Lord Howe Island was discovered on 17th February, 1788 by Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball, commander of the armed tender of the First Fleet, HMS Supply.

Early Settlement

From 1800 onward, Lord Howe Island became a well known stopover for whaling ships to obtain food and water. In 1833 three men came to live on the island to supply food to the ships crews.


Although control of Lord Howe Island was first vested in the British Crown, and later in the Parliament of New South Wales, the earliest settlers appear to have been too distant to warrant much attention from the authorities.

Flying Boats

After WW II various companies started flying boat services around Australia and the Pacific.

Trans Oceanic Airways began the first commercial passenger service to Lord Howe Island in 1947.

Shipping Days

Being a remote island 500 km from any other land, Lord Howe Island has a rich maritime heritage. During the early settlement the residents of Lord Howe Island relied upon passing ships to bring news of the outside world, supplies and passengers.


Eleven vessels are listed as having been lost on Lord Howe Island, with another dozen or so lost enroute. This map shows the location of the major wrecks around the island.

The Palm Industry

The Kentia palm (known locally as the thatch palm, as it was used to thatch the houses of the early settlers) is now the most popular decorative palm in the world.


The main industry on Lord Howe Island today is tourism, and most residents are involved directly through accommodation and tour services, or fishing and maintenance of lodges.



Lord Howe Island and Ball’s Pyramid are the last remnants of two volcanic seamounts that formed around 7 million years ago.

Geologists believe that there were two main volcanic episodes in the formation of Lord Howe Island.


Lord Howe Island has a subtropical maritime climate. The seasons change gradually: winters are cool and wet with even rainfall; summers are warm and mild with fairly high but less regular falls of rain.



One of the most intriguing processes in nature is the colonisation of Islands by plants and animals. 

How do these tiny, remote specks in the ocean become populated by myriads of plants and animals?


Lord Howe Island is a world leader in island conservation.

The NSW Government has recognised the unique flora and fauna of the island, from 1870 when the island was declared a Forest Reserve, culminating with World Heritage Listing in 1982.


The biodiversity on Lord Howe Island is extraordinary! On this tiny island there are 240 species of native vascular plants, over 100 moss species; over 200 different species of birds; around three to four thousand species of invertebrates; over 500 species of fish, more than 70 species of echinoderms; hundreds of species of molluscs… the list goes on and on.


Since the very early days of its settlement, Lord Howe Island has been the subject of extraordinary interest from the scientific community.

Today, the Museum regularly hosts national and international scientific programs, and is the venue for frequent symposia, and the base for many and varied research projects.


The Lord Howe Island Museum has been holding Citizen Science programs since 2001, encompassing projects such as bird-watching, beach plastic monitoring, algae identification, seabird rescue, sea-slug photography and weed removal.


The Lord Howe white gallinule - now extinct



The Museum holds an extensive collection of scientific journals with papers on various research topics related to the island. These include the flora, invertebrates, seabirds, landbirds, marine life, geology and conservation of the island, and of Middleton and Elizabeth Reefs.

More recent articles have been digitised as PDFs. Many older ones are original documents, which we plan to scan and add as searchable PDFs to the collection that will be available on computers at the museum.


The Lord Howe Island Museum newsletter is published monthly, and contains a wide variety of news, articles about the history of the island, and summaries of recent events of scientific and environmental interest.

Check out our latest newsletter.

Newsletter No 10
Newsletter No 10
Newsletter No 11
Newsletter No 11
Newsletter No 12
Newsletter No 12

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The Museum Curator, Ian Hutton regularly posts articles of interest in his blogs, both on this website and on his personal site:
Lord Howe Tours

Being a prolific photographer he also frequently posts images to Facebook:
Ian Hutton’s Facebook Page