Another unique part of Lord Howe Island culture is that all island motorists wave to each other whilst driving around the Island. They also wave at locals or tourists walking or riding on the road. Waving to each other is expected from members of the local community and a non-wave can lead to much confusion and speculation.
If people don’t wave to each other, there’s generally two reasons:
The first is because the driver hasn’t been here very long and hasn’t yet realised waving is expected. Most imports to the island work out quickly they need to wave, as it’s a part of fitting into the community. However, there are a few instances where non-waving has continued to occur.
An example of this was a new manager who started at one of the large lodges on the island. Several long serving staff members brought his ‘non-waving’ to his attention, but he decided he just wasn’t going to do it. This caused a bit of controversy on the island and the locals gave him the nickname of ‘The Non-waver’. The Non-waver didn’t last very long on Lord Howe.
The other reason is that both drivers genuinely don’t like each other, or there’s some sort of conflict between them.
Certain island families, and sometimes even members of the same family, don’t wave to each other for this reason. Although not publicly applauded, the action of non-waving under these circumstances is accepted by the local community as the local in question must strongly believe a non-wave is warranted.
Further to this It can be very confusing to a local if another local doesn’t wave, yet there’s no known friction between them. I have witnessed a waving driver drive home and then call a non-waving driver to check everything was okay between them.
I’ve now been on the island almost 9 years. If someone doesn’t wave at me in the car, I absolutely rack my brain thinking to think of any sort of conflict between us that would deserve a non-wave. I too have been tempted to call the driver in question just to make sure they aren’t annoyed at me for some reason!
I wonder if there’s a waving expectation like this anywhere else in Australia?