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CELEBRITY TRAVEL: CHRIS HEMSWORTH's secret island

Where do Hollywood stars go when they want to get far away? Chris Hemsworth and his extended family, including brothers Liam and Luke, have enjoyed a family getaway to the lush island paradise that is Lord Howe Island, located off the coast of New South Wales, Australia. It's the first time the extended Hemsworth family - including parents Leonie and Craig Hemsworth - have holidayed together since Liam and Luke moved back to Australia from Los Angeles. Chris Hemsworth is Tourism Australia's Global Ambassador, so he’s encouraging Australians to explore their own backyard.  
 
Highlights of the trip shared on social channels revealed an island itinerary packed with surfing, fishing and beach activities, with famous friends Taika Waititi, a New Zealand film director and Mark and Sophie Hutchinson, Founders of Wild Ark, also joining the family affair.
Luckily it’s not just Hollywood star that can visit one of the world’s most beautiful islands. An hour's flight from Sydney or Brisbane, Lord Howe Island is a World Heritage-listed Island paradise where shoes are optional and the lifestyle is laidback. With only 400 visitors allowed on the island at any time, and just 300 permanent residents, Lord Howe Island is one of Australia's best-kept secrets. Fringed with coral reefs and turquoise lagoons, and topped with mountain valleys and sea-cliffs, the island's beauty is astounding. In fact, when David Attenborough visited Lord Howe Island he described it as: "So extraordinary it is almost unbelievable…”.

Like the Galapagos, Lord Howe has incredible island wildlife and epic nature. With aqua shallows neighbouring lush, mountainous terrain and plentiful wildlife. Immersing themselves in the spectacular natural landscapes, the Hemsworth family filled their days out on the water and exploring the island offerings. Their sun-soaked days were spent surfing, fishing, snorkelling, and dining alfresco. With very few cars on the island, the group explored most of the island by bike or on foot. 

The family were the first guests to stay at the newly opened, luxe lodge Island House. Comprised of two private architect-designed houses where no detail has been overlooked, the lodge is hidden amongst the native island landscape. The expert inhouse Japanese chefs whipped up the group a Japanese feast with freshly caught kingfish and tuna sashimi. The family also made good use of the yoga mats that are provided as part of premium stay. 

The Hemsworth brothers and father Craig, took advantage of the legendary fishing spots the island is known for, taking the kids out on a custom built vessel called Lulawai. They spent an afternoon catching kingfish and trevally, while the kids enjoyed jumping off and snorkelling the reef around the boat. 
If you want to travel; like the Hemsworths. Here’s the operators who helped them:

Reef N Beyond Eco Tours took the group on a scenic lap around the island coastline where they explored caves and cliff structures and whirlpools. Birdwatching was also part of the tour and the group were able to spot many of the 207 different bird species recorded on Lord Howe. The Captain, David Gardiner (who has spent the last 40 years skippering in and around the waters of the island), also treated the group to an epic reef surfing session.

Making the most of the island's space and fresh air, some of the family also walked to the summit of Mount Gower – rated as one of the best day treks in the world. The 14-kilometre (8.7-mile) return hike, which must be undertaken with a registered guide, provided panoramic views over the island while guide Dean Hiscox (who was the Lord Howe Island Ranger for 16 years), shared his local knowledge.

A trip to the island's pristine Ned Beach saw the family hand feed fish, which swarmed around their feet. The calm waters meant everyone could snorkel above a colourful kaleidoscope of fish and coral reef, while a picnic was enjoyed on shore.

With spectacular weather, the group enjoyed a beach barbecue at Old Settlement Beach. A highlight of the trip, the food was cooked over the local community barbecue, while a game of beach cricket took place. There was also snorkelling, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. 
 
Whether you're planning a romantic getaway or a big family trip, take inspiration from the Hemsworths' trip and start planning your very own holiday with the below :

Luxury Stay: For those looking for the Hollywood treatment, the newest lodge on Lord Howe Island, Island House, is a unique property comprising two private architect-designed houses set amongst a landscape of native Banyan trees. Offering a new kind of personal luxury, ahead of any stay, guests work with the Island House team to co-curate their perfect island stay itinerary. Whether that means a  visit packed with adventure, a wellness focused retreat or an indulgent escape laden with local produce, wine and spa treatments, every little detail is built into an itinerary for your stay.  Each house is furnished with mid-century Danish furniture, a rich collection of mid-century and Aboriginal art, Japanese homewares and a thoughtfully stocked library. There is also equipment for guests to use, including paddle and surf boards, fishing and snorkelling gear, binoculars, as well as musical instruments and painting materials. 

Surf like a Hemsworth: No Hemsworth inspired break would be complete without catching a few waves. Surfing enthusiasts will be happy to know that Lord Howe Island's surfing spots are often regarded as among the best in Australia. With plenty of options to satisfy any wave-riding desires, on the eastern side of the island find the best and most popular beach breaks for travellers and locals alike. On the western side, the island is fringed by a coral lagoon, so you will have to paddle up to 1km (.62 miles) to access the best surf spots, but once you're there - you are in the presence of some world-class waves. 

Underwater world: All you need is a snorkel with lagoons in swimming distance from the beach. The waters around the Island are home to 90 coral species, 500 species of fish and from mid-September to late November, you can watch as humpback whales migrate along the coast. Book a snorkelling or diving tour with an operator such as Pro Dive Lord Howe Island to see some of the more spectacular snorkel and premier dive sites such as Ball's Pyramid. This is a must for all experienced divers and the boat ride alone is worth it just for the spectacular views. And for those that don't like to get wet, there is also a two-hour glass bottom boat tour available with Lord Howe Environmental Tours. For the kids, plan a trip to the calm, clear waters of Ned's Beach.
 

See wildlife and nature by foot: Lord Howe Island is a wildlife wonder and locals are passionate about taking good care of the land and its wildlife. The island has been practicing eco-friendly travel for decades with strict recycling measures and environmental policies in place - meaning there are very few cars on the island, so the best way to explore is by foot. The island is laced with hiking trails that range in difficulty - so you could stroll along with the kids as some of the 130 bird species chirp above you, or take on the 14-kilometre, eight-hour guided trek up Mount Gower, which is considered to be one of the Great Walks of Australia. 

Indulge in a gourmet getaway: Be sure to take advantage of one of the communal beach BBQs on one of the scenic spots around the island. For those that want to dine for a special occasion, book into Arajilla Restaurant for beautifully fresh seafood paired with Australian wine, and Beachcomber Restaurant set within tropical gardens and offer paddock-to-plate experiences. 

Fishing riches: Lord Howe Island is legendary for fishing. Surrounded by Marine Park and with no commercial fishery, the diversity of species, terrain, methods – and the sheer abundance of fish – rank Lord Howe among the world's top fishing destinations. Home to the world's southernmost coral reef, you'll find kingfish, yellowfin tuna, trevally and wahoo in the crystal clear waters. There are a range of easily accessible shore fishing areas and several charter boat operators offer fishing trips within the lagoon, around the island and to Ball's Pyramid. 

Luxury Link: www.australia.com  www.islandhouse.com.au

Posted 15/10/2020


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