We started the day with our usual routine of the shops and then prepared a backpack to walk the trails to the north of the island. We would try and cover all the northern tracks we could.
The walk to North Bay meant passing through the Kentia palm forests over the hill from our motel. We briefly stopped at North Beach, at the foot of North Bay like all the beaches on Lord Howe, it had beautiful white sand and an expanse of calm aqua and deep blue water. There was an organised party here having lunch, they would have been here to snorkel on the wreck of the ‘Favourite’ which ran aground in this bay in 1965.
Moving on where were here to climb the 140 meters of Mt Eliza, the summit unfortunately was closed due to the breeding season of the Sooty Turns. We sat on the cliffs above a small inlet and watched the Red Tail Tropic Birds as they wheeled around the cliffs on their way in from feeding to their nests in the cliffs underneath us. Al had an amazing time trying to take photographs of the flying Red Tailed Tropic Birds in this environment.
We climbed down from Mt Eliza and went into Old Gulch a small rocky beach on the opposite side of the island to North Beach. This was the narrowest part of the Island being on 300 meters wide. The lower flats and slopes of the forest are all palms. The forest floor is quite open and covered in fern frons. We saw Islanders up the palms on the hill sides gathering the seeds of the Kentia palm. The practice of gathering Kentia palm seeds and the growing the palms is one of the main ways this island makes its living. There are sacks of seeds often heaped around on the edge of the bush; these seeds are sold to the Island Nursery for 4 cents a seed. The seeds are the source of the palm plant industry that started with a palm seed industry sometime in the 1880′, was formalised in the 1906 by the starting of a cooperative and disbanded in the late 1980’s in preference to cultivating and exporting the plants.
After Old Gulch, we refilled our water bottles and climbed back up the ridge dividing North Beach from Old Settlement Beach. It was very hot and Al started to feel a little bit of the heat. After a short stop on the ridge we set off on the 2.1 kilometres walk along ridge tops and cliffs to Ned’s Beach passing Kirn’s Lookout on the way. The bird life was amazing and views were spectacular. This was the first time I did not feel we were in a crowd. From the time we left the junction of the track leading from North Beach to Old Settlement beach and the Ned’s Beach track we never saw another soul.
Half way along the ridges from Kirn’s Lookout and Mt Malabar Al saw a bird that looked a lot like an Owl. It was big and brown and sat very high on the cliff. She managed to get a number of photographs of it. We were hoping that Ron maybe able to identify this bird. He has agreed to when we get the film back.
On the way back down the cliffs we realized we were not far from our home in Old Settlement Beach, it just lay across some grass paddocks. So we hopped the fence and took the quick way home through the fields and finished the afternoon with a nice cold beer.