Discover Norfolk Island
on 28 Apr 2016
Back in 1789, a chap called Fletcher Christian did a bad, bad thing. Disaffected crew aboard the HMS Bounty, led by Christian seized control of the ship from their captain William Bligh and set him and 18 loyalists adrift. The mutineers variously settled on Tahiti or Pitcairn Island.
Fast forwarding to the 1850s, the 35sq2 pine-studded Norfolk Island located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia, and at least 900 kilometres from anywhere, was an extreme convict penal settlement in full swing since 1789. After 1855, prisoners were shipped off to Van Diemen's Land and Queen Victoria handed Norfolk Island over to the descendants of the mutineers from the HMS Bounty – who had outgrown their adopted Pitcairn Island. Today, about a third of the present population is descended from the 194 Pitcairners and their Tahitian wives who arrived on 8 June 1856. It is the legendary story of the Mutiny and that so many Norfolk islanders are descendants of these very mutineers, that lends a certain cachet to this picture perfect South Pacific paradise.
The capital, Kingston, built by convicts is located on Slaughter Bay on the island's south coast. Many historic buildings have been restored – the best of these, along Quality Row, still house the island's administrators, as well as some engaging museums. There is also a poignantly beautiful convict cemetery.
Bounty Folk Museum is stuffed to the gunnels with a motley collection of convict-era and Bounty souvenirs. Fletcher's Mutiny Cyclorama is a 360-degree panoramic painting depicting the Bounty mutiny and Norfolk Island history.
The town that services most of the island - Burnt Pine is in the centre of the island, near the airport, while Norfolk Island National Park – great for bushwalking encompasses the hillier northern part of the island. The sheltered beach at pretty Emily Bay in the south, from where glass-bottom boats depart to view the Technicolor coral below is a good swimming spot. The island also offers cycling, boating, golfing, diving and fishing.
The best way to see and enjoy Norfolk is to book a package inclusive of accommodation and array of attractions. Re-enactments of the Mutiny, a giant fish fry supper at Puppies Point and progressive dine-around dinners with hosts that are descendants of the mutineers make for a unique stay.
Whilst fresh, air-freighted milk might be $8.80 a litre, liquor store prices are enticingly duty-free! Cows have right of way, residents rarely have front door keys and the top speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour. It is these little quirks, the resplendent beauty and rich history of this island gem that makes Norfolk a very special place to visit.
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