. Animals living at the Canberra National Zoo & Aquarium have either been rescued and unable to be returned back to the wild or were bred as part of a regional breeding program.
The National Zoo & Aquarium contributes heavily in a large number of breeding programs designed to help save a number of animals from extinction. They also raise money through their National Zoo & Aquarium Conservation Trust (NZACT) to donate to a number of local and overseas conservation initiatives and charities.
NZACT (the National Zoo & Aquarium Conservation Team) is a volunteer organisation that works with the National Zoo & Aquarium to save some of the worlds most endangered species from extinction through breeding programs and educating zoo visitors as well as fundraising and donating to a number of local and overseas organisations, including Free the Bears, The Snow Leopard Trust, the RSPCA, 21st Century Tiger and Traffic.
The National Zoo & Aquarium is larger than it looks, so set aside the better part of a day to explore it all.
Be sure to check out daily keeper activities to learn more about the animals as they receive a feed or enrichment. On weekends and during school holidays, additional keeper talks are added to the schedule. Visitors also have the chance to meet or feed some of our the animals.
We did a tour of the National Zoo & Aquarium and really enjoyed learning from one of the experts about the animals who lived there.
Our keeper called every animal by name, down to the geese, and described their personality and individual circumstances such as how they came to be living there, as well as giving us further information about the species in the wild. It’s clear that these animals are very loved and cared for by their keepers.
The National Zoo & Aquarium has a large, excellent playground that will occupy kids for hours, so be sure to visit at the end of the day when you’ve seen everything else that you’ve got on your agenda.
Canberra National Zoo & Aquarium Scrivener Dam, Yarralumla, Canberra, ACT 2611 Hours: Daily, Open 9:30am–5:00pm every day of the year, except Christmas Day. https://nationalzoo.com.au
Stroll through the serene Lennox Gardens on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra. Lennox Gardens is the perfect spot for a relaxing family picnic or bbq with plenty of green space, shady trees, and the landscaped Beijing Garden and Canberra Nara Peace Park to explore.
Tucked away in a quiet spot on the foreshore, Lennox Gardens are a little gem of a spot. With a stunning backdrop including Black Mountain, the Brindabella Ranges and the city centre, Lennox Gardens are also where hot air balloons launch, so if you’re up early you might see them taking off and flying over the lake.
Lennox Gardens is home to two landscaped gifts from Japan and China; each celebrating the sister city links between Canberra, Beijing and Japan’s ancient capital, Nara.
The Beijing Garden is designed in the imperial Chinese garden style of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). It features a traditional Chinese welcome gate, Chinese stone sculptures and a Chinese pavilion.
Canberra Nara Peace Park features a small Japanese themed garden, traditional wooden gate and gazebo, and cherry blossom trees.
Tips for Visiting Oakvale Wildlife Park, Port Stephens
Meet native Australian and exotic animals at Oakvale Wildlife Park. Hand-feed roaming animals and enjoy the water park or a bbq lunch.
Oakvale Wildlife Park is 100% Australian owned and operated, and has remained a family business since opening in 1979 as a farm by the Samson family.
Set across 25 acres of bushland, Oakvale Wildlife Park strives to help teach visitors about native wildlife and how we can protect it. Over time, the family acquired various Australian wildlife species and decided to dedicate the park to wildlife conservation.
Oakvale has established multiple endangered species breeding programs where they release threatened and endangered species back into the wild for future generations to enjoy.
The park is quite large and entails a fair bit of walking to get around to see all of the animals and exhibits. The animals living at Oakvale Wildlife Park range from Australian native, domestic farm and exotic animals such as koalas, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, goats, sheep, rabbits, alligators and ostriches.
Oakvale has put a lot of thought into the activities available for guests, ensuring that a visit is a whole-day activity. There are free roaming animals to be hand fed, keeper talks, feeding shows, two fenced, shaded playgrounds, free BBQ facilities as well as an onsite cafe, plus the excellent Splash Bay Water Park which is open year-round.
Pick up a schedule when you enter the park in the morning to ensure you don’t miss any of the activities.
Daily at 11.00am & 2.00pm. Bottle feed baby farm animals and an opportunity to milk a cow.
Departing at 11.15am & 2.15pm daily – free.
SHOW TIMES Due to the health and safety of our guests, staff and animals and adhering to strict guidelines we will not be holding keeper talks during the NSW School Holidays.
There is the chance to engage in more intimate and personal animal experiences by purchasing individual Wildlife Animal Encounters.
There is plenty of free parking available, and the park has pathways to provide easy access for prams, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and walkers. The Tractor Trailer Rides provide great assistance for less mobile guests. Disabled toilets and showers are located on-site and there is a JennSwing in the playground (a full support swing seat for children with physical disabilities or special needs).
The Oakvale Cafe is located inside the main entrance and serves a selection of freshly made sandwiches and wraps, burgers and wedges, plus other hot and cold options from 10.30am – 3.00pm.
Oakvale Wildlife Park is Ecotourism certified and ZAA members.
Enjoy a Lord Howe Island holiday, at a natural paradise that can be reached in less than a two-hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane. The world’s southernmost coral reef is a spectacular destination that, once you’ve seen it in person, you’ll long to return to over and over again.
The World Heritage-listed island is often voted as one of the world’s top island destinations for a very good reason – its spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife and limit on visitors makes this breathtakingly beautiful spot feel remote and untouched.
Lord Howe Island is just 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) long and 2.8 kilometres (1.7 miles) at its widest. With only 400 visitors allowed at any time, and just 300 permanent residents, the island never feels busy, even when it’s reached its maximum visitor capacity.
When we visited Lord Howe Island last December it felt to us like the land that time forgot. With the main mode of transport push bikes, the pace on the island is slow, and shoes are optional. There is no mobile phone service on the island, which can feel panic-inducing to imagine, but in reality is a welcome relief from the constant pressure to be available at all times.
To truly unplug and unwind from the fast paced world in which we usually live in Sydney, a week on Lord Howe Island was, for us, just what the doctor ordered.
What makes Lord Howe Island so special
Lord Howe Island was formed after a volcanic eruption seven million years ago. The island became a haven for plants and seabirds, with an abundance of rare flora and fauna including 64 unique species of flowering plants and more than 130 bird species, like the endangered flightless woodhen.
This unique island is made up of 75% protected park preserve, and surrounded by a marine park, making it a pristine paradise that has remained untouched thanks to a century of world-class conservation efforts.
In 1982, The Lord Howe Island Group was UNESCO World Heritage-listed, including the main island, offshore islets and Balls Pyramid, totalling about 1,455 hectares of land. A further 145,000 hectares of marine environment are included in the World Heritage Area.
Arriving on Lord Howe Island is a bit of a “Jurassic Park” moment. The tiny island rises up out of nowhere, in the middle of the ocean, its landscape of mountains, valleys and cliffs largely undisturbed by mankind. Approximately 75% of the islands natural vegetarian remains untouched, similarly is beaches and coral reefs.
Lord Howe Island is tremendously important for its unique flora and fauna. There are over 70 endemic vascular plant species found on the island (plants that transport water), and 241 species of indigenous plants of which 113 or 47 per cent are found no where else in the world.
The island is also a haven for birds, with 207 different bird species recorded as visiting, 32 of which breed on the island, including the endangered Woodhen. The Lord Howe Island Woodhen wanders around the island, unperturbed by people passing it on bikes, the result of a highly successful captive-breeding and rodent eradication programme.
Lord Howe Island is reputed to have more seabird species breeding in higher numbers than anywhere else in Australia, making it a prime spot for twitchers to visit. Bird lovers can be seen lying low in the grass for hours at a time, in search of the perfect bird photograph.
Insects are also in abundance on Lord Howe Island, with more than 1,600 terrestrial insect species having been recorded, approximately 60% of which can be found nowhere else. We were drawn to Lord Howe Island after reading about the Lord Howe Island Phasmid, the world’s largest stick insect. Thought to be extinct, the LHI Phasmid was rediscovered in recent years on Balls Pyramid, a 550 metre high volcanic stack rising from the sea, 23 km from the island.
The life under the sea surrounding Lorde Howe Island is no less spectacular, with over 500 species of fish and 90 different coral species in the marine park off the island’s shores.
Getting to Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island lies approximately 600 km northeast of Sydney and southeast of Brisbane, Australia, at the same latitude as Port Macquarie, NSW. It is part of the state of New South Wales.
The only way to reach Lord Howe Island, other than sailing your own yacht, is by air. QantasLink offers year-round scheduled services, with flights departing from Sydney most days (twice a day in peak season during the week, three times a day on weekends). Direct flights are also available on weekends from Brisbane. Flight time is under two hours.
Eastern Air Services also offer a regular flight schedule with three flights per week from Port Macquarie and a new flight schedule from Newcastle Airport. Eastern Air Services will soon be offering direct flights rom the Gold Coast to Lord Howe Island.
Your accommodation will pick you up from the airport and drop you back again for your return flight home.
This is a big deal and should really be in the biggest text available because it’s in such fine print on the flight booking pages. Each passenger travelling to Lord Howe Island is permitted 14kg per person of checked baggage and 7kg of carry-on baggage.
This is not negotiable! There are strict weight restrictions placed on aircrafts travelling to the Island. While extra luggage may be purchased, there is no guarantee it will make it to the island with your flight. It’s very common for luggage to be offloaded and sent on another flight. In fact, on both of our flights to and from the island, our luggage did not arrive with us. On the flight to the island, our luggage arrived on the afternoon flight thankfully, so we received it later in the day.
On our flight home, however, our luggage was offloaded and was not sent home to us for three days. I highly recommend packing essentials in carry on – like swimmers, sunscreen and hats.
Another tip that needs to be in the biggest text available. Do not book flights until you have booked your accommodation, and absolutely do not fly there without a confirmed accommodation booking.
The tourist bed limit on Lord Howe is capped at 400, and in high season completely books out. I would highly recommend booking as far in advance as possible to get suitable accommodation.
Where to stay on your Lord Howe Island Holiday
The majority of accommodation on Lord Howe Island is villa-like cabins with kitchenettes or kitchens. Which you chose depends on your needs. If you have small kids or are not a keen walker or cyclist, then I suggest staying near the main settlement for easy of getting around.
In the image below, the airport is the yellow star and the accommodation is marked with blue dots.
We stayed in Ebbtide Apartments, comprising of five self-catered villas with an excellent kitchen. We loved Ebbtide and the lovely grassy area surrounding the villas, however it is also at the very top of a steep hill, which should be taken into consideration if biking or walking is difficult for you or your party.
There was no TV in our room so if you desperately need to watch some shows, download them to your phone/iPad or computer beforehand. Most accommodations will have a bookshelf like ours did. I had the most amazing reading week and read about five books.
For an all-inclusive stay, check out Pinetrees, or Arajilla Retreat. For the most luxe, all -inclusive stay, have a look at Capella Lodge.
My recommendation for ease of accessing the island facilities such as the best cafe and coffee shop (The Anchorage), getting groceries and biking around the flat paths, would be to stay near the Anchorage.
Since the majority of accommodation on LHI is self-catering, the groceries deserve their own section. Since the island is part of NSW, you can bring whatever food you like as long as it fits in your luggage allowance. If you have particular dietary requirements, then I highly recommend you doing this.
There are a few options for groceries on Lord Howe Island – all of them are expensive. Thompson’s is the cheapest but has the smallest selection. The Anchorage has the best fruit and daily fresh bread. Joy’s has the largest range but is the most expensive.
There are no plastic bags on Lord Howe Island so bring your own reusable shopping bag, or purchase one of the screen printed reusable canvas bags – they make for great island souvenirs too.
Regarding milk – most of the island uses and sells long-life milk. If you want fresh milk, you will find it at Joys.
Getting around Lord Howe Island
The primary mode of transportation is bicycle. Upon arriving on the island, head straight to Wilson’s Bike Hire (it’s near the main settlement) and hire a bike for your entire stay. There are children’s bikes available as well as bike seats and wagons. Bikes cost us $60 per week per bike.
There are a small amount of cars available for hire if mobility is a challenge for you – call in advance to book.
Guests at Capella Lodge, which is the furthest accommodation from the settlement, can hire a golf cart buggy to drive around the island.
Planning your time on Lord Howe Island
After collecting your bike, head to the Lord Howe Island Museum and Visitors Centre. This is where you can collect detailed weather forecasts, restaurant guide with locations and days/ hours of service, and daily activity guides, as well as lots of info about the island such as maps with walking tracks.
The Lord Howe Island Museum opened in 2002 and has a range of innovative displays on the island’s World Heritage environment, community and history, going back to 1788 when the Island was discovered by HMS Supply of the First Fleet. Covering 166 years of continuous settlement since 1834, the Museum is a great first spot to visit to learn about and appreciate the island’s uniqueness.
At the Lord Howe Island Museum and Visitors Centre you can also find internet access and the Coral Cafe, plus the Tropicbird Museum Shop, which has the best selection of unique Lord Howe souvenirs and gifts.
There are a few restaurants and cafes on Lord Howe Island and in peak season all book out. After picking up your bike and dropping by the Museum and Visitor’s Centre for dining information and a map, the nest thing you should do is plan any eating out you plan to do for the week. Each restaurant and cafe only opens certain days and hours so it requires some planning.
Take a look on the guide and call each restaurant using the landline at your accommodation to book your spot. Your accommodation will transport you where necessary to evening dining reservations, with the restaurant providing return transport.
Our favourite place to dine was the Anchorage, for both lunch and also dinner. It had the most delicious egg dishes, freshly baked muffins and cut fruit, and we ended up eating there daily for one meal, while making the other meals in our apartment.
Dining out on Lorde Howe Island is also expensive, but the location of waterfront dining cant be beat!
Lord Howe Island has activities to suit everyone, from those wanting a relaxing holiday doing nothing to divers and snorkelers, twitchers and hikers. The flight out to the island is one of the most entertaining people watching experiences as the small group will have, like on our flight, luxe travellers, people in mountain trekking boots, families with small children and everyone in between. Lord Howe Island does the impossible – pleases every age and interest group imaginable.
A holiday on Lord Howe Island can include guided tours, fishing, snorkelling, diving, bird watching, water sports, land sports and hiking. You can find a full list of activities available on Lord Howe Island here.
Snorkelling and swimming in the lagoon
You can hire flippers and snorkels for the week at several of the dive shops on the beachfront by the lagoon. We hired ours for $10/day or $30 per week. Child-size snorkels and flippers are available, as are child-size wetsuits.
The lagoon is an easy place for snorkelling, even for kids. There is also an anchored pontoon that is great for kids to climb up onto and then jump off into the ocean.
There are several spots that can be kayaked to, so make a day of it and pack a picnic lunch if you’d like to do some exploring.
We kayaked to Blackburn Island and back, but a popular spot to kayak to is North Head where there is excellent snorkelling. North Head is difficult to reach by foot so kayaking there is a good option. If you kayak to Blackburn Island I suggest taking reef shoes with you as it’s extremely rocky on the shore.
Hire a kayak for $20 per hour, $15 for subsequent hours. We fit two adults and one child in our kayak.
Hand-feeding wild fish on Ned’s Beach
One of the most popular things to do on the island. the wild fish at Ned’s Beach are extremely friendly and will eat fish food from your hand. Food is available from a shack just off the beach, There is an honesty box to put $1 or $2 coins in. Ned’s Beach is also great for swimming and snorkelling.
Hiking one of many walking tracks
Pick up a map from the Visitor’s Centre. There are a surprising number of stunning walks around the island of varying lengths and difficulty levels.
Walks we did:
Malabar to Dawsons Point Ridge: (1.5km) Class 4 and Max Nicholls Memorial Track to North Bay: (1.5km) Class 3 walks combined, which was quite the challenge but gave us spectacular views.
Clear Place: (1.2km return) Class 2 – this one went through the rainforest and included jungle swings.
Little Island Track: (1.4km) Class 2 – this one is flat and easy and wraps around the coastline under Mt Gower. Spectacular.
Bbq on the beach
There are free BBQs set up on the beachfront all over the island. Just BYO food and equipment. The BBQs are very popular at lunchtime and sunset so plan ahead.
Coffee and muffin from the Anchorage
This was our daily routine. The coffee and fresh muffins were amazing.
Sunset on the lagoon
A must-do at least once during your stay on the island.
Watching sea turtles at Old Settlement Beach
We were lucky enough to see sea turtles at Old Settlement Beach. This is their local hangout and can be seen here frequently.
Birds are everywhere! During our December stay we were lucky enough to see terns and their teenage offspring in their thousands at Ned’s Beach. Just amazing. Watching the birds, fearless of humans, nesting with their young was probably the number one highlight of our Lord Howe Island holiday.
When to visit Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island’s climate is mild, year-round. Maximum temperatures on the island hover around 25° celsius throughout summer, dipping to an average of 19° c in winter, while daily minimums range from 20°c in summer falling to around 12-14°c in winter. Basically you can plan your Lord Howe Island holiday for any time of year and it will be amazing.
The water even in summer can be cold, however wetsuits are available for hire, including children’s sizes.
Lord Howe Island is old school, and this includes accessibility for disabilities and strollers from what I noticed. If mobility is a challenge or you are visiting with a wheelchair, I suggest calling LHI directly to discuss options.
There is one playground on the island for kids located behind the lagoon.
What to pack for your Lord Howe Island Holiday
From the Lord Howe Island website:
Dress is casual, smart casual for evenings. Swimming costume, hat and sun protection. Shoes for bush and reef walking, flip flops. Day pack for walks and beach trips. A raincoat and windcheater are recommended owing to occasional showers and squalls that can occur at any time of the year. (It rained most days when we visited in December) Pack required medication in your carry-on baggage for travel on Qantas Link.
I would add to this: swimsuit, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen in your carryon luggage. Sunscreen is available to purchase on the island for a reasonable cost if you run out.
Medical facilities are limited so bring everything you might need.
Long-sleeve rashies/swimsuits and light cotton coverups – the UV index is high in summer.
Communications / internet access
Your mobile phone will not work on the island. I suggest giving the phone number and email address of your accommodation to family members to reach in case of emergency. Public phones are available and the Visitor Centre is open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm and on Sunday 10am-1pm – internet is available here for visitors and locals.
Wifi is also available from the Anchorage restaurant. Be warned however that the internet available is limited and you won’t be able to do much more than download emails. No video streaming services, so download TV shows or moves before you leave home.
A small hospital and dispensary is situated on Lagoon Road. Consulting and dispensary hours at this four-bed hospital are 9.00am to 12.30pm Monday to Friday. The doctor and nursing staff are on 24-hour call in case of emergencies.
Australian Eastern Summertime during daylight saving. Winter is 30 minutes ahead of Australian Eastern Standard Time.
Banks, Credit Cards and Money
The currency is Australian Dollars. The Westpac agency operates through the Post Office, open hours are Mon-Fri 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm. Credit cards are accepted widely but not everywhere. There is an automatic banking teller available for use at all hours at the Lord Howe Island Bowling Club.
240V AC 50 cycles, three-pin plug – the same as mainland Australia.