It’s 8.30pm and I’m walking back from dinner at a lively bowling club along a lazy road with no streetlights. There’s a half moon, which is making what could be sinister shadows flicker across the road, and there’s the occasional scratching noise from the forested edges of the bitumen. If this was Sydney, my fear senses would be on high alert and I’d have my keys between my fingers.
But this is Lord Howe island and I am completely at peace.
Rather, my awareness is drawn to this sense of calm, looking at it, wondering at it, turning it over in my mind and feeling it wash over me. This is how life should be. Life without expecting the worst.
Welcome to paradise.
It’s clear that I’m not alone in my deep appreciation for this visually stunning dot of an island. Around 88% of people are return visitors and having first visited when I was eight years old (after my parents honeymooned here), I’m curious to see what’s changed.
Memories start constantly appearing before my eyes, even before the QantasLink Dash-8 lands and the next five days are spent with them as my quiet companion, a dear one at that, having travelled here solo.
Can a place truly be considered timeless? Whereas mainland holiday destinations, like any coastal town in Australia, bear witness to the power of developers, where the sand covered floor of the local fish n’ chip shop has made way for the ubiquitous coastal chic cafe (with high rise apartments above), I wonder how Lord Howe has fared in the nearly four decades since I last peddled alongside the lagoon.
If tonight’s experience, walking back fearless, from the bowling club, a few wines and a great pizza under my belt, is anything to go by, I’d say that Lord Howe is better than ever.
This photo essay was my way of seeing what has changed.
Armed with photos I took on my first camera, a Hanimex 110, I seek out the locations of my memories, some of which now only exist on paper. Tears made a surprise appearance at several of the places, as time washed past me, with decades of life flickering quickly by like an old film playing in the Lord Howe Island village hall.
Colour filled the grey and foggy corners, as life burst back into the wisps of memories.
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