Pinetrees Lodge at Lord Howe: More than 130 years on, Australian island lodge nonetheless shines


When I visited Lord Howe Island in October, the shearwaters have been nesting behind Ned’s Beach and the red-tailed tropic birds have been doing the identical on Malabar Hill. A brand new moon drew tides out up to now even residents have been shocked at what was uncovered. During my weeklong keep at Pinetrees Lodge, I spend time with Dani Rourke and uncover that proudly owning and managing certainly one of Australia’s oldest household companies was one thing this former lawyer and sixth era Lord Howe Islander might have foreseen.

Lord Howe is a 14.55-square-kilometre crescent-shaped volcanic remnant within the Tasman Sea. It lies roughly 600 kilometres east of the NSW mainland shoreline and has a inhabitants of about 350 individuals. In 1982 the Lord Howe Island Group was declared a World Heritage web site for its spectacular topography and plethora of endemic species. The island-wide cap of 400 vacationers at anybody time, carried out to assist protect the pure magnificence, nonetheless exists.

Pinetrees is simply over a kilometre north of what Lord Howe residents tongue-in-cheekily name the CBD. It employs about 30 employees and accommodates as much as 75 company. Although Pinetrees is among the cushiest locations to remain on Lord Howe, with beautiful meals and top-notch service, it is an understated and unplugged expertise.

Rooms and cottages, with snug lounges and louvred home windows, are related by boardwalks. There’s a small onsite day spa, a tennis courtroom and lawns. Gardens are filled with Kentia palms whereas overhead is a banyan tree cover and towering Norfolk pines. Meals are served on the verandah or inside the place there is a eating room, bar, lounge and library. Their beachside boatshed is an actual suncatcher.

The Pinetrees story begins with Margaret Curry, an Irish-born housemaid, and Thomas Andrews, a fetching seaman she met on her passage to Australia in 1832 and married once they received to Sydney. As Australia sank into financial despair within the early 1840s the couple headed to Lord Howe for a 12-month stint, working as common servants for a Captain Poole, that turned a lifelong sea change. Back then, the island was freshly settled and a resupply station for whaling ships.

In 1848, the Andrews paid two tonnes of potatoes for a big piece of land that included what’s now Pinetrees Lodge. Their daughter, Mary Nichols, was not solely integral within the improvement of the island’s Kentia palm seed export trade – mandatory after whaling waned – however started working the household homestead as a guesthouse. The Pines, because it was known as, formally hosted company from the mid-Nineties.

Despite illness, divorce, departure and dying – one relative even went down with the Titanic in 1912 – Pinetrees stayed within the household and has operated constantly. During the Nineteen Thirties, the rowdiest Christmas time company (legal professionals apparently) have been relegated to tents as a result of they stored breaking the fibro partitions. In the Fifties, Pinetrees provided the island’s first ensuite rooms.

While enhancements have been made by every era, together with Dani’s dad and mom Pixie and Ed Rourke, everybody has at all times tried to protect an environment harking back to a easier time.

As the youthful of her dad and mom’ two youngsters, Dani Rourke was not initially obliged to hitch the household enterprise. Her older brother, Harry, was all set to take over Pinetrees however in 2002 he tragically died at 29 in a bike accident. At that point, Dani was dwelling within the inside Sydney suburb of Surry Hills working as a lawyer at Blake Dawson Waldron with no intention of ever shifting again to Lord Howe.

Her future now seemed utterly totally different to what she’d envisaged. Dani advised me it slowly dawned on her she’d should adapt to that by doing one thing she’d heard about known as “settling down”. She did so with a scientist she’d crushed on since college, Luke Hanson. They married in 2006 and finally started their very own household. Yet earlier than their first youngster, Elsie, had even turned one, Dani’s mom and longstanding Pinetrees co-owner turned terminally ailing.

More than as soon as, throughout my keep on Lord Howe, I’m reminded of the movie The Descendants. It opens with footage of Hawaii and the voiceover of George Clooney’s character bemoaning the very fact his mainland American pals assume that as a result of he lives someplace that appears like paradise his life should be one lengthy vacation. “Are they nuts?” he says. “How can they possibly think our families are less screwed up, our heart attacks and cancers less fatal, our grief less devastating.”

Dani spent the previous couple of months of her mom’s life by her facet again house on Lord Howe. After Pixie Rourke died in 2010, Dani and Luke took over the administration of Pinetrees and some years later purchased out Dani’s aunt, Kerry McFadyen. As new homeowners, they wished to make vital enhancements whereas preserving the spirit of Pinetrees and retaining valued regulars.

Once they received their footing, Dani and Luke injected all of the love and cash and vitality into Pinetrees they may muster, operating refurbishing initiatives each winter and elevating the culinary commonplace to nice heights. They are at present engaged on renewable-energy choices. There are nonetheless no locks on the doorways or any Wi-Fi or TV screens.

Since my keep, the household has moved to the mainland for the children’ education. Yet, having met Elsie and Pixie, I can so simply think about returning years from now to search out one or each of the seventh era taking good care of enterprise at Pinetrees whereas preserving an environment harking back to a easier time.





Qantas flies between Sydney and Lord Howe Island. Eastern Air companies Newcastle, Port Macquarie and the Gold Coast. See;


Pinetrees Lodge is a full-service journey lodge. Rooms from $510 an individual per evening together with island airport transfers and all meals. See

Elspeth Callender travelled as a visitor of Pinetrees Lodge.