Dramatic volcanic geology and a rare and colourful cocktail of tropical and temperate marine life contributed to Lord Howe Island’s World Heritage listing in 1982. Visitors to the island, 550km into the Pacific Ocean, can snorkel reefs, cycle through Norfolk Island Pines and feast on sea-fresh catches. So why climb Mount Gower, which rears 875m from the sea on its southern tip? Because it’s there!
The all-day 14km return Mt Gower climb is guided by fifth generation islander Jack Shick, who has 2000-odd ascents under his belt. Age is no barrier on this climb – successful summitters range from four to eighty years. Dodgy
knees and a fear of heights count you out, though. The ascent to the crowning mist forest involves several rope-assisted step-ups and a hard-hat traverse of neighbouring Mt Lidgbird’s western face with sea 150m below.
Gower often sports a cloud cap that blocks the view. On clear days, however, Lord Howe’s forests, beaches and lagoons suggest a jewelled seahorse pinned to the ocean. You can see the curvature of the planet too.