The archipelago, 700 km northeast of Sydney, is of volcanic origin. It has extensive coral reefs and a large number of endemic plant species. The important bird sanctuary with the extremely rare Lord Howe wood rail, a flightless bird that only occurs there, is subject to strict nature conservation rules. Visit health-beauty-guides.com for Oceania climate.
Lord Howe Archipelago: Facts
|Official title:||Lord Howe Archipelago|
|Natural monument:||Discovered in 1788 while transporting convicts by ship from Sydney to Norfolk Island; Archipelago originally a shield volcano that was 90% weathered, consisting of Lord Howe Island, Admiralty Islands, Mutton Bird Islands, Blackburn (Rabbit) Island, Gower Island, Sail Rock, Ball’s Pyramid and coral reefs|
|Continent:||Australia / Oceania|
|Country:||Australia, New South Wales|
|Location:||Lord Howe Island Group, 700 km northeast of Sydney|
|Meaning:||a unique landscape of volcanic origin with a largely intact ecosystem|
|Flora and fauna:||241 native plant species, 105 of which only occur here and 16 are considered rare and endangered; the only native mammal is the broad-winged bat species Eptesicus sagittula; 168 bird species, including particularly rare and endangered bird species such as the Lord Howe rail (an estimated 250 animals), also the breeding area of the red-tailed tropical bird and the southernmost breeding area of the masked booby, as well as the pale-footed, black-winged and wedge-tailed shearwater, white-bellied petrel and soot Gray tern, sometimes also large-headed flycatcher, strangler crow, plover, turnstone, curlew and common woodcock; 100 species of spiders, 50% of which can only be found here|
Howea palms – and a couple of small rails
Incomparable island blobs in the vastness of the sea: Far away from the Australian mainland, the waves of the South Pacific wash around the needle-like basalt rocks of the Ball’s Pyramid, clouds cover the heights of Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird, and not far from the rocks populated by nest ferns, the wind plays with the feathery leaf fronds of the Howea palms. Their seeds were successfully exported between 1890 and 1914: The British in particular loved to decorate courtyards and entrance halls of hotels or large bourgeois salons with such exotic greenery.
The fresh, salty breeze blowing in from the sea wets the bracts around the flower heads of Cassinia tenuifolia. In the Erskine Valley, olive trees shape the green; but before you see it, the rather “unpleasant” smell of Coprosma putida rises in your nose – no wonder that the colloquial English name of this plant is short and sweet “Stinkwood” – “stink wood”. Bubbia howeana sprout on a mountain saddle, the bark and leaves of which leave a pepper aroma when rubbed, and the crimson-red flowers of the “mountain rose,” a type of ironwood. Some red-tailed tropical birds soar in the rising winds, their long, reddish tail feathers bobbing up and down “exhilarated” during courtship flight. At the summit of the two highest peaks of the former shield volcano, which was active for over 500,000 years.
The basalt landscape is so bizarre, so astonishing is the multitude of species, which – favored by the isolated island location – are at home here all by themselves, that it is easy to overlook the exciting insight into the island, which was discovered in 1788 by the »HMS Supply«, in the history of the earth offers. In the deposits of the last 130,000 years, fossils were found of the tortoise species Meiolania platyceps, which probably became extinct more than 20,000 years ago, and the now extinct bat species Nyctophilus howensis, discovered only a few decades ago.
The interest in the geology, flora and fauna of this island awoke right from the beginning of the white settlement of Australia. In search of suitable convict colonies, scientists such as Charles Moore, director of the Botanical Gardens in Sydney, went ashore in 1869 in the course of considering how the island could be used in the best possible way. He was followed by others who published the first comprehensive study of the island’s fish species in 1881; Finally, in 1887, employees of the Australian Museum embarked on an expedition. Interest in this unique flora and fauna has persisted to this day – also in Europe, so that the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew (Great Britain) are still involved in research.
Particular attention is paid to the flightless, brownish feathered Lord Howe wood rail, the number of which had already fallen to 26 in the 1970s. Thanks to an extensive breeding program, around 250 birds are now populating the island again. For the time being, they were spared a fate like the one they suffered from the Dieffenbach rail and the Chatham rail on the Chatham Islands: the final disappearance from this planet. Only once has a species long thought to be extinct, the Takahe, native to the New Zealand Fiordland, been rediscovered. This makes it all the more important not only to safeguard the existence of the Lord Howe wood rail, but also the populations of the spectacled bird and crab crows, which can also only be found on this island.