The incredible day hike to the summit of Mount Gower has excitement, challenge and friendly little birdies, as well as incredible views over the whole of Lord Howe Island, with its surrounding turquoise ocean and coral reef.
- The only place in the world to interact with providence petrels
- Incredible views of the reef, surrounding mountains and the tallest sea stack in the world
- Rock scrambling and rainforest tramping
On Top Of Mount Gower
Ever wondered what it would be like standing on the summit of the best day hike in Australia? It’s a sensory overload. The salty sea air sweeping up the mountain and gently touching your face, the smell of the lush, moist, misty forest, the sound of sil….. “Woo … hee! Woo … hee!”, our guide, Dean, shouting out to the sky. Suddenly an unexpected surprise of birds, providence petrels, begin falling out of the sky and landing if not quite on us, all around.
Welcome to the summit of Mount Gower.
At 875m above sea level, Mount Gower towers proudly on the southern tip of Lord Howe Island and with its endemic flora and fauna, there is no other mountain like it in the world. Reaching the summit is no easy feat though, and can only be conquered alongside a licensed guide.
“Well, that escalated quickly.” I thought as we reached the base of the Mount Lidgbird cliffs after ascending 80 vertical metres straight from sea level. The stroll from the lagoon to Little Island with the rock hop along the foothills was enough to get the blood pumping but, gee that was some solid preparation for the next 8 hours.
A quick readjustment of my helmet and we continued to follow the foot padding along the base of the basalt cliffs where it eventually narrowed into a section known as the Lower Road. No wider than a metre, it was a daunting 500m traverse. Despite having ropes affixed to aid each step, my fear of heights was igniting. If I let go of these safety ropes or made one clumsy move it was an unforgiving fall straight into the ocean. Just breeeeatthheeee.
Entering the Erskine Valley and reaching the saddle between Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower meant ascending a calf screaming incline through picturesque curly palms up to a tranquil outcrop with a freshwater stream flowing from deep within the mountains. From here the going got real tough. Our legs were bellowing for a rest and bullets of sweat pounded the path – path being an overstatement.
Getting Up The ‘Get Up’
We heaved ourselves up using branches while frantically trying to find decent footholds in the dense rainforest floor. Roots were used as stairs as we hoisted ourselves from one to the other using the ropes for support. Then there was the all-out adrenaline explosion climbing the ‘Get Up’. This final vertical pitch to the summit is up an exposed rock slab that boasts the most incredible views.
Mount Gower is often smothered in cloud but lucky for us we had perfect conditions. We could see clearly across the turquoise lagoon to Mount Eliza and had uninterrupted views of Mount Lidgbird right in front of us. The razor-sharp pinnacle of Balls Pyramid, 20km south-east, could even be seen through a tangled web of branches.
Nearing the summit, little and big mountain palms replaced the curly palm, moss carpeted the ground where endangered woodhens foraged around and the curious currawongs lurked above. Pushing through leaves we entered a clearing on the side of the mountain and just stood there in complete awe.
Read more: Lord Howe Island’s Top 8 Adventures
How To Get There
Lord Howe Island lies approximately 600km north east of Sydney and south-east of Brisbane and therefore can only be accessed by aircraft or boat.
Intermediate – Experienced.
14km return, 875m elevation gain.