Fungus problem partially closes popular Aussie tourist spot

The Lord Howe Island Board announced earlier this week, via social media, the temporary closure of the Permanent Park Preserve (PPP) because of a disease-causing fungus. The Facebook post has since been deleted and a statement made confirming the extent of the closure – that it isn’t island-wide and only 5 per cent of its tracks are affected.

The PPP itself covers about 70 per cent of the island and was created to preserve the island’s native flora and fauna. “The walking trails make up less than 5 per cent of the total PPP and it’s only the walking trails that are currently closed to the public including our visitors,” a statement from Lord Howe Island Tourism states.

“The remainder of the PPP was never accessible to visitors so it’s incorrect for visitors to be told that 70 per cent of the island is closed to them or that the island is closed altogether.

“Normally, 30 per cent of the island (the settlement area) is where all activities are undertaken and where all restaurants, accommodation and tours operate.”

The noxious airborne weed, called myrtle rust, was discovered on the island in early February and is being eliminated with additional resources being brought in to do so.

Despite ongoing treatment and preventative fungicide spraying, three additional infected sites were identified, two of which were around 230m from the boundary of the Permanent Park Preserve.

“It was the fact that they were close to the edge of the [preserve] that was the trigger for closing [it],” Atticus Fleming, chair of the Lord Howe Island Board, told Guardian Australia.

Myrtle rust affects plants of the Myrtaceae family, which includes eucalypts, paperbarks and tea trees. The fungus affects flower buds and new growth, affecting the ability of plants to photosynthesise.

There is concern myrtle rust may affect Myrtaceae species endemic to the island, including the mountain rose (Metrosideros nervulosa), the scalybark (Syzygium fullagarii) and the Gnarled Mossy Cloud Forest, a critically endangered forest that crowns Mount Gower, the island’s highest mountain.

Operators on the island are keen to emphasise that while some of the preserve is shut, other activities are still open to tourists.

“We are still open for business, except for certain activities,” said Stephen Sia, treasurer of the Lord Howe Island Tourism Association. “There are still plenty of places that visitors can visit … The settlement area in itself is quite nice to walk around, and all the beaches are open, and people can still swim.”

So, the message is loud and clear, Lord Howe Island is still open for business!

Here are some examples of what you can do right now:

  • snorkel off the beach
  • glass bottom boat tour in the lagoon
  • snorkel tour at several lagoon locations
  • scuba dive
  • snorkel with the sharks
  • a turtle watching tour – marvel at large green turtles swimming or resting on the seafloor
  • swimming in some of the cleanest water in Australia
  • walk amongst seabirds on Ned’s Beach
  • view visiting wader birds on Old Settlement and North Beach
  • enjoy the sunset with drinks or a barbecue at one of many beaches on the island
  • get up early and watch the sunrise on the eastern side of the island
  • hire a kayak and explore the lagoon
  • go stand up paddle boarding
  • visit the museum to learn about the island’s human and natural history
  • enjoy a free documentary screening at the museum (daily at 10.30 am)
  • go deep sea fishing and enjoy the island scenery while catching kingfish, trevally, wahoo or tuna
  • take a boat tour around the island to marvel at the rugged coastline and cliffs
  • take a three hour cruise to Balls Pyramid – the world’s tallest ocean stack
  • enjoy fine dining at a number of restaurants, specialising in local fish caught straight from the ocean
  • enjoy a round of golf at one of the world’s most scenic golf courses
  • relax under the palms and read with the gentle sound of surf in the background
  • sample locally made beer at the brewery
  • enjoy the loop walk through Stevens Reserve and marvel at tall banyan trees that are many hundreds of years old
  • enjoy a tour of the Kentia palm nursery
  • take a guided bus tour around the island roads to learn about the history, flora and fauna
  • enjoy a lively presentation at the museum by island naturalist Ian Hutton
  • lose yourself beach combing along a deserted beach
  • go rock pool exploring on the rocky seashore to discover many marine creatures
  • spot seabirds including Sooty terns, Brown Noddies, White terns and Black winged petrels.

Have you visited Lord Howe Island? Is it on your travel wish list? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Experience the magic of Magnetic Island

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -