First settled in 1834, Lord Howe Island is still largely untouched forest, mainly due to the rugged terrain and the Island's isolation.

The first recorded sighting of Lord Howe Island was made by Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball on 17 February 1788 aboard the HMS Supply as she sailed between Sydney Cove and Norfolk Island. On the return journey, Ball landed on the Island and claimed it as a British possession. He gave it the name of the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Howe. He named Mt Lidgbird and Balls Pyramid after himself.

For many years, the Island was visited regularly but briefly by government ships sailing from Sydney to Norfolk Island, and by whalers operating in the Middle grounds as the waters between Australia and New Zealand were called. Whalers came in search of fresh water and food, trapping numerous tame land birds who had, until this time, lived without fear of man. Most of the endemic land birds are now extinct; at least three species were lost in the slaughter for food. Pigs and goats were let free on the island to add to the food supply, and they too have taken their toll on the environment.

In 1834, the first settlers arrived - three men with their Maori wives, and two lads. They lived by trading fresh vegetables, meat and fish with the passing ships. Not surprisingly, many of the following settlers were seafaring men. One of the first reports on the Island, made by Dr John Foulis in 1851, describes a community of about 16 persons residing on the Island, some of them having a wife and family.

When the whaling industry collapse in the 1870s, the islanders began exporting the kentia palm, valued as a popular ornamental pot plant in Europe and North America.

In 1893 the Burns Philp company commenced a regular shipping service and small numbers of tourists began to visit the Island. In 1932 the SS Morinda began a regular tourist run. Tourism gradually became a major industry although the sale of palm seeds remained important and still today provides a sizeable income for the community.

On 14 December 1982, Lord Howe Island was officially inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Today, regular flights from Brisbane and Sydney mean a steady stream of visitors can enjoy an unforgettable holiday on the island, that is still to this day largely untouched since Lieutenant Ball's day.