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.

The Retirees at GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art) Brisbane

Wake up and out of bed, clean my teeth, brush my hair and pull on my pants for today we are going to GOMA with the grandkids. For those who don’t know GOMA has great interactive projects for children as well as some serious Art. The kids love a visit as it engages their minds – well for a period any way. Today they have an interactive display with mirrors and artificial hair and a display on three sisters of Mornington Is. An Icelandic artist has the view that self image is important and that vanity can be a positive not a negative so she has created this experience for children. We arrive and much to my surprise there are two giant slides in the main foyer of GOMA – there is only a lower limit on age but it does not open till next week.

Still there is a lot to do. We go through the foyer and the hairy doorway into the Mirror room.

We then explored the world of Bennickt Island and the artist expression of 3 aboriginal sisters remembering their ancestral home. The big kids enjoyed it as much as the little kids.

In no time it is time for lunch and we go to the cafe in GOMA beside the river and observe the superb location of the building, some of its crazy art and the brazen water dragons feeding on hand outs from cafe patrons.

The Retirees take a holiday – in Australia – Brisbane

Our visit to Caloundra had come to an end so we returned to Brisbane. Carly had asked Kerry to manufacture some new ball gowns for Glitter Designs (now under the management of Carly) new fashion label Urban Prima, in time for the “Dancing with the CEOs” ball fund raising for the Women’s Legal Service. The ball was a success, lots of glitz and glamour and photo opportunities for Carly and her fashion label.

The weather which had been hot and humid improved changing to hot without the humidity. Whilst in Brisbane I  caught up with many of the people in my business network and friends as part of the adjustment to our ongoing travels.

I am back to walking in the morning. I have a really great circuit – from home I walk down to Mowbray Park on the river with views to the CBD, Kangaroo Point and the Storey Bridge (correct name is the Bradfield Highway but no one in Brisbane uses its correct road description). My circuit includes the Churchie Boat Shed, the avenue of large fig trees in the Park the Ferry Terminal where workers appear from 5.00am to take the trip to work, the sights and sounds of Brisbane. It takes about 1 hour but I walk through and see some of the best sights in Brisbane.

There are some great opportunities to take photos of some spectacular sunsets as our home overlooks Brisbane CBD and we a have a 280 degree vista of Brisbane from the east.

Doug and Nerida live on the opposite side of Brisbane and have spectacular views towards the city but from the north.

Whilst we are home, the Lorikeets (a small brightly coloured  and noisy parrot type bird) are feasting on the flowers on the trees in our driveway so it is easy to awake with the Lories for my walk. Even though Brisbane is a large city we still enjoy some of the native wild life – spiders, water dragons, white cockatoos, as well as the common butcher birds, currawongs, magpies, crows and mickey birds all joining the lories to make quite a symphony.

After the farm stay and before returning to the UK we had a gathering of friends at home and I took some photos before it got right out of hand.