I went back recently, after not having visited for over a decade. It was a sweet reminder of how naturally beautiful Norfolk is.
Not a lot has changed and, in today’s world, that can be pretty appealing.
Founded shortly after Governor Phillip established Port Jackson in 1788, Norfolk Island was meant to be both a supply base and maxi-prison for Sydney. It didn’t work on either count but the mix of abandoned sandstone barracks, old port buildings and a row of exquisite Georgian houses – including the Chief Minister’s –may be the greatest collection of its type anywhere in the world.
Norfolk Island is quite different to the stark remnants of Port Arthur in Tasmania but its history is just as violent and barbaric.
Mind you “ downtown” is not much more than a mixed assortment of one-story shops, the occasional cafe, the RSL club, a couple of bowling Greens and the pub. That’s pretty much the charm of the place.
Not forgetting the metal-boat memorial to The Bounty.
It’s a reminder for Norfolk Island’s population of their ancestors who took refuge here in 1856, when they’d outgrown Pitcairn Island, 3700 miles away in the far South Pacific.
The family connection with Fletcher Christian and his mates thrives on Norfolk Island today, as every second local you meet has the spirit of The Bounty mutineers in their blood. Literally.
Norfolk Island is a foodies treasure trove, driven – like Tasmania and New Zealand – by its clean ’n’ green reality.
There’s home – grown beef and lamb and chickens aplenty. Plenty of fruit & vegies too.
Similarly, restaurant chefs are totally dependent on the island’s seasonal crops – with no chance to import Californian grapes or pork from New South Wales. Or anything that’s not sealed in a can, because of Norfolk’s sensible quarantine laws.
Local fish are plentiful, either at the wharf as they unload the day’s catch or from a line you’ve cast yourself from a hired boat.
For golfers, the locals lay claim to having the world’s only public course on ‘heritage listed’ land. (The whole island has proudly been World Heritage listed.)
Hiking trails seem to be endless, to secluded beaches and through seductive forests, including a copse of magnificent Morton Bay fig trees with an above-ground root system big enough to house an itinerant family. I’ve never seen anything like these natives, in size or stature.
I really do think that Norfolk Island is one of Australian tourism’s best-kept secrets.
So, c’mon. Do yourself a huge favour. It’s a little part of Australia, after all.
To book your visit to Norfolk Island contact Riverland Travel, 191 River Street, Maclean or call them on 6645 2017.