NORFOLK ISLAND November 2016
NORFOLK ISLAND November 2016
Norfolk Island, a tiny Australian island in the South Pacific Ocean, is defined by pine trees , jagged cliffs , thousands of wild roaming chickens and cattle that act as unpaid Council workers , mowing the streets and parks.
What was once a hell hole in the Pacific , is now a holiday paradise!
We were excited to arrive at the Air NewZealand desk at Brisbane airport on Saturday 26th November . After numerous attempts to book ourselves through , Alex spoke to an airline personnel who then took us aside and explained that our flight was overbooked and overloaded. Would we like to come back on Sunday? , or , we could fly in an hours time to Auckland , with a free upgrade , plus free accommodation at the Novatel AucklandAirport , free dinner and breakfast and ….. $300 cash each! We took that option and flew to Norfolk Island from Auckland on Sunday.
We arrived into Norfolk Island airport around 10am. The airport terminal is about the same size as the airport at Tennant Creek , or half the size of Hobart Terminal . We were processed through customs , then taken on a short tour on our way to our accommodation.
We chose the A Frame chalets at Mokutu for our accommodation. They were clean and comfortable , and the king size bed was exceptional. (Photo credit - Mokutu A Frame Chalets)
There is certainly no shortage of accommodation on the Island , ranging from from luxury to budget.
On our short tour we were taken out past some of the old ruins on the way to Kingston (The old Penal Colony)
We were fascinated to see hundreds of chickens everywhere on the side of the roads , in parks , in scrub , just everywhere. Also there were cattle (most were tagged) , just roaming on the roads and again in the parks eating down the lush green growth , keeping the roads and parks neat and trimmed.
Residents of Norfolk Island are allowed to own up to ten cows per person and twice a year there is a cattle muster at various points around the island where they are drenched and vaccinated. Cattle have right away on the roads.
Once we were settled into our accommodation , we grabbed our little hire car and set off to explore , first off to the Sunday markets , then off for a drive back to Kingston , then around the coast , past the fig trees , along to Puppys Point and further on to Anstons Point until we ran out of road.
Norfolk Pines dominate along with beautiful sand stretches and picturesque views. Most of the coastline has to be viewed from above because of limited beach access.
One spot you can access is Anson Bay. The most impressive beach is the sheltered Emily Bay on the southern side of the island, from which glass-bottom boats head out to the adjacent reef, or where you can take a leisurely swim.
A variety of walking areas are available, such as the Hundred Acres in the south-west corner. It is also a birdwatcher's dream with white terns turning up in numbers. Hundred Acres is next to an impressive line of massive Moreton Bay fig trees making for a picturesque view along the road.
On our drive we spotted St Barnabas, the picturesque Melanesian Mission church . St Barnabas Chapel, was built as a memorial to Bishop Patterson who was killed by natives in the Solomon Islands in 1871. This church still stands today. The Church is left unlocked 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for anyone to enter and the only rule is that you have to close the door.
The chapel is simply beautiful. The four windows in the apse depict the four evangelists, the pews are made of Norfolk Pine and NZ Kauri trees , 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.
Behind the church lies a small cemetery. The original burial ground was a short distance north of the chapel , however by the 1970's the area was overgrown , headstones had been damaged and access was difficult. In 1980 the headstones were relocated to a special memorial cemetery near the vestry.
We continued our drive along the west coast as far as we could access , then returned back to Kingston to take some sunset photos before heading off to the local RSL for dinner. The photo below is looking over Kingston Pier. There was a container vessel waiting to unload , however for the days that we were on Norfolk , the seas were extremely rough and choppy and docking and/or unloading was impossible.
Alex & I were out and about at 5.30am trying to get some early morning photos of the ruins at Kingston , however we were rained out , as was Casey , who decided on an early morning walk instead.
Below: we believe these were the quarters for the hospital personnel.
Below: One of the houses from Quality Row.
We were treated to a half day Island tour which is always a great way to see the area as the local see it. Much of what we had discovered on Saturday was covered , however a quirky touch where a street nicknamed Roof Street road has houses named after their roofs for example “Leaky roof” , "blue roof", "can't see the roof" and "rusty roof." Certainly some very innovative names!
Following on from our tour we spent some time looking around the shops , although there are not many , the quality of the clothing and selection of items including perfumes and alcohol at "duty free" prices was amazing. The local people are so polite and friendly , such a welcome change and a step back in time.
After lunch we ventured back to Anston bay where Alex & Casey braved the waves and I set off to take some photos of the old Salt House (below). The ruins date back to 1846 Salt was very valuable in the penal colony , because it preserved meat. The only way it could be obtained was by evaporating it from sea water which was harnessed at high tide.
Following on from our time at Emily Bay , we decided to further investigate the history of the Island by venturing to the bottom end of the cemetery located at Kingston , not far from the old ruins. Many of the inscriptions and epitaphs reflected the convict periods violence. The graves dated back to the 1800s , and there were many families who's names appeared time and time again , many young men and women and their babies died far too young. All of the headstones faced the sea , facing the rising sun.
Below: I did ask the question however of why that end of the cemetery had not been washed away and was told that they had taken a number of measures to ensure the safety of the area. You can see how close they are to the sea by looking to the far left of the photo below on the far left. Yes the water really is this blue , this photo has not been enhanced.
Once again we ventured to Queen Elizabeth Lookout to take more photos over the Kingston area before heading off for dinner and and evening of "interesting" entertainment. Wonderland by Night , a walk through a few acres of land , dotted with interesting artefacts , fairy lights and a lovely gentleman reciting poetry at every point of interest.
Above: On the seaward side of the fence is a mass grave of convicts that were not permitted to be buried in consecrated ground. The area is well kept as a memorial to those who lost their lives in such brutal circumstances. The grave photographed above is near the plaque on the fence at the bottom RHS of the photo.
Above: Norfolk Island Golf Club and Golf Course , located alongside of the cemetery. At sea is the vessel that couldn't berth because of the rough waters.
Below: Views looking down on Quality Row.
Each morning as we ventured down to Kingston , three beautiful Clydesdales were waiting at the fence near Queen Elizabeth lookout. It was interesting to learn that all of the children on the Island are taught to ride horses from a very early age. Children can get their learners permit at 14.5 and full car licence by 15. Fifty is the speed limit , necessitated by the rough, hilly , windy and unkept roads.
Some of our early morning photos , and yes I must admit that I certainly had a penchant for the old whaling and cargo boats.
The Whaling industry on Norfolk was instigated (around 1835) due to the visiting American whalers. The Pitcairn Islanders had recently settled when the whalers would call for water and supplies. As a result of their experiences islanders got together and bought boats and gear to commence whaling and later building their own boats in the style of the Americans.
A testament to better days is the fact that Whale Watching and not harvesting is now the norm for the island.
Below: In 1825, after eleven years drowsing in the sun, Norfolk Island was elected by His Majesty's Government to be the site of another colony. A relic of those days near the Kingston Pier is the Crank Mill. It operated on the principle of a capstan but was appallingly heavy, its team of convicts being required to turn two gigantic grindstones. (A capstan is a vertical-axled rotating machine developed for use on sailing ships to apply force to ropes, cables, and hawsers. The principle is similar to that of the windlass, which has a horizontal axle.)
Below: Possibly Hospital accommodation at the old Penal Colony
Below: The original gaol built in 1790 and again in 1825 a penitentiary was established by the British Government during what is now known as the second settlement. In 1856 , the complex was largely disbanded and fell into ruins.
Our last day of our shortened short visit , but all things equal , I think we packed a lot in!!
Another early morning visit to Kingston , Norfolk Island Penal Colony & Convict Ruins , then back to our fabulous accommodation to pack and head out for the morning
We tried to visit the Pitcairn settlers village , however it was not open so we opted to call past the field of chickens , feed them the last of our bread before venturing off to Cooks Memorial and Mount Pitt.
Below: A magnificent young rooster checking out what was on offer.
We drove to Captain Cooks memorial at Duncombe Bay. The coastal scenery, with little rocky islets and steep cliffs, was absolutely magnificent. Captain Cook aboard Resolution discovered Norfolk Island 10th October 1774. The Captain Cook Memorial site is a beautifully appointed scenic spot perfect for picnics and sea-gazing.
It is totally unimaginable to think that they landed in this terrain in 1774!
From Captain Cooks Memorial we drove to Mt Pitt for our last view of the island. Mt. Pitt stands at 320 Meters above sea level. The lookout at the summit which is accessible by car gives you a 360° view of the whole island. The panorama is something to remember, to the south you can see the outer islands of Phillip and Nepean.
Above and below: Casey and Alex soaking up the atmosphere and clowning around.
From Mt Pitt , we ventured back to the Norfolk Island Golf Club on Quality Row , to enjoy lunch , before heading off to the airport.
Norfolk Island Golf Club is located within the Kingston and Arthurs Vale World Heritage Site . Positioned on the coastal, south east side of the island. The clubhouse was home to the Stipendiary Magistrate in convict times, built in 1843 and again , is a magnificent old building with so much history.
Below: After lunch I took advantage of the afternoon sunshine to grab a few last photos along Quality Row.
Below: It is said that this house is haunted.
Below: The Island has an abundance of Crimson Rosellas , they are beautiful parrots that are now considered a pest , endangering the native Green Parrott. Believed to have been introduced to Norfolk Island as caged birds in the 1830s, they are now widespread across the island, breeding prolifically in chimneys, under eaves and pressuring the endemic green parrot by aggressively taking over nest hollows in trees in the national park.
* Norfolk Island measures 5kmx8km with a 30km circumference , but don't consider walking from one side to the other.
* There are 7 Police , 3 Federal and 4 local constables
* Population: Approx 2200
* Roads are something else , winding and hilly , often patched and patched again.
* Children are delightful , taught manners and respect by the elders , who themselves are so friendly and polite.
* There is no litter in the streets , and very few rubbish bins.
* There is no graffiti!
* Up until June 2016 , you could only live on Norfolk if you were born there or married someone from there.
* Norfolk Islands telephone numbers only have 5 digits
* Their "rego" plates consist of 3 or 4 numbers.
I am sure there is lots more I could tell , but this gives you a good overview , and I hope that should you decide to visit , you will enjoy the experience as much as we did.
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