Public Internet

A new public internet service is available on Lord Howe Island. Thornleigh Farm and Pro Dive Lord Howe Island have teamed up to deliver public internet access on Lagoon Beach.

Anyone can access the internet by joining the ‘Public Internet’ WiFi network on their laptop, tablet, phone, or other WiFi enabled device. Data packs are offered for $10 per gigabyte.

The Public Internet network covers approximately 48,000 square metres of forest, beach, and farm.  Coverage starts at the Far Rocks, and continues about 750m down Lagoon Beach to just past the Aquatic club.

Coverage also extends hundreds of metres out into the lagoon, which makes for some hilarious kayak + video call possibilities.

 

Purchase screen offered after joining the Public Internet network

No user account is required to access the internet. All you need is a credit or debit card, and email with which to receive a receipt. You can monitor your usage with built-in graphs, and refund the unused portion of your data at any time.

Since November, we have been quietly testing the service. So far we’ve served over 60 customers using a multitude of different devices. Results have been good, which is why we are confident about announcing the availability of the service now.

Cat 6 network switch
Some of the gizmometry that’s humming away to deliver the Public Internet

We have developed this service entirely in house at Thornleigh Farm: It is a bespoke system that runs on software written on Lord Howe Island, specifically for island conditions. You won’t find a public WiFi network using this software anywhere else in the world.

Our sincere and profuse thanks got Pro Dive Lord Howe Island for partnering with us to deliver the service. Without Aaron and Lisa, the network would not cover nearly as much of Lagoon Beach as it does.

The Pro Dive shed acts as the northernmost node of the network

Word has it that the best use of the Public Internet is to post selfies from Pro Dive’s boat, Pinnacle.

Heartwarming

During winter Thornleigh hosted an unexpected guest: A White Tern named Chickpea. Chickpea is the most adorable thing in the world.

Walking down Lagoon Road with Chickpea

Chickpea was found on the ground near Thompson’s Store. At the time, she was a little grey ball of fluff, a baby only a few weeks old. White Terns lay single eggs on horizontal branches with no nest. If they fall off before they grow up, they are usually done for.

Hello human, what are you doing?

Not Chickpea. She was rescued by a kind islander, and had various homes before ending up with Brenden and Kira at Thornleigh. Her friends and family had all migrated north by the time she was able to fly.

We have taken control of the device from the human

Chickpea loves squid, baitfish, and cuddles. She sat on my hand as I worked at my laptop, making soft melodic contented noises. Each morning she flew away to fish and explore, and each evening she came home to the farm to sleep.

Snuggles

One day, Chickpea did not come home. White Terns instinctively fly north in the cold weather. While she grew up very late in the season, Chickpea no doubt felt pulled by those instincts. We think she most likely flew off to find her friends.

Having a bite to eat on Robert’s arm

She left behind many melted hearts, and we hope she will come back to visit us in summer.

The Night’s Watch

Ned’s Beach, Lord Howe Island, is a quintessential island paradise. Crystal clear water, coral growing right up to the shoreline, wonderful multi-coloured fish and soft white sand. It is a great spot for diving, snorkelling, and enjoying the sunshine.

Ned’s Beach during the day. The dark formations under the water are coral.

Yet what happens at Ned’s when the sun goes down? As it turns out, it’s a great place to go for a SCUBA dive. In the pitch black darkness.

Jessica and Aaron running through safety checks as the sun slips below the horizon

Pro Dive Lord Howe Island offers Advanced diver training courses. Advanced certification requires a diver to train in three specialties, such as precision buoyancy, underwater navigation, or night diving.

Jessica and Aaron walking down to the waters edge

Aaron, Pro Dive’s proprietor, Divemaster, and all-round diving expert, took Jessica out for her first training session. Somehow, neither diver displayed an iota of fear as they marched into the water.

Jessica and Aaron preparing to slide beneath the waves

As Aaron and Jessica swam out toward the open ocean, their dive-lights threw arcs of white light across the coral below.

Dive lights illuminating the inky black waters of Ned’s beach at night

Apparently, nighttime is a glorious time to dive. Sleeping sea-turtles, nocturnal critters, and snoozing fish await the diver brave enough seek them out. Your correspondent wouldn’t know, as he remained safely (and warmly) perched on the shore.

The stars illuminating Ned’s Beach in the evening

Even for a land-lubber observer, Ned’s at night throws up island delights. The stars come out, giving an anxious dive-support-crew something to ponder while they wait for brave underwater explorers to return.

Dive lights and stars at Ned’s Beach