Another situation I was confronted with when I moved to Lord Howe was a few unusual car rules. With such a small population and a 25km/h speed limit, Lord Howe has developed a few unwritten rules which new members to the community learn quickly.
Should you be driving your car and another car is coming towards you, it is perfectly acceptable to stop side by side with the other car, wind down your windows and have a conversation.
This in itself is not strange, especially for a quiet road on the mainland. You might have done this yourself.
However, the unusual part is how to react if you are waiting behind one of the cars having a conversation. Should you interrupt the conversation by beeping your horn or gesturing to the drivers you are waiting to get past, this is seen as the height of rudeness on Lord Howe Island. In theory, no one should be in a rush here so there’s no need to do that when a conversation is in process.
This situation literally happened to my family and I when we arrived on the Island for the first time. On the drive from the airport, two cars stopped to have a conversation in front of us. The lady who picked us up told me about the unwritten rule and waited politely for them to finish. At the time I though she was joking about the rule, but then it happened a second time on the drive home!
Lord Howe prides itself as a safe and honest community. People don’t lock their doors here and kids ride their bikes to school. An extension of these community values is all Island residents leave their car keys in their cars – another unwritten rule on the Island.
The thought process behind this is that someone might need to move your car or use it in an emergency. You can’t physically drive the car to the mainland, and everyone is honest here and would have a valid reason for using it.
If you don’t leave your keys in your car, and the car needs to be moved for some reason this can lead to much speculation and annoyance within our community. This situation happened at the Golf Club once, when an Islander took his keys with him to the club house. Someone needed to move his car over slightly so they could fit their car into the car park. Because this couldn’t be done, the driver had to park their car 200 meters down the road. As expected, the driver let the Islander know they were most annoyed at the inconvenience which occurred!