Writing for pleasure to showcase the best Australia has on offer.
Published October 23rd 2015
Where cows have right of way and chickens roam free
If you visit the same place more than once for your holidays, you would say you liked it, right? This year I returned to Norfolk Island for my fourth visit and although it has been sometime between my third and fourth visits, if I could, I would go there every year. The island has a magical feeling perhaps because it cannot be sourced by rail or road with the only way for Australian's to visit is by air, thereby making it an overseas holiday destination. The tall Norfolk Island Pines daunt the countryside not only by their age but also because of their grandeur. Chickens roam aimlessly around the land and cows have right of way. There is no need to lock your vehicles because where are they going to go?
Famous Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria Heterophylla)
Life on Norfolk is very lay back with the all the locals knowing each other and many can trace their ancestry back to descendants of the mutineers of the HMAS Bounty. Norfolk Islanders are very patriotic and their museums hold an enormous amount of precise records from the early days when convicts were the only occupants.
The past and present mixed into one at Kingston, Norfolk Island
One of the reasons for our return to Norfolk was that we found out our ancestors who came to Sydney on the First and Third Fleet were stationed on Norfolk as convicts for a period of time during the first settlement. Tracing back we knew 'Ann Forbes' was married to a man named 'William Dring' while she lived on Norfolk. She returned to Sydney as his wife and mother of this three children, however he appeared to disappear with his son and she became the partner of Thomas Huxley and so started our lineage. We did find out that Dring and another were sent out to the HMAS Bounty to collect the remaining items on board the ship and bring back to the mainland. However, they got into the cellar and accidently burnt the Bounty down. Many other loose ends were resolved with regard to the union of Forbes and Huxley.
We purchased a Museum Pass for $25.00 which gave us entry into four museums; Commissariat Store, Pier Store, No. 10 Quality Row and HMS Sirius Museum. You would think that if you saw one that would be enough, however the history was different in each and the information gained was unimaginable. It is impossible to think you can visit all museums in a couple of hours - you need one full day. Tag-a-long tours are available at all museums with there is no need to book. Another museum is Bounty Folk Museum and Old Norfolk Town which is located on Middlegate Road opposite the school. This museum houses many documented journals and is the largest privately owned collection of memorabilia on Norfolk Island. Alas, the lady manning this museum could give us a wad of information on Ann Forbes.
We purchased our holiday package to Norfolk Island through the Sunday Mail travel guide, however you can book your holiday yourself or go through a travel agent. Unless you have booked an organised tour holiday to Norfolk Island, most packages come with the hire of a car for your convenience around the island. Air New Zealand flies into Norfolk Island five days a week, from either Australia or New Zealand. A passport or document of identity is required for entry into the country. Up until May this year, Norfolk Island governed the island themselves, however Australia has now made Norfolk Island part of their governance with islanders either for or against the change. Their main concern is that they do not want to lose their community spirit.
The lookout provides a great view of Old Kingston Town
My first visit to Norfolk was back in 1984 when tele-communications were only conducted at the Telecom building and fresh fruit was limited to only a few tropical varieties. Now with the hi-tech systems all around us, Norfolk too, is conversant with mobile phone and computer usage, however this has not tampered the tranquillity of the island and its unique people. An internet card can be purchased from the newsagent and they start at a cost of $25.00.
Go to church on Sunday or visit St Barnabas Chapel and learn about its rich history
Back in 1984 and as well as today there are lots of restaurants located around the island catering for the tourists who want a holiday where they do not have to cook. The island tour operators run dinners from Island Fish Fry, Progressive Dinners to Island Homes, Mystery dinners where you take a part as one of the Bounty hero's to special dinners such as 'Night as a Convict' where you can dress in convict costume.
Some of the other tours well worth doing is the half day general tour which takes in all the places you would like to come back to on your own, Behind the Hedges Tour which visits hobby farms, plantations, pottery and confectionery manufacturers, Convict Settlement Tour, Breakfast Bush Walk Tour,Wonderland by Night, which gives you a good understanding of the culture and folklore of the islanders complete with bush poetry and the ever favourite Mutiny on the Bounty Show where the cast of actors and mainly descendants of the characters they play. My overview of things to do on Norfolk is only touching the surface of the magnitude of tours available, places to dine and things to see on the island.
Take a walk through the gardens and national parks
As it had been some years since my last visit, I had not visited "Fletcher's Mutiny Cyclorama" before yet I had heard excellent reports about it. We were not disappointed. The Cyclorama is a 360 degree panoramic painting and is one of only a small number of these types of paintings in the World. No photographs are allowed inside which is a pity because the painting is so realistic that you feel like you are standing on the wharf or standing on the beach as you walk around reading the storyboards. Two artists took two years creating the painting and extensive research was carried out to ensure its accuracy. At the time of my holiday, entry was $14.00 Adults and $5.00 children.
Enjoy your swim in the beauiful waters of Emily Bay
They say there are 101 things to do on Norfolk and I am just scratching the surface with the things we did this time. The photographs of the island speak for themselves and this is truly a destination of peace where you can unwind, yet still enjoy the festivities and other activities any beach resort can offer. I can't wait to return again as you certainly do not see everything in one visit. Check on their website for all you need to know.
A holiday on Norfolk Island has long been on my wish list. I almost booked one last year but instead chose a 2 week road trip from Melbourne to Coober Pedy, Uluru and Alice Springs. It's a big wich list but we're working through it.