|Country Information & Lifestyle|
Voyage of Our Fathers
Welcome to historic Norfolk island, a small volcanic island lying in the Pacific Ocean about 1,600 km of Sydney, Australia between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia and with its two neighbouring islands form one of Australia's external territories.
Norfolk Island is the main island of the group of three highly isolated islands and is the only non-mainland Australian territory to have achieved self-governance.
The majority of the terrain is suitable for farming and other agricultural uses and the coastline consists of cliff faces and a downward slope exists towards Sydney Bay and Emily Bay, the site of the original colonial settlement of Kingston.
There are no safe harbour facilities on the island with loading jetties existing at Kingston and Cascade Bay. Emily Bay is protected from the Pacific Ocean by a small coral reef, and is the only safe area for swimming, although surfing waves can sometimes be found in Ball Bay.
Mt.Bates is the highest point on the island and the area surrounding is preserved as the Norfolk Island National Park. The park covers around 10% of the island and contains remnants of the forests which originally covered the island including stands of sub-tropical rain forest. The park also includes the two smaller islands, Philip and Nepean.
The climate is subtropical and mild with little seasonal difference with lovely summer days from 24 degrees not exceeding 28,4 with nights 19-21. Idyllic mid-winter days have temperatures from 12 at night to 19-21 during the day, an absolutely perfect climate.
The major settlement on the island is Burnt Pine, located predominantly along Taylor's Road where the shopping centre, post office, liquor store, telephone exchange and community hall are located. Settlement also exists over much of the island and consists largely of widely-separated homesteads. Kingston is the capital where you will find a good selection of shops, banks etc.
The island was a penal colony of the British colony of New South Wales during 1788-1814 and 1825-1855, and in 1856 was settled by the former inhabitants of the second largest of the Pitcairn Islands. The Pitcairn Islanders were descendants of Fletcher Christian and Bounty mutineers, together with Tahitian women.
Pitcairn Island was unable to support 200 inhabitants, and Queen Victoria offered them Norfolk Island. Permanent residents of Norfolk Island are still almost entirely descendants of these Pitcairn Islanders; other Australian citizens cannot move to Norfolk Island freely.
The island is home to around 1800 permanent residents of which 35% are descendants of the most famous naval mutiny in modern history - HMS Bounty. The descendants of the Bounty and their Tahitian wives brought their own language with them when they migrated to Norfolk Island and Norfolk is a unique mixture of 18th century English and Polynesian. English is the most commonly used language on the island, however you will hear the islanders talk to one another in Norfolk.
During the second World War an airstrip was built on the island and with easier access tourism developed to the point where it became the mainstay of the economy although farming and fishing are still important aspects of island life.
June 8, Bounty Day, is the most significant date in Norfolk Island calendar each year and is a public holiday where the people of Norfolk Island celebrate the arrival of their forebears. Bounty Day has not altered over generations and even today the food, friendship and style of clothing still portray the traditions of yesteryear.
One of the features of the day is the re-enactment of the landing of the Pitcairn people on Norfolk Island, and the procession march through the historic ruins at Kingston.
The botanic garden is a great place to explore and learn about Norfolk Island's plants and animals. Wander through the cultivated gardens to see a display of Norfolk Island's unique plants, and then take a stroll along some of the beautiful walking trails to see the plants in their natural environment and maybe even see some of Norfolk's amazing bird life. A large aviary houses some of Norfolk Island's endangered green parrots - a species found no where else in the world.
Island dancing, music, singing, basket weaving, and arts and crafts also remain very important elements of the Norfolk Island culture. Norfolk Islanders also have their own unique cuisine and you can taste local dishes such as Pilhai (baked kumera), Mudda (banana dumplings), and Hihi Pie (made with periwinkles).
Philip Island, the second largest island in the territory, is 7 km south of the main island and a place of natural beauty, sandy beaches, tranquil wetlands and unique wildlife. The Penguin Parade experience is sure to be the highlight of your visit! As the sun fades in the sky, the little penguins waddle up the beach to the safety of their homes in the sand dunes. Witness this magical procession, it is a treat never forgotten!
Stroll the Nobbies boardwalk to view the majestic rugged south coast and blowhole Towering gums at the Koala Conservation Centre, and woodlands of the Oswin Roberts Reserve provide a safe home for the island's koala population. Koalas can be viewed at the close viewing area and treetop boardwalk at the visitor centre.
Philip Island's main historic attraction is Churchill Island - a tiny 57 hectare island where there is a historic working farm with its original homestead dating from 872 which is open to the public. The island is connected by bridge to Philip Island and is the site of the first European settlement in Victoria.
Deliciously fragrant gardens surround the historical homestead amidst a variety of bird life. The island is a working farm with Highland cattle, sheep, ducks, chickens and Clydesdale horses. The island adjoins the 670 ha Churchill Island Marine National Park.
Nepean Island is a small uninhabited island about 1 km south off a golf course on Norfolk Island in the Southwest Pacific. It was named in 1788 for Evan Nepean, Under Secretary of the Home Department of the United Kingdom. It is part of the Australian territory of Norfolk Island and is included in the Norfolk Island National Park and about 10% of Norfolk Island proper. The island is made of calcareous rock and is a breeding site for several species of seabirds.
Norfolk Island has a single airport occupying much of the south-east of the island and is served by two airlines: Air Zealand and Norfolk Air. Flying time from Auckland is just under two hours, from Melbourne just over three hours and from Brisbane, Newcastle and Sydney about two and half hours. There is no regular passenger service to Norfolk Island by sea. Cruise Ships occasionally call at Norfolk Island.
Norfolk Island, unsurprisingly, is famous for its seafood, which is generally caught fresh by most of the restaurants on the island. The local trumpeter is a particular delicacy. There is a wide range of other food available on the island, including both Italian and Chinese cuisine and local specialities are generally based on traditional Polynesian dishes.
There is no public transport but a taxi service is available. A rental car is the most practical way to get around the island and mountain bikes can also be hired.
Norfolk Island National Park welcomes visitors to explore its stunning scenery and rich diversity of bird life. Walking tracks wind through lush palm forests, stands of Norfolk pine and along the coastal fringe. Take in the incredible island views from Mt Pitt and Mt Bates, the two highest points on the island and visit the Captain Cook monument and lookout platform for spectacular coastline views.
Norfolk Island is a unique experience and this isolated community has so much to offer the visitor and resident, steeped in history, with superb climate and friendly folk it is an experience you should not miss.