DM and MM's Lord Howe Island Trip Diary

Day 6 - Bowls, Museum, Tennis

Thursday, 16 January, 2003

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12:00

We rose to a bright blue sky and warm sunshine. The first trip was to Thompson's to get another loaf of fresh bread - wholemeal, still warm.

After dropping it back at the cabin, we suncreened up and started walking over to the bowling club to see if we could get a game. When we arrived, there was a barefoot man mowing the green and a couple of blokes inside the clubhouse having a chat. They said hello and returned to their conversation. After a while they walked off. I went out to check with the guy mowing the green to see if we could play soon. He said that he was busy getting the green ready for the chicken run at 4pm, and we might be able to squeeze in an hour at 2:30. Since it was barely 10:30, we figured we'd best cut our losses and head elsewhere.

We dropped in at the island museum on the way back. The door was closed and I saw a "Museum Closed" sign on it. But above that was an opening hours sign that indicated it should have been open, and indeed there were a couple of people visible inside. Then I noticed on the other door a sign saying "Museum Open". So I walked up and tried to push the door open. It wouldn't move... Then I tried pulling and it opened easily. I poked my head in and asked the lady behind the desk if the museum was open and she said, "Yes, the wind just blew the door shut." I pointed out the confusing sign on the door and a man raced over to fix it. He also said that one of the galleries was closed for a short time while "they're doing some filming in there."

We looked instead at the large display case with a replica skeleton of a giant horned tortoise - native to the island but long extinct - then at the natural history gallery. This contained several good displays, some new and modern, others a bit old fashioned, showing the geology, fauna, and flora of the island. Displays of coral and seashells ran down the centre of the room, with geological maps and rock samples along one wall, stuffed birds along another, and a third devoted to plants. The fourth wall held artwork by local residents. Central wall panels described fish and other marine species.

Back in the main room, we looked at the various gift shop items available for purchase. Then we inquired about the second gallery, which we were informed was still being used for filming, but shouldn't be much longer. We therefore went out on to the verandah to sit for a few minutes.

While sitting, I noticed through the glass wall the sign above the second gallery, declaring it to be the Ian Kiernan Gallery. As we sat, a man came out and stood on the verandah near us, leaning on the railing. I wondered aloud how long the filming would be, and the man turned to us and said, "They're done in there - you can go in now." Only after saying thanks and getting up to go back into the museum did I realise the man was none other than Ian Kiernan himself.

The second gallery was devoted to the human history of Lord Howe Island, beginning with its discovery in February, 1788, by the HMS Supply, sailing out from the newly founded colony of New South Wales to establish a second colony on Norfolk Island. A replica of the Supply was proudly displayed in a glass case above a collection of artefacts from the early settlers - such things as bottles, reading glasses, magnifying lenses, tools, eating utensils, etc. A folder on the display case contained copies of original logs and journals by some of the first sailors and settlers on the island.

Moving around the room, there were displays of island life in the early 20th century and during the World Wars. Old radio equipment, military uniforms, and medals received by island inhabitants were showcased. In the centre of the room were displays of educational equipment used in the island school, including counting toys, geographic rubber stamps, a huge teacher demo slide rule, and other paraphernalia. Michelle spotted a box of Cuisenaire rods and said, "Hey, remember those?" I noticed a set of SRA reading cards - similar to ones I had used in primary school. I said, "Hey, we used to use these." Michelle replied, "Oh my gosh - and now they're in a museum!"

The next wall of the gallery held oars, harpoons, poles, and other implements of the island's whaling days in the 19th century. A small boat rested in front of these artefacts, containing a large turtle shell and some other items.

The other end of the rooms to the educational material contained displays of historical photographs - beautiful black and white prints from originals taken early in the 20th century, showing island life as it was, with women in long, almost Victorian, dresses amongst the palm trees, and men and boys working at farming the land.

Newer photos showed the days of the flying boats - until the building of the airstrip in 1974, the only way to get to the island apart from by ship. A display about the wreck of the RAAF Catalina flying boat confirmed my deduction that it clipped the ridge leading to Malabar before falling down the hillside to its current resting location.

As we left I dropped my supply of coins into the donation box and Michelle bought a souvenir teatowel.

We walked back home via Thompson's Store, where Michelle bought a magazine to read and I had an ice cream - banana and peach/mango. We also stopped at the island co-op, where they sold bulk food items, and we picked up a bag of honey-roasted cashews. We also booked ourselves in for a game of tennis on the island's court for 16:30 this afternoon. Hopefully by then the day will have cooled off a little.

17:41

Just back from tennis, which was a sweltering affair in the hot sun. We collected racquets and balls from Thompson's and took to the court, which sits fenced off in a paddock. As we played, two horses appeared from an adjoining paddock past a tree-lined boundary and nonchalantly sauntered right past us to some pasture up the hillside. Later on a group of three cows - one brown, two black - passed in the opposite direction.

Tonight we are having the leftover Asian food from Tuesday for dinner. There is plenty left.


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