Emma Shead

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A visit to Lord Howe Island has been voted the No.1 thing to do before you die. We thought we’d better chat to a local for the inside scoop!

Emma, your family first moved to Lord Howe Island 23 years ago. Give us an overview of your time on the island.

My family was always destined to follow the road less travelled. In the 1980s, we used to sail the 770 km from Sydney to Lord Howe Island for holidays. It followed on that my parents then traded in a comfortable life in suburbia to take over a business in ruins on this isolated island with three young daughters. It was the start of a genuine family business offering an authentic Lord Howe experience.

With no services on the island, we opened the first café, à la carte restaurant and recently an Ayurvedic spa. Arajilla Retreat is now an all inclusive boutique luxury retreat and spa. Our Ayurvedic Spa adds yet another dimension to the island, with treatments described as ‘divine’ by those who receive them. Arajilla Retreat is about ‘real time out’ from your world.

Australian Traveller Magazine just voted LHI as the number 1 thing to do before you die. Would you agree?

Absolutely. Lord Howe Island is Australia’s most beautiful island. It is the South Pacific island paradise of your dreams. And the crazy thing is, it is so close – just a little more than a one hour flight from Port Macquarie with QantasLink.

Tell us a little about the island; we hear it has spectacular beaches.

The island is about much more than beaches. First glimpse you will have by air or sea is of the island’s two ancient volcanic mountains, with their dramatic cliffs rising out of the ocean and the island’s spectacular lagoon. The island’s waters are teaming with bird and sea life; many species are found only here. The pristine white, sandy beaches leave you wondering where all the people are. Past the beaches you will find lush green sub-tropical rainforest, home to the island’s unique flora and fauna. Most people who visit the island are hooked for life, and some never leave.

With only 400 visitors allowed onto the island at one time, it sounds very secluded and romantic. Is that the feel?

Visitors to Australia’s most beautiful island all find their own special connection. To the lovers and honeymooners, it is secluded and romantic – their own personal playground. To the adventurer, every day a different exploration awaits them.

There is something for everyone it seems, from bush and mountain hikes to scuba diving and snorkelling.

What are the range of activities on LHI?

Do as much or as little as you please.  Your day may consist of a snorkelling tour on a glass bottom boat in the morning, a BBQ and a glass of wine on the beach for lunch followed by an afternoon of golf, a spa treatment, or a good book. If that doesn’t satisfy you, there is mountain climbing, bush walks to suit all levels, fishing, diving, golf, boat trips, surfing, kayaking, swimming with turtles, a sunset cruise on the lagoon and bird watching. No wonder almost everyone is asleep by 9 o’clock!

As a local, what would be your number one thing to see or do on LHI?

One of the special things about Lord Howe is that as a visitor, you experience the island as a local does. Enjoying afternoon tea and the legendary cakes at Arajilla has long been a favourite local pastime.

What’s the relationship between Port Macquarie & Lord Howe Island?

There is a strong link between us both, with Lord Howe 600 km due east of Port Macquarie. The supply ship ‘Island Trader’ operates out of Port Macquarie, with trade worth many millions of dollars annually to Port. The Island Connection operates with an air link several times per week. Port is the main supplier to the island and the islanders and is their popular place for recreation.

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