These graceful, slow-growing and tough palms are native to the island. Almost certainly you already have seen them without knowing of their origin, for they are very popular as indoor plants in hotels eg “The Palm Court” and offices. Here they grow thickly in the forests, as you can see in the photograph. They also grow slowly to normal palm tree size and are found throughout the island.
There now is a nursery, developed by the islanders and Environment Department, which produces palm seeds for the international garden market – one hour tours of it are available to visitors.
The accompanying photo doesn’t do the scene justice, I’m afraid. But it is very pleasant indeed to watch the sun set over the lagoon, while the palms sway gently above. It would probably be better in warm weather, with a cold glass of some interesting beverage close at hand...
At Ned’s Beach, on the east coast, schools of kingfish come around every day to be hand fed. This was a long-established activity back in 1974 – and you too can participate in this curious event. Unfortunately I didn’t see it, so I was unable to obtain any photos.
Although fishing was off my work agenda, walking was included. I was looking for a site to place instrumentation to measure the composition of the cleanest air that could be found. That meant we had to find a site with minimal local influences. I was interested in the saddle between Mt Lidgbird (the northern mountain) and Mt Gower to the south (Photo 2). To get there, it was necessary to traverse what is called the lower road. Don’t ask me about the origin of the name, it is simply a narrow ledge maybe a hundred metres up the side of a cliff! You are not allowed to go there without a local guide – so I hired a guide, obtained a receipt, and later became (I suspect) the first government employee in Australia to claim for a mountain guide on petty cash!
The main photo shows my guide and the lower road – it’s the ledge on which we are sitting and leading off to the left of the photo. It’s also visible in the photo with my transport tip “getting about” – you will see the ledge above and to the right of the palms. No, the site was unsuitable: from the visit it was obvious the access was not good enough and there was no reasonable hope that it could be developed: the baseline air quality station finished up in Tasmania.
Since 1974, a grading system has been introduced for the walks on the island, from 1 (a gentle walk along the beach) to 10 (the climb up Mt Gower, including The Lower Road which now has a token safety rope railing). Nearly all are suitable for anybody of even moderate fitness.
I was on a work related trip, which made no provision for these activities. Much as the fishing apparently is excellent, particularly from a boat, I suspect I’d have had to do quite some explaining in my office about the ‘big one’ that I either caught (or, more likely, that got away)! The snorkelling in the lagoon also is reputed to be excellent – the photo is taken looking north toward the lagoon from the cliffs to the south. You also can see the lagoon in the main page photo.
This may be a sub-tropical paradise, with warm ocean water from the current flowing down the eastern Australian coast, but I was not about to try a dip in the middle of winter! Should you go at a more sensible time of year, it looks marvellous with many lovely sandy beaches – most of which you can expect to have virtually to yourself! The beach in this photo is alongside the lagoon end of the airstrip, in the middle of the island.