A Short Imprisonment on Norfolk Island

Day 1 Thursday

In these Covid times travel overseas is out of the question except for the overseas territories of Australia but even those can be subject to irrational shutdowns because of outbreaks of the contagion. In the case of Norfolk, it was the outbreak in Auckland that caused Air New Zealand to cancel our flights to Norfolk, but Qantas came to our rescue in the nick of time.

So, we departed Brisbane on 18th February 2021 for the short 1 hour 55-minute trip by air to Norfolk. I was interested to visit the former British penal colony and home of the Pitcairn Is families of mutiny on the HMS Bounty fame and one of Australia’s external territories.

Norfolk Island located in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and New Caledonia, 1,412 kilometres (877 mi) directly east of Brisbane and about 900 kilometres (560 mi) from Lord Howe Island. Together with the neighbouring Phillip Island and Nepean Island, the three islands collectively form the Territory of Norfolk Island. At the 2016 census, it had 1748 inhabitants living on a total area of about 35 km2 (14 sq mi). Phillip Island and Nepean Island are uninhabited. Its capital was Sydney but changed name to Kingston and since 1856 Burnt Pine is now the capital.

We landed at Norfolk Is/Burnt Pine international Airport. The airport was built by Australia and New Zealand during WWII as a base for the NZ “N” force but abandoned when they realised it was too far from the action. Fortuitous for Norfolk Island. After walking across the tarmac and collecting our luggage we boarded our ride to the apartment. It was at this time that we experienced the weather that would continue until the afternoon of Wednesday week – windy overcast and occasional drizzle. The Norfolkers were not unhappy as they have been through a dry spell.

Burnt Pine Airport

We travelled to Aloha Apartments 5 mins from the airport and dropped off the first six visitors leaving Kerry and me with Col and Gloria going to Panorama Oceanview Apartments another 5 minutes away but on the southern side of Norfolk Island. We drove south into the main street of Burnt Pine, Taylor’s Rd, and out again rather quickly onto Queen Elizabeth Avenue and down Middlegate Rd to the Apartments awkwardly placed on a bend in the road but with elevated views of Nepean and Phillip Islands, the old penal settlement of Kingston and the beaches.

the Apartments and the view

They have some great tourist innovations like delivering your hire car to your apartment in advance of your arrival with the keys in the ignition ready to go. You register at the apartments, put your luggage away and then you check in at the hire car office. So, we saw our mulberry coloured 7 seat corolla for the first time as we collected our room key.

Our Mulberry Toyota

The Apartments are very tired and musty smelling something you don’t expect or want but the views – wow! So, we settled in and then went to the Governor’s Residence (a resort between our apartment and the main street) to book in for the car. We decided to take the excess reducing insurance not aware that no one locks their cars and collisions are infrequent. Norfolk is 1 hour ahead of us in Brisbane and on daylight saving time so it’s now 4.00pm and apart from a light breakfast at 6.00am we have not had any lunch.

Hunger drives us to the Bowls Club in Taylor’s Rd – the kitchen opens at 5.30pm. Time for a drink. So we position ourselves for easy access to the kitchen/dining room and watch the world go by – at least the NI world. We meet Ray and Lorraine travellers like us and share a meal then wind our way back to the Apartments.

Very soon we are curled up in bed listening to the wind and rain hoping that tomorrow we are off to Pinetree tours for a half day sight-seeing of the Island.