MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16
Our first full day on Lord Howe Island, and we explore the west, forced back by nesting sooty terns. Meet a German couple. Also a group from Canberra who sailed from Port Macquarie (the closest port on the mainland) on a catamaran. At Ned’s Beach, the king fish really DO swim around your feet. Holy Goat Coffee, from Port Macquarie, is provided in our room at Anchorage Resort.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17
Excellent Lunch at Coral Cafe, part of our accommodation package. Also explore the adjoining museum, before walking to Middle Beach where there are hundreds of birds nesting. The museum has details of a Catalina plane crash on Lord Howe in 1948. Seven people were killed, two survived. A petrol leak was the cause. To bowls club for a couple of drinks, with the club’s AGM being held upstairs. Lots of rugby league merchandise being worn by locals. On the notice board there is a newspaper article written by my good mate from News Ltd in Sydney, Jon Geddes (who does a great Alan Jones impersonation). It is about Adrian Skeggs, who toured Canada and France with the Wallabies, and was born and raised on Lord Howe, before attending The Armidale School. Tonight watch Maggie Smith movie, ‘My Old Lady’. My wife loves Maggie, but didn’t enjoy the movie.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18
We had booked the Mt Gower walk, but today I cancelled. My fear of heights took over, especially after I looked at the climb through binoculars and realised my legs would have turned to jelly at certain points. Cowardly, I know.
Learn of the death of All Blacks’ rugby legend, Jonah Lomu. I interviewed Jonah at Brisbane Airport and then at the Gold Coast in 2006 when he was contemplating a return to league – with the Titans. It was never going to happen. It was little more than a publicity stunt. Jonah started his football career in rugby league, and his hero as a youngster was Balmain’s Kiwi international, Olsen Filipaina. Take a look at You tube vision of Olsen, and then Jonah. Lomu was ‘allowed’ to play league until he was 15, then his coach at Wesley College insisted he concentrate on union.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19
It is so windy today. Glad we didn’t go up Mt Gower. We had booked a round island cruise, but the operator phones to say conditions are too rough. We have a walking day instead – to Transit Hill and Intermediate Hill. At the latter we meet two blokes and a lady who have sailed the yacht, ‘Shambles’ from Sydney, and despite a mishap with their rudder, made it to safe anchorage. Sydney to Hobart racer, ‘Midnight Rambler’, leaves the lagoon. One of the ‘Shambles’ crew members is a former student of St Edmunds College, Ipswich. He does not have a high opinion of Ipswich mayor, Paul Pisasale. At Mutton Bird Point we see a loggerhead turtle.
Dinner at Greenbank restaurant where we meet the licensees of the Woodenbong Hotel (northern New South Wales), Tony and Melissa. They have a French chef. A recent guest at their hotel was Queensland cricket identity, Lew Cooper.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20
Glass bottom boat trip with another couple – from Deniliquin in New South Wales. We snorkel, they stay on the boat. Our skipper’s humor is so ‘dry’. He says many tourists are taken aback by the vivid colors of the coral. Some have been accustomed to diving in areas where the coral has been bleached and believe healthy coral is white!! He mentioned the Red Sea in particular, but also pointed out that the Great Barrier Reef suffered in comparison to Lord Howe, the most southerly coral reef in the world.
Lunch at Anchorage where a much traveled Australian yachtie tells us he has no time for Croats. ‘Rip off merchants’, he says. Catch up with Woodenbong pair, Tony and Melissa. Fellow opposite wears a Bremen soccer shirt.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21
We have fresh fish delivered to our unit while we swim in the lagoon, and then paddle at Ned’s Beach. On the island, it is safe for guests leave the door unlocked and the money in the fridge.
Back in Brisbane, a surprise 70th birthday party is thrown for (a very emotional) former Queensland lock, Ron Raper. He started his senior playing career with Canterbury-Bankstown in Sydney in 1966, and former teammates, Les Johns and Ross Kidd makes the trip to Brisbane. Also in attendance is Ron’s older brother, Johnny, one of rugby league’s ‘Immortals’.
In Taree, it is the 100th anniversary of the opening of the bridge over the Manning River. My good mate, Brian Atherton is interviewed by local television as he crosses the bridge as part of an open day.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22
Back to Brisbane today and our Filipino cabbie tells his life story on the way from the airport. The little house on the corner, near the Uxbridge Street entrance to our town house estate, is to be auctioned. A Ukrainian lady had lived there, by herself, for many years. Channel 7 report that our suburb, Grange, is in the top 10 in Brisbane. On the Aurora television channel, Petula Clark’s song, ‘Down Town’ is featured.