No time off for good behaviour – Imprisonment on Norfolk Island

Day 8 Thursday

Good news we will fly home tomorrow via Qantas – good old Qantas to the rescue. Some further good news a local Kingfisher has stopped for a rest in the yard below us. The neighbours who arrived Wednesday and are here for bird watching and getting very excited of portents to come.

So, time for a swim at Emily Beach, a walk to Lone Pine, a walk through the Pitcairn Islanders Village (which is closed of course), and various other things to fill our day.

Emily Beach is the preferred swimming beach for the Island. Sheltered with a sandy beach and tucked up in front of the Polynesian ruins and beside Kingston, it is the choice of most locals. The school ran a carnival that day and all the kids appeared excited – a day off school at the beach. The water was nice and clear, the sand a little more course than the Gold Coast and shallow with out wave action because of the bordering stone benches stopping the waves.

Beside the beach the headland reaches out to Nepean Island and beyond Phillip Island both uninhabited. On this headland is a lone pine tree and hence the name nothing to do with the Dardanelles and the WW1 campaign at Gallipoli. On the other side of Emily Bay is Slaughter Bay and the Sirius monument. HMS Sirius was the flagship of the First Fleet, which set out from Portsmouth, England, in 1787 to establish the first European colony in New South Wales. In 1790, the ship was wrecked on the reef, south east of Kingston Pier, in Slaughter Bay, Norfolk Island and this monument identifies the spot.

Behind the monument is Norfolk Island’s historic Government House—built in 1829 and handsomely restored—is generally not open to the public. It is now the Administrator’s residence. Whilst we are down this way we go to Bloody Bridge and check on the progress of the baby Tropic Bird. Its doing really well.

Photos

We drive around to the Pitcairn Islander Historic Village principally to see if we can get lunch at this restaurant that never seemed to be open and when it did, we could not get a table. It was not open, so we walked through Queen Victoria’s Gardens adjoining the restaurant and then to the Village which was also closed but we were taken by the colourful and large hibiscus bushes.

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The day is coming to an end, so we look at the map to see where we have not been. Marsh’s Rd at Ball Bay stands out. We determine to check on the red tail tropic bird at the foot of the huge pine tree on our way there and sure enough he’s there and growing quickly.

The map does not identify anything significant at Ball Bay, but we have time to kill and drive to Ball Bay. Here we find the port where petroleum is brought to shore, not by a pier or a tender but by an underwater pipe pumped directly into tanks on shore.

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Farewell to Norfolk from the terminal. We enjoyed the break, and it was something I had on my bucket list to do. I am certain I would return but the slowness of life on the island would not suit Kerry at all.

A Short Imprisonment on Norfolk Island

Day 7 Wednesday

What experiences await us today? A bus trip to Hundred Acre reserve then Ona Cliffe (we were there last night), breakfast, a bus trip to Captain Cook monument, bus trip back to Taylor’s Road and then what? You will have to wait and see.

Hundred Acre Reserve – we entered it by the alternate entrance as though the driver knew we had been here before. We made our way down to the point called Rocky Point and there we found Boobie chicks sitting in their nests waiting for Mum or Dad to come home with breakfast. Completely unafraid they sat there as we trundled past. The track on this side was not as wet as the previous occasion we visited but still we had to scrape the mud off as we reboarded the bus. Then off to breakfast and I was more taken by the breakfast catering vehicle than the breakfast, so I grabbed some photos. I also explored a little further and came across an enclosure for groups when the tourists are running hot presumably.

Photos

Then onto to the bus and we travel to the north-west of the island a few miles east from Howe Point where we saw the flying wedge tailed shearwater. After the bus lets us alight we are greeted by a stunning vista looking west to Point Howe. We then walk due north to the monument. It a rudimentary stone cairn with a plaque on it. The plaque tells us this is his second voyage of discovery. This voyage was designed to circumnavigate the globe as far south as possible to finally determine whether there was any great southern landmass, or Terra Australis. In the course of the voyage, he visited Easter Island, the Marquesas, Tahiti, the Society Islands, Niue, the Tonga Islands, the New Hebrides, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Palmerston Island, South Sandwich Islands, and South Georgia, many of which he named in the process.

Photos

My photos also show Moo-oo Stone, Green Pool stone and Cathedral Rock. As we climb back to the bus we pass some pine trees draped in grandpa’s whiskers. This is quite a regular sight but often difficult to photograph. We board the bus and head for Burnt Pine central which is the name of the centre of the Island and where you will find the shops. My photos give you an idea of the “cbd” Norfolk Island. Whilst we were shopping Kerry put down her bag with her phone credit cards cash but not her passport. It was not until we went to a café for lunch that she found it was missing. After a lot of searching and help from locals (including placing an ad on the local radio) Kerry decided she would go to the Police station and report it missing with no expectations. Well, there she found it. Some unknown local had handed it in – joy oh joy! It may not be the most exciting or professional tourism spot on the globe, but it would have to have the most honest residents.

Photos

Whilst we were at breakfast there was a Covid outbreak in NZ and flights home were cancelled – de je vu! So, we have any day in paradise.

A Short Imprisonment on Norfolk Island

Day 4 Sunday

It was still windy, raining intermittently and grey overhead. We had planned to visit St Barnabas Chapel and then go on to the craft market. So, we went to church for the Sunday mass to see the church again and mix a little with the locals after church. Bindi was helping out on the morning tea.

The foundation stone was laid in November 1875, but the building was not completed until June 1880. The mission church, St Barnabas Chapel, was built as a memorial to Bishop Patterson who was killed by natives in the Solomon Islands in 1871. The chapel is simply beautiful. The four windows in the apse depict the four evangelists, the seats are carved and inlaid with Christian symbols in mother-o’-pearl, polished black and white marble paves the broad aisle leading to the sanctuary, which naturally is the most beautiful portion of the chapel, with its coloured marble floor, and glittering mosaic reredos screened with richly-carved wood. In the centre is a massive silver cross that has been made out of Bishop Patterson’s own table-silver, and this is flanked by silver candlesticks and vases of flowers.

After the mass we walked across to the hall where Bindi was serving coffee and cake. We collected our coffee and cake and started to mingle. We were mixing very well, until we were joined by a tall, stooped man who seemed to make everyone else fade away. He started to espouse the benefits of Christianity and we realised he was the local “bible basher”. Still, we enjoyed experiencing a Sunday mass Norfolk Island style. Our photos show some of the architecture and stained glass of St Barnabas Chapel which seemed very out of keeping with the rest of the Island’s architecture. In the fields surrounding the church was a monument which we were told marked the original church graveyard and the modern graveyard was within the church grounds.

The Chapel,the marbled aisle, stained glass, the original cemetery and the tree obscuring the toilets

Our plans to go to the craft market changed. We decided to do some independent touring. The highest point on the island is Mt Bates at 321m above sea level and there is a walk to the peak from the 2nd highest point Mt Pitt. So, we started today with a drive downtown then up Grassy Rd onto Mt Pitt Rd to the peak 320m above sea level.

Our walk of 500m will give us a view to the north of the island. At the peak of Pitt there is a grassy knoll with picnic table and a vehicle round-about circling the grassy knoll. To the east is the track to Mt Bates.  Shaded by the abundant growth along the track Kerry spotted butterflies and spent some time trying to photograph them. The walk was quite easy and relaxing. From here you could see the runway of the airport houses and ocean.

During WW II a radar station was set up on Mt Bates. There is little to tell the tale, but you can go and view the cement slab on which the radar shack once stood and observe a derelict piece of machinery which played some role in the operation. Then you climb to the peak of Mt Bates where there is another grassy observation platform from which you can observe the modern telecommunication dishes on Mt Pitt, the ocean and some houses. Nothing really remarkable. There are a number of paths leading away from the peak to who knows where, so we elected to return by the route whence we came. As we returned, we pass some tourists like us taking a stroll from Pitt to Bates. These are the only people we will see on the walk. We arrive at Pitt get in the car just as the rain commenced to fall, look at one another and ask what now. Before revealing the next adventure, here are my photos.

From the top of Mt Pitt, follow the walking track, pass the remenents of the radar station, to the top of Mt Bates and view the radio towers on Mt Pitt then walk back (having a little rest) passed the wall of caged rocks and back to Mt Pitt.

We decided we would look at the north west of the island so we drove along Mt Pitt Rd into Mission Rd and partway along spotted a local “honesty stop” offering local honey jams and fruits. We both immediately thought of suggesting this style of selling to Mrs Hayes for all her surplus jams and pickles. I cannot recall what we bought probably local honey and pushed on to Ona Cliffe taking a righthand turn to Anson Bay Rd. I am pretty sure this was the first time we spotted the Sunset Bar at Puppies’s Point. It was closed at the time but we noted the opening hours and the owner spotted us taking a booking for the following evening. We pulled in at the park overlooking Anson Bay and moved onto the Gun Club. There are two establishments side by side – the pistol club and the clay target club – both perched on Anson Point home to a Masked Booby colony. There is a fence on the cliff edge to keep people and cattle from falling in the many Booby holes where they nest. The birds were not frightened by people and I was able to get very close to them. They are quite a large bird and certainly seem to have worked out how to share its habitat with Sapiens.

The honesty box, Anson bay, the wall of Anson Bay, the Booby nests and the occupants and the opposite wall of Anson Bay

We drove on to Point Howe following the wind and standing in a howling gale we spotted a wedged tail shearwater. Watch the ocean at sunset and you may sight a shearwater floating on the water or on the air currents before coming ashore just after nightfall. Known to the locals as ‘ghost birds’, you can hear their moaning calls echoing across the island at night. Shearwaters cover vast distances during their annual migration, travelling as far as 300 km a day on their way to Norfolk to breed.

Photos of Anson Point and Point Howe

We visited Cottage Pottery at the very end of Anson Road opposite Fisherman’s Lane before heading back to the Sunset Bar. Cottage Pottery and Art Gallery is in the backyard of a house on one of the remoter parts of the Island, but it is not the backyard pottery shop. The proprietor Steve Ryves told us that they were noted for producing high fired stoneware and porcelain. Steve is the potter and Alison paints and makes jewellery. Their work is exhibited in a gallery attached to the pottery. As you enter there is a pen of kids (goats). It turns out that their daughter has the main herd and produces goats cheese of some quality and renown on the Island. We promised ourselves we would find her farm as she does tastings but alas it was not to be.

The Sunset Bar near Puppies Point is a relaxed outdoor licensed venue providing full bar facilities with tasty platters (both hot and cold),exotic cocktails, stunning sea views and Great music and vibe. It looks like a house on a large block until opening hours when the locals and tourists book to visit for dinner as the sun sets. The trio on guitars entertained us but all looked familiar – I think one was our bus driver on one occasion.

We sat with a couple who managed one of the accommodation resorts on the island shared a few drinks and something to eat but it was all a bit tame. They had not advertised that they were opening so they only attracted the locals (on purpose is my guess), it was overcast, and the sunset was obscured – so there were a few reasons it was a bit flat and quiet. After driving home, we decided it would be a good night to read a book at the unit.

Photos

A Short Imprisonment on Norfolk Island

Day 6 Tuesday

Having visited Colleen McCullough’s home and confirming that she was buried in the cemetery at Kingston, we thought we had better go and look again because we had missed it. It did not take long to find it when we knew that it was supposed to be there. A rather underwhelming headstone for probably the most internationally famous person on the Island but perhaps says something of the person or that her husband was a cheap arse and didn’t want to pay for anything elaborate or they wanted to avoid fans flocking to the cemetery or …. I could go on, but I won’t. We don’t know why, and it probably doesn’t matter to Colleen one bit. However, we did find the elaborate headstone for a local entertainer no one outside of Norfolk has heard of and good for him in death he has made his mark.

While we were down in Kingston, we thought we may as well investigate the ruins of the second settlement. And there were plenty of ruins. Traditional long boats, usually towed by motorised launches lie about some beyond repair. These are the boats used top unload cargo from visiting cargo ships that are visiting less and less. There are two jetties one on the southern side and the other on the north and neither big enough or in water deep enough to receive containerized ships and the world of loading into tenders is fast disappearing. Wild weather also prevents the delivery of cargo, so it is not surprising that the shelves in the supermarket are very scant of product.

Photos

Kingston and its relic buildings are to be found around the southern jetty. You can see the fringing reefs and understand why no ships of any size want to try and unload or load cargo here. Thank God for the aerodrome otherwise the Island would have to become self-sustaining. I have pictured some of the buildings and the reefs and rock shelves that are a barrier to big vessels.

Although the introductory tour had taken us to the northern jetty Cascade Pier we wanted to go back now that we had a better understanding of the operations of the pier. It is due north along Middlegate Road past the school and down Cascade Road to an open bay with far less natural shelter than Kingston Pier. From the conversations with locals we knew the Australian Government had at the islanders request extended the pier and fitted the large blue crane and the smaller boat crane to the pier but they all complained they installed the crane the wrong way round with the larger crane being almost useless in its present position. From what I could see on an average day with a strong wind and drizzly rain the whole pier was useless. We later found the point where petroleum products we offloaded and what a difference in strategy and design suggesting they really want the petrol but not so much anything else.

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The only remanent I could see of the old whaling station is the rusted boiler you can see in my photos above. Beside them is some more Australian taxpayers’ largesse in the form of ferries to bring the cruise passengers ashore but where are the cruise liners?

We had booked a tour called “Tastes of Norfolk” where we visit a farm or two and try the local produce. Well there was some excuse about the farms not able to be visited so we were going to the Sunset Bar where we would have a chat eat some food from their kitchen and drink some grog. Actually, that is probably a fairer representation of the locals than of the “Tastes of Norfolk” and its farms. However, we did get to visit the Beehives of a local beekeeper. All aboard the bus and up the road to the Hundred Acre Reserve and just beside the reserve is the home of the bus driver who took us to Colleen McCullough’s house, and he has a few hives and he gives us a talk about beekeeping, his fruit trees his ducks – you get the feeling this tour business is a home industry.

The final leg of the tour is the green banana cooking. Back on the bus we drive to another home and there on the verandah is a propane burner and some green bananas a young lass clearly of Tahitian extraction and the local Norfolk Is cookbook of all the secret recipes. So we learned that you grate the green bananas make a batter and mix spoonsful in the batter and drop them into the propane heated boiling oil and voila green banana fritters. After this we return to Baunti base and head for home exhausted from so much activity. We will have to prepare ourselves for the famous Fish Fry tonight.

Photos

We had an afternoon siesta back in the bedroom of our apartment before heading back to Taylor’s Road HQ of Pine Tree tours where we catch buses to Ona Cliffe once again. Whilst at the booking office we are told about a change of plans. Tomorrow we go on a cliff top walk to the Captain Cook monument near Moo-oo Stone. Not anymore, the wet weather has forced the cancellation, but we will have a walk in the Hundred Acres reserve, breakfast at Ona Cliffe and bus it to the memorial.

So off we head for the fish fry. The photos of the bedroom and the fish fry are below but there is nothing good to say about the fish or the fry but the sunset was interesting.

A Short Imprisonment on Norfolk Island

Day 5 Monday

We had a bit of a mix up this morning. We found out yesterday that our tour of Colleen McCullough’s home was on Monday not Tuesday. So, a little bit of re-organising and we were doing the house tour with a walk through 100 acres reserve and then Two Chimney Winery and a Progressive dinner.

Colleen McCullough was born in 1937 in Wellington, in the Central West region of New South Wales, of an Irish father and a New Zealander part-Māori mother.

Before her tertiary education, McCullough earned a living as a teacher, librarian and journalist. In her first year of medical studies at the University of Sydney she suffered dermatitis from surgical soap and was told to abandon her dreams of becoming a medical doctor. Instead, she switched to neuroscience and worked at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney.

In 1963, McCullough moved for four years to the United Kingdom; at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, she met the chairman of the neurology department at Yale University who offered her a research associate job at Yale. She spent 10 years (April 1967 to 1976) researching and teaching in the Department of Neurology at the Yale Medical School in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. While at Yale she wrote her first two books. One of these, The Thorn Birds, became an international bestseller and one of the best-selling books in history, with sales of over 30 million copies worldwide.

The success of these books enabled her to give up her medical-scientific career and she settled for the isolation of Norfolk Island. McCullough died on 29 January 2015, at the age of 77, in the Norfolk Island Hospital. She was buried in a traditional Norfolk Island funeral ceremony at the Emily Bay cemetery on the island.

She left her estate which included a house and gave her husband the right to occupy the house for his life I believe. She met her husband, Ric Robinson on Norfolk and married in April 1984. He may have been a naughty boy or so a rumour I heard form the locals has it.

I guess by Norfolk Island standards the house may be a glamourous house. I found it ordinary from the exterior, eclectic in some of its interior and ostentatious in some rooms. Our guide was the housekeeper who seemed to be bored with showing tourists through her house. There was fine glass ware in the dining room but it remined me of the displays in DJs, there was expensive wall papers and expensive looking Asian furniture, but it did not tell me about the author until we got to her office and library. A plain working office and an extensive library of old research books which we could not enter but only observe from the door. The bookcases lined the walls and then were set up in rows. I doubt there was anything other than books and bookcases in the room. There is a covered patio where ferns in baskets hang from the ceiling annoyingly low amongst which also hung Tiffany stained glass lamp shades. We congregated on the patio seating in the available chairs and basically looked at the ferns, the lamp shades and each other for what must have been 30 mins. Our guide answered random questions with short, clipped responses then suddenly arose and led us from the patio through other rooms. I found it weird.

Finally, we left the house to go to the summer house/gift shop where over-priced copies of her books were on sale. Then we boarded the bus to return to the Baunti Tours office. No photos of the interior of the house were permitted but I got a few of the exterior and surrounds which follow.

Colleen McCullough’s house on Norfolk.

We filled in the rest of our time with a walk through the Hundred Acre reserve. Given the wet weather we should have known better as we had to scrap our shoes to be rid of the mud from the walk. The reserve is not natural species, but a former farm replanted mainly with Norfolk pine. A walking track through Hundred Acres Reserve leads to Rocky Point. Home to an observation post during World War II, it’s now a favoured fishing spot among locals. From the cliffs we could see the seabirds as they sweep and soar against the backdrop of the wave-lashed coastline. In the distance, the rocky outline of Phillip Island is visible. However, we were always on edge fearful of slipping in the mud or falling into a Boobie nesting hole.

The most remarkable thing was the avenue of Moreton Bay figs planted along the road passing the reserve. Enormous trees with huge root systems forming a beautiful esplanade of trees. My photos show these trees and their size.

Photos

From there we travelled to the other side of the island to visit the islands only winery – Two Chimneys Winery in Two Chimneys Rd. The tasting room looks like a house with vines in a small vineyard on 3 sides. When we entered there was another couple already tasting the large variety of wines on offer. Yes, I was surprised there was a large variety as there was not much more than ½ acre of vines. Rod was behind the tasting bar so I asked him about the winery.

In May 2002, Roderick, Noelene and Sarlae Buffett McAlpine explored the opportunity of establishing a Boutique Vineyard on the eastern side of Norfolk Island.  In 2003 they planted their first vines on family (Buffett) land at Steeles Point and commenced “Two Chimneys Wines”.  The vineyard enjoys a soft maritime climate and volcanic basalt soils. The vineyard consists of five varietals, Chardonnay, Semillion, Verdelho, Merlot, and Chambourcin. The property is part of the original grant of land to the Buffet family following their arrival as one of the Pitcairners in 1856. The Winery/Cellar Door was officially opened on 13 July 2006.  The building is Norfolk Island style and constructed throughout with Norfolk Island Pine. The Cellar Door opens onto large verandahs that overlook the vines.

After tasting a few of the white wines on offer the truth emerged. Many of the grapes used come from the Hunter region outside Newcastle Australia, which Rod uses to create nearly all of their wines and has it bottled there as well and shipped to Norfolk. Only the Chambourcin grapes is mould resistant which is why they only make the Chambourcin on Norfolk. So I tried the Chambourcin and its not too bad. After about 1 hour there and with no sign of any other customers we said farewell to Rod taking a bottle of very expensive Chambourcin with us.

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That evening we were booked for the progressive dinner. Now amongst friends this concept works nicely so long as you have a dedicated dickhead to drive you from location to location. I was interested to see how this concept was going to operate in a group of 40 strangers visiting 3 different homes for a three-course dinner.

It all started with three buses. We met at Taylors Rd across from the Pine Tree tours office and randomly bundled into one of the three coaches. Coach 1 went one way coach 2 another and coach 3 (our bus) went another way again to pick up guests who had paid that bit extra to get picked up from their accommodation. The we met up with Coach 2 again in Queen Elizabeth Avenue to both travel to Collins Head Rd. Each of the three homes was in this Rd so Coach 1 stopped at home 1, Coach 2 stopped at home 2 etcetera. Then Coach 1 stopped at home two for mains and then home 3 for dessert and so on for each coach.

So logistically it should work. However, these are family homes, and they are not designed for accommodating and cooking for 20 people. So they were uncomfortably small and the meals were very homely. As with all homes some are delightful and others, they are less than desirable, and the meals were the same. An unforgettable night and not in a good way. Would I do it again – No! But you have to try it just for the experience.

Photos

A Short Imprisonment on Norfolk Island

 Day 3 Saturday

We were supposed to get up early and go to the farmers market as there is scant fruit and vegetables available at the supermarkets. Plenty of beef though. They graze in paddocks and on the road verges all over the island. The verges are considered “common” similar to the English system of common land and all over the island cattle graze there, give birth there and some are slaughtered there before being taken to the butcher’s shop. We were told that there was a vet in attendance to ensure the animal was killed efficiently humanely and compassionately but it is an event that school kids may witness going to school or to home. We did not witness this nor did we arise to get to the farmers markets but instead we revisited the Banyan tree and then the cemetery.

In 1824 the British government instructed the Governor of New South Wales, Thomas Brisbane, to occupy Norfolk Island as a place to send “the worst description of convicts”. The convicts detained have long been assumed to be hardcore recidivists, men transported to Australia who committed fresh colonial crimes for which they were sentenced to death but were spared the gallows on condition of life at Norfolk Island. However, a 2011 study of 6458 Norfolk Island convicts, has demonstrated that the reality was that more than half were detained at Norfolk Island without ever receiving a colonial conviction, and only 15% had been reprieved from a death sentence. The overwhelming majority of convicts sent to Norfolk Island had committed non-violent property offences, and the average length of detention there was three years. Norfolk Island went through periods of unrest with convicts staging a number of uprisings and mutinies between 1826 and 1846. The British Government began to wind down the second penal settlement after 1847, and the last convicts were removed to Tasmania in May 1855.

We returned to the Banyan tree in Rooty Hill Rd. The tree is a native of India and brought to this island by immigrants. An enormous tree it needs a paddock to spread through. It is located on private property, so we were wary about entering until the neighbour across the road assured us that it was ok to enter. After taking a few pictures which appear in this blog we went to the cemetery.

That Banyan Tree

We started our visit to the cemetery with a stop at Bloody Bridge. On our tour we had seen a baby Red­tailed Tropic bird in the nest and at the foot of a Norfolk Pine, so we wanted to see if it was still there. The tropic bird is distinguished by it’s single long red tail feather. Yes, the chick was still there. Apart from feral cats and the rats brought to the islands by the Pacific Islanders, there are no predators on Norfolk.

Red Tail Tropic Bird chick and the tree above it

The cemetery contains headstones of military officers, convicts, Pitcairners and Norfolkers the unknown and the famous like Colleen McCullough. Battered by the south easterly winds to the sounds of the crashing of the waves, headstones from 1793 to the present can be found. Many are defaced by the wind so who knows the earliest date on the oldest headstone. I have uploaded my photos so that you can read the headstones for yourself. Here is the history of the island. Note the trees bowed to the wind or are they reading the headstones for themselves?

Bloody Bridge and the road to the Island cemetery and the headstones

The civilian settlement of free settlers began on 8 June 1856, when the descendants of the Tahitians and the HMS Bounty mutineers, including those of Fletcher Christian, were resettled from the Pitcairn Islands, which had become too small for their growing population. On 3 May 1856, 193 people had left Pitcairn Islands aboard the HMS Morayshire. On 8 June, 194 people arrived, a baby having been born in transit. The Pitcairners occupied many of the buildings remaining from the penal settlements, and gradually established traditional farming and whaling industries on the island. Although some families decided to return to Pitcairn in 1858 and 1863, the island’s population continued to grow. They accepted additional settlers, who often arrived on whaling vessels.

After visiting the cemetery, we drove along Quality Row to the first of the two garrison buildings. This building is now used for the Court and the elected Council. A controversy has arisen with Australia dismissing the Norfolk Island Council and appointing an Administrator.

Kerry entered the garrison and ran into Bindi a Norfolk Islander manning the tent embassy inside the garrison, protesting Australia’s interference and protesting for independence for Norfolk Island. Kerry and Bindi seemed to have an immediate connection and when Bindi mentioned coffee they adjourned to the tent for gossip and coffee. I was left to scout around the buildings which I did, and my photo record is uploaded below.

The garrison complex now containing the tent embassy the courts and the council plus the grounds of their revolution

Norfolk Island was the subject of several experiments in administration during the century. It began in the nineteenth century as part of the Colony of New South Wales. On 29 September 1844, Norfolk Island was transferred from the Colony of New South Wales to the Colony of Van Diemen’s Land. On 1 November 1856 Norfolk Island was separated from the Colony of Tasmania (formerly Van Diemen’s Land) and constituted as a “distinct and separate Settlement, the affairs of which should until further Order in that behalf by Her Majesty be administered by a Governor to be for that purpose appointed”. The Governor of New South Wales was constituted as the Governor of Norfolk Island.

On 19 March 1897 the office of the Governor of Norfolk Island was abolished and responsibility for the administration of Norfolk Island was vested in the Governor of the Colony of New South Wales. Yet, the island was not made a part of New South Wales and remained separate. The Colony of New South Wales ceased to exist upon the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901, and from that date responsibility for the administration of Norfolk Island was vested in the Governor of the State of New South Wales.

The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia accepted the territory by the Norfolk Island Act 1913 (Cth), subject to British agreement; British agreement was expressed on 30 March 1914, in a UK Order in Council made pursuant to the Australian Waste Lands Act 1855 (Imp). A proclamation by the Governor-General of Australia on 17 June 1914 gave effect to the Act and the Order as from 1 July 1914. So, Norfolk Island became subject to administration by Australia.

During World War II, the island became a key airbase and refuelling depot between Australia and New Zealand, and New Zealand and the Solomon Islands. The airstrip was constructed by Australian, New Zealand and the United States servicemen during 1942. The island proved too remote to come under attack during the war and NZ Service personal left the island in February 1944.

In 1979, Norfolk Island was granted limited self-government by Australia, under which the island elected a government that ran most of the island’s affairs. Financial problems and a reduction in tourism led to Norfolk Island’s administration appealing to the Australian federal government for assistance in 2010. In return, the islanders were to pay income tax for the first time but would be eligible for greater welfare benefits. An agreement was finally signed in Canberra on 12 March 2015 to replace self-government with a local council and comprehensive reforms for Norfolk Island, the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly was abolished, with the territory becoming run by an Administrator and an advisory council. The action was justified on the grounds it was necessary “to address issues of sustainability which have arisen from the model of self-government requiring Norfolk Island to deliver local, state and federal functions since 1979” From that date, most Australian Commonwealth laws were extended to Norfolk Island. This means that taxation, social security, immigration, customs and health arrangements apply on the same basis as in mainland Australia.

Elections for a new Regional Council were held on 28 May 2016, with the new council taking office on 1 July 2016. But a majority of Norfolk Islanders (68% of voters) objected to the Australian plan to make changes to Norfolk Island without first consulting them.

There is opposition to the reforms, led by Norfolk Island People for Democracy Inc., an association appealing to the United Nations to include the island on its list of “non-self-governing territories”. There has also been movement to join New Zealand since the autonomy reforms. Bindi is one of them. Note my photos show the UK flag flies over the gate of the garrison just above the protest sign for independence.

Our day ended with dinner at the Bowls Club in Taylors Rd. It is a busy place and there always seems to be a competition happening. Visiting bowls clubs seem to be drawn here. Simple pub type fare along with a cold drink – very satisfying. Kerry struck up a friendship with another elderly couple who joined us for dinner and who we then bumped into everywhere else on the island. Did I tell you it’s a small place.

A Short Imprisonment on Norfolk Island

Day 2 Friday

We are awoken by the local rooster crowing at the dawn and make our way to Pinetree tours office. The rooster is not domesticated. Like all of the open range chooks on Norfolk they are the current generation of the chooks released by Lieutenant Gidley King when he established the first English settlement in 1788. The first European known to have sighted and landed on the island was Captain James Cook, on 10 October 1774, on his second voyage to the South Pacific on HMS Resolution. He named it after Mary Howard, Duchess of Norfolk. After the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1776 halted penal transportation to the Thirteen Colonies, British prisons started to overcrowd. In December 1785 Britain decided that it would send convicts to Australia. In 1786, it included Norfolk Island as an auxiliary settlement. Governor Arthur Phillip ordered Lieutenant Philip Gidley King to lead a party of 15 convicts and seven free men to take control of Norfolk Island, and prepare for its commercial development. They arrived on 6 March 1788. It was also called “Sydney” like its parent.

Lead rooster outside our Apartment and views from our deck

We are going to make this trip to Taylor’s Rd Burnt Pine many times as we have booked a few tours and if it is not Pinetree Tours, its Baunti (Bounty) Tours – the Pitcairn Islanders introduced this type of Pidgin English which is spoken by the “natives” today.

We join many of the other passengers from Brisbane and board our bus. Our driver is John Christian (of the Fletcher Christian line – I make him to be 10th generation) and he understandably has lots of knowledge about the island, its heritage and history. We drive out of the main street Taylor’s Rd and along to Queen Elisabeth Ave up to Rooty Hill Rd and south along that road until we see an Indian Banyan Tree. This thing covers approximately ½ an acre (one tree) with its extensive canopy and air rooting system. It’s on private land so the bus does not stop but we return for a closer look.

Further down the road is a lookout named after Queen Elizabeth (you would be surprised to learn she visited on a royal tour and left her name on a few things). Liz has her name on an Avenue, but poor old Phillip only gets his name “Prince Phillip Drive” on a dirt road to a dry waterfall at a place called “Cockpit” – does this reflect on Phillip?

Photos with the convict at Pine Tree tour office, from the Q Liz Outlook and that Banyan Tree

The first known settlers in Norfolk Island were East Polynesians but they had already departed when Great Britain settled the island as part of its 1788 settlement of Australia. Archaeological investigation suggests that, in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, the island was settled by East Polynesian seafarers, either from the Kermadec Islands north of New Zealand, or from the North Island of New Zealand. However, both Polynesian and Melanesian artefacts have been found, so it is possible that people from New Caledonia, relatively close to the north, also reached Norfolk Island. Human occupation must have ceased at least a few hundred years before Europeans arrived.

When they did arrive, it was to provide food for the settlement in New South Wales, so the settlement was called Sydney town. They brought with them domesticated animals that would become pests and cause environmental harm to the Islands. But the settlement did not last. As early as 1794, Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales Francis Grose suggested its closure as it was too remote and difficult for shipping and too costly to maintain. All of the remaining inhabitants of the first settlement were removed in 1813. Everything that had been developed was destroyed in fear of another European power claiming and using the island.

From February 1814 until June 1825, the island was abandoned. The island served as a convict penal settlement from 6 March 1788 until 5 May 1855, except for an 11-year hiatus between 15 February 1814 and 6 June 1825, when it lay abandoned. On 8 June 1856, permanent civilian residence on the island began when descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers were relocated from Pitcairn Island. In 1914 the UK handed Norfolk Island over to Australia to administer as an external territory, but as a distinct and separate settlement.

The buildings and development created by the 2nd settlement were centred around the settlement formerly known as Sydney town but renamed Kings Town (Kingston) by the 2nd settlement. Many of these buildings have survived and form the centre of the historic village. We can view these buildings and the cemetery from a top of Queen Elizabeth’s lookout. Our tour takes us down into the village and along Quality Row where there are garrison buildings which are now used as an Anglican Church (All Saints), the Council Chamber, the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island and the Magistrates Court and the Governor’s residence (now the Administrator’s residence). The officer’s houses are now private residences and one of the former military buildings is the Golf course clubhouse. Beyond the golf course and before reaching Bloody Bridge, is the cemetery. The cemetery was commenced with the first settlement and is still used today. Unlike other cemeteries around the world which do not accept criminals into the consecrated grounds, this cemetery welcomes all comers.

Former Governor’s residence now home to the Island Administrator and Kerry approaches the Supreme Court, Magistrates Court, and Island Council building (formerly a garrison building) in Quality Row

Our tour continued leaving the lookout and travelling down through Kingston around to Bloody Bridge. There exists a myth about how the bridge got its name, but recent research suggests that it was built by Irish Political prisoners who named it after a bridge Ireland.

We then travel north to Cascade where the international ships come in (they have been waiting 5 months for a ship such is the difficulty to unload to the Island and the irregularity of availability). This is the old whaling station. The island was a regular resort for whaling vessels in the age of sail. The first such ship was the Britannia in November 1793. The last on record was the Whaling Bark Andrew Hicks in August–September 1907. Andrew Hicks of Westport Virginia had died in 1897 but his empire continued with this vessel lost when it dragged anchor in Havana. They came for water, wood and provisions and sometimes they recruited islanders to serve as crewmen on their vessels.

Whaling ceased in the 1960’s because they thought they had over fished the whales. Later evidence showed that Russian whalers had severely over fished sperm whales pushing that species of whale almost to extinction. With the cessation of whaling stocks have rebuilt and the station dismantled such that only one of the boilers is all that remains bar a few cement pads.

The jetty is inadequate for modern shipping which is now containerised. The wharf requires the ship to anchor off the island while Norfolk tenders ferry cargo to and froe – I don’t think the Norfolk Islanders want that to change just as they don’t want too many tourists as they like their little paradise just as it is with time and the world forgetting it is there. Violent winds raging seas and shallow water mean that any passenger ships can only unload passengers with the use of the 3 Australian donated ferries which sit dry docked waiting for the next ship never to come.

Our trip continued through Kingston and we headed to St Barnabas Chapel. In 1867, the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission of the Church of England was established on the island. We then back tracked going east to St Barnabas Chapel Anglican Church founded by the Mission and Ona dar Cliffe (some more pidgin – It literally means “on the cliff” which is precisely right). More about the church later when we visit the church on Sunday. In 1920 the Mission was relocated from Norfolk Island to the Solomon Islands to be closer to the focus of population

Ona dar Cliffe (Norfolk for “On the Cliff”), is a retreat like an oversize scout camp which the tour company controls and uses as a morning tea stop in this tour. It was sprinkling all day, so we were thankful for shelter. The grounds do end at a cliff, but the adjoining property and its two cattle and calf caught my eye. I am told that the cattle are a Canadian breed, but I could not find out anymore.

Lone Pine, the back of the golf course and the cemetery beyond, the old lime burner pit and salt mill, those cattle and looking off the cliff

After morning tea, we went to the church and then south to “Lone Pine” on Hunter’s Point between Slaughter Bay and Emily Bay below our apartments the two most popular swimming spots – you don’t have to jump off a cliff to have a swim. There is a second settlement derelict salt mill on the Point and evidence of a smelter to obtain lime from a rocky reef and the evidence of the earliest settlement by Pacific Islanders which remains buried by sand for its protection. Native to the island, the evergreen Norfolk Island pine is a symbol of the island and is pictured on its flag.

The tour bus returned us to Taylor’s Road, and we returned to our apartment for a lazy afternoon. It continued to shower/rain and the wind was howling. After an afternoon nap it is off to the RSL for dinner. They are champions of the raffle. All night they were raffling something, and the same crowd seemed to be winning and it was not us. We left them as I was expecting they would start cockroach races shortly and I think they kept them in the kitchen.

Tomorrow we venture out on our own.

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.