Lord Howe Island

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Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island with the Lidgbird and Gower Mountains
Lord Howe Island with the Lidgbird and Gower Mountains
Waters Tasman Sea
Archipelago Lord Howe Archipelago
Geographical location 31 ° 33 ′  S , 159 ° 5 ′  E Coordinates: 31 ° 33 ′  S , 159 ° 5 ′  E
Location of Lord Howe Island
length 11 km
width 2 km
surface 14.6 km²
Highest elevation Mount Gower
875  m
Residents 382 (2016)
26 inhabitants / km²
Map of Lord Howe Island (1952)
Map of Lord Howe Island (1952)

The Lord Howe Island (English: Lord Howe Island ) is an island belonging to Australia in the Tasman Sea . With some smaller islands it forms the same Lord Howe Island Group (English: Lord Howe Iceland Group ).



Lord Howe Island is 581 km east of the city of Port Macquarie on the coast of the Australian state of New South Wales . It is located in the middle of the Tasman Sea (a tributary sea to the Pacific ), at the transition from the Lord Howe Threshold to the East Australian Basin (also called Tasman Basin ). The island, with the smaller surrounding islets, is the only mainland within a radius of several hundred kilometers (apart from the Ball's Pyramid , see below).


Lord Howe Island has a crescent shape and is approximately 11 km long and up to 2 km wide. Their total area is about 14.6 km². The west coast of the island is a large semicircular bay with shallow water and long sandy beaches, the largest part of which is closed by a coral reef and thus forms a lagoon . The east coast is less indented, but also has some smaller sandy bays. Two soaring mountains, Mount Lidgbird (777 m) and Mount Gower (875 m), dominate the south end of the island; there are high cliffs here. The central and northern parts of the island are characterized by hills of medium height, some of which also form cliffs. In the northern center there is a low lying plain. A few small islets and rocks rise up from the sea off Lord Howe's coast.


Lord Howe Island is of volcanic origin. It is a remnant of a shield volcano that formed about 6.9 million years ago and is part of a more than 1000 km long submarine mountain range that breaks through the sea surface here. It is believed that the earth's crust was repeatedly broken up by a hot spot in the earth's interior , which resulted in brisk volcanism. However, the former volcano Lord Howe Island has been extinct for millions of years and has therefore already been severely eroded . The two highest mountains, Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower, are made of basalt rock that has emerged from lava that has solidified in the crater of the Lord Howe volcano. The exterior of the volcano - the actual mountain - has long since been eroded. Other rocks of volcanic origin are tuffs and breccias .


Lord Howe Island is located in the subtropical climatic zone. The climate is humid and maritime with an average temperature of 16 ° C in August and 23 ° C in February. Like the temperature differences between the seasons, those between day and night are also only about 7 ° C. This is due to the temperature-regulating effect of the sea. Accordingly, the island does not experience any frost (but once a temperature of 0 ° C was measured on the summit of Mount Gower).

There are also clear differences in precipitation between the lowlands and the highlands of the island. In the lower elevations, the average annual rainfall is almost 1700 mm, with the (southern) winter raining the most, while the (southern) summer is drier. The southern part of Lord Howe Island is more humid as the mountains there cause clouds to build up and rain down. The average relative humidity is a high 75 to 78%.


In the area of ​​the Lord Howe Threshold the sea is up to 2,000 m deep, in the East Australian Basin to the west of the Lord Howe Island it is even up to 4,000 m. Since the island is part of an approximately 65 km long and 24 km wide massif of extinct volcanoes rising from the seabed, the water depth within a few kilometers is significantly less and is usually less than 50 m. In the lagoon formed by the coral reef off the west coast, the water is mostly only about one to two meters deep. As a result, Lord Howe Island has several smaller, uninhabited neighboring islands. The most important are Roach Island and the group of Admiralty Islets off the northeast coast as well as Blackburn Island in the lagoon . About 25 km southeast of Lord Howe is the uninhabited rock island Ball's Pyramid .

Panoramic view of Lord Howe Island, Ball's Pyramid can be seen in the distance on the left


Flora and fauna

Kentia palms on Lord Howe
Wood rail on Lord Howe

According to its many different types of landscape (including lowlands, hills and mountains, valleys, dunes, beach and rocky coasts), Lord Howe Island has a great variety of vegetation types. Altitude, sun and wind exposure and the influence of salt water are factors that determine which plants are found in which locations. In total, scientists have identified 241 native vascular plant species on the island , 105 of which are endemic ; H. not found anywhere else in the world. The species diversity of ferns is particularly great . In addition to the indigenous species, there are around 160 introduced plant species that are mainly concentrated in the lowlands around the settlement; some of them could displace native plants. Lord Howe Island's vegetation most closely resembles that of subtropical or temperate rainforests, and has most of the species common to Australia , New Caledonia, and, to a lesser extent, New Zealand . In addition to the forests, there are also palm groves as well as bush and grasslands. In the lowlands, the natural vegetation has been partially replaced by plantations. The Kentia palms ( Howea ), known as houseplant , are native here. They are grown in greenhouses for export to protect the seed pods and young shoots from rats.

The island's fauna is characterized by at least 129 species of birds. Among them, too, there are endemic species such as the flightless wood rail ( Gallirallus sylvestris ) and the extinct Lord Howe purple grouse ( Porphyrio albus ). The also endemic Lord Howe parakeet ( Cyanoramphus subflavescens ) died out in 1870. Various petrel species breed in large numbers on Lord Howe Island. The island is also home to the southernmost breeding colony of the masked booby, which is native to tropical waters . Two land reptiles , the skink Leiolopisma lichenigera and the gecko Phyllodactylus guentheri , are native to the main island and the surrounding islets. Only one species of mammal , the bat Eptesicus sagittula, is native to Lord Howe; however, mice, rats and goats were introduced by settlers. There are also a number of endemic species among the molluscs , insects and crustaceans , some of which have hardly been researched.

The tree lobster (a stick insect) has been considered extinct since the 1930s, but was rediscovered on the rocky island of Ball's Pyramid in 2001. McCulloch's anemonefish , which has a black and white pattern, lives in the sea . One animal species that lived on Lord Howe Island to extinction was the Pleistocene giant tortoise Meiolania platyceps , which reached a length of 2.5 m and was particularly noticeable for its large, horn-like bones on the skull and the mace-like tail. The youngest fossils of this type found there were dated to an age of 20,000 years.

Adjacent sea

The waters around Lord Howe Island are characterized on the one hand by their extraordinarily large variety of marine animals and on the other hand by the fact that they are home to the southernmost real coral reef. The biodiversity became possible because the sea here is suitable as a habitat for organisms from tropical as well as from temperate waters. These waters are considered to be one of the few on earth where cold and warm water-loving marine animals constantly meet. Scientists around Lord Howe Island etc. a. 477 fish species, over 300 algae species and more than 80 coral species identified.

natural reserve

Since January 1, 1982 about 75% of the area of ​​Lord Howe Island and the total area of ​​the smaller surrounding islands and Ball's Pyramid have been designated as a nature reserve ( Lord Howe Island Permanent Park Preserve ) by the Parliament of New South Wales . In the same year, UNESCO put the entire archipelago on the World Heritage List under the name Lord Howe Island Group (reference number 186) .

The sea around the archipelago is neither part of the nature reserve nor the world heritage. It is through the established on 26 February 1999 marine reserve Lord Howe Iceland Marine Park protected separately (480 square kilometers).

In order to protect the environment on Lord Howe Island, a maximum of 400 visitors are allowed to stay there at the same time.

In order to preserve the endemic flora and fauna of the island, the introduced neobiota are fought. So, after a failed attempt in 1976, the wild goats were exterminated again in 2001. The introduced wild boars were successfully fought back in 1981, cats feral in 1980. To this day, plans to displace house rats and house mice have remained unsuccessful. There are also plans to combat the New Holland owl brought here by humans .


Probably the first sighting of the island happened in February 1788, when the British sailing ship HMS Supply under Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball discovered it on the way from Sydney to Norfolk Island . Ball named the uninhabited and previously unknown island after the English naval admiral Richard Howe (1726–1799), then also known as Lord Howe . The first permanent settlers, three white men with Māori wives, did not settle on the remote island until 1833. They supplied passing sailing ships with drinking water and food. Over the following decades, the island's population increased. The cultivation of palm trees began around 1878. In 1893, a steamship line was established, regularly connecting Sydney, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island and the New Hebrides .

No evidence of any previous human presence - such as Polynesians - was found on Lord Howe Island.


About 380 permanent residents live on Lord Howe Island. They all live in the only settlement, on the plain in the northern central part of the island. The smaller surrounding islands are all uninhabited.


The island and its smaller surrounding islets are part of the Australian state of New South Wales . A special state law, the Lord Howe Island Act , governs the administration of the island, which is carried out locally by the Lord Howe Island Board .

Economy and Infrastructure

By far the most important industry on the island today is tourism. There are also several small retail stores and service providers on Lord Howe Island (including two banks and a post office) that meet the daily needs of locals and tourists. Due to the long transport routes, the price level is generally higher than on the mainland.


Lord Howe Island has a small airfield with regular connections to cities on the Australian mainland. You can also visit the island's marina with private boats. A supply ship from Australia calls at Lord Howe Island about every two weeks. The bicycle is an important means of transport on the island itself. There are relatively few motor vehicles (the maximum speed allowed is 25 km / h); public transport is not necessary due to the short distances.


The island's tourism operations are organized in the Lord Howe Island Tourism Association . It operates tourism advertising and provides holiday guests and interested parties with information. Around 20, mostly small, privately operated guest houses and lodges of various price ranges, a number of restaurants and cafés and a small conference center are available to visitors. In order not to burden the already disturbed balance of nature through human intervention, the island can only be visited by approx. 400 people per day. Camping is not allowed on Lord Howe Island.


  • Opened in 1978, the Lord Howe Island Museum is maintained by the Island Historical Society. On the one hand it shows exhibits from the island's history and historical photographs, on the other hand it offers extensive information on the unique nature of Lord Howe Island and its surroundings.


Web links

Commons : Lord Howe Island  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Single receipts

  1. a b Australian Bureau of Statistics : Lord Howe Island (L) ( English ) In: 2016 Census QuickStats . June 27, 2017. Accessed May 27, 2020.
  2. ^ PJ Higgins (ed.): Handbook of Australian, New Zealand & Antarctic Birds , Volume 1, Ratites to Ducks, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1990, ISBN 0-19-553068-3 , p. 766.
  3. ^ Lord Howe Island Accommodation. Retrieved August 27, 2014 .
  4. ^ Entry Lord Howe Island at DIISE, 2018. The Database of Island Invasive Species Eradications, developed by Island Conservation, Coastal Conservation Action Laboratory UCSC, IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group, University of Auckland and Landcare Research New Zealand. . accessed on February 12, 2019.