Positioned in the South Pacific Ocean, 1400 kilometres from Australia’s east coast and 1700 kilometres north of New Zealand is the historical gem Norfolk Island.
With a population of just 1800, and measuring just eight kilometres long and five kilometres wide, Norfolk Island really is a fascinating place where culture and natural wonders combine with gourmet food, exciting activities and tax-free shopping.
Norfolk Island is becoming a popular short-haul destination and with tourism its primary industry, islanders work hard to ensure visitors enjoy ‘360 Degrees of Wonder’, the theme for Norfolk Island’s latest campaign.
History buffs will thrill in a visit to Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama mural depicting the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty and the World of Norfolk Exhibit; nature buffs can feed geese at Watermill Dam; sport lovers can play a round on the only World Heritage golf course, go horse riding, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming and surfing; and fine diners will enjoy fresh local produce.
There are deep sea fishing adventures and glass bottom tours in a coral filled lagoon, ocean trips to deserted Phillip Island, fascinating arts, crafts and produce markets to explore, progressive dinners in private homes and top drops to savor at the island’s only winery.
Special annual events which always draw numerous visitors from Australia to celebrate in the festivities include the First Fleet Anniversary Celebrations (March), Bounty Day at Kingston (June), Thanksgiving Day (November), and Jazz in the Pines (December). Culture lovers will enjoy the annual art exhibition (April), Country Music Festival (May), Government House Open Day (July), Theatre Festival (September) and the Royal Agriculture and Horticultural Show (October). The Norfolk Island Tourism General Manager, Glenn Buffett said the direct Air New Zealand flights from Sydney and Brisbane to the island “in just over two hours provides the perfect start to any stay”.
“And once here, visitors can kick back and take in the beauty and tranquility of our island or choose from any of a number of activities, events and adventures available in this beautiful destination which is immersed in natural surrounds and dramatic history.”
FOR THE NATURE LOVERS
The fertile land, rugged coastline with iconic Norfolk Pines, and deep blue seas make Norfolk Island a scenic wonder. Sea life is plentiful, as is the bird life and the climate makes it ideal for exploring.
Take in the best of Norfolk Island’s nature by:
- Birdwatching with a local guide
- Joining a horse and carriage ride
- Taking in a sunset overlooking the ocean
- Enjoying a picnic lunch at the beach
- Rambling through the National Park areas around one third of the island is made up of National Parks
- Losing yourself in the Botanic Gardens – there are five generous hectares criss-crossed with lush, cool, walking trails
FOR THE CULTURE/HISTORY BUFFS
While absolutely fascinating, the history of Norfolk Island is quite shocking. The island was first discovered by Polynesian seafare as between 1150AD – 1450 AD and their mark can be found in the form of adzes and tools. Captain Cook is acknowledged as the first European to discover the island on 10 October 1774 and four years later a small group, under the command of Lietenant Philip Gidley King, settled in the area. The population of convicts and free settlers grew to over 1000 but the isolation and lack of a harbour for supplies, saw it abandoned in 1814. Norfolk Island’s remoteness, however, was later seen as making it the ideal place to send twice-convicted men. The settlement became notorious for its harsh conditions, but the result of the hard labour is a collection of fabulous Georgian buildings.
When it comes to local traditions, the art of weaving is still practiced on the island today, and there are several art galleries which showcase the creative skills and talents. And, with the island producing its own fruit and vegetales, there is amazing fresh food on offer. This year, Norfolk Island will host its inaugural Island Food Festival in November, showcasing not only the local produce, but the skills of local and visiting celebrity chefs.
“With a population of just 1800, and measuring just eight kilometres long and five kilometres wide, Norfolk Island really is a fascinating place where culture and natural wonders combine with gourmet food, exciting activities and tax-free shopping.”
Take in the island’s cultural highlights by:
- Exploring the island’s vibrant history and culture on the Island Cultural tour
- Visiting the Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area, now World Heritage Listed
- Attending Fletcher’s Fate Mystery Dinner
- Browsing the Sunday Art and Craft Markets
- Observing Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama
- Picnicing at Camelot Gardens – Taking in the Trial of the Fifteen theatre play
FOR THE SOFT ADVENTURE LOVERS
Despite its small size, Norfolk Island offers plenty of activities, suited to all age groups and fitness levels. Here are just a few of the 70 different experiences on offer:
- Take a scenic coastal bush walk on the World Heritage Listed site – be aware of the 5th hole that has a water hazard, the beach!
- Trek Phillip Island – a 30 minute boat trip away from the mainland
- Go deep sea fishing? The Norfolk Islanders call it ‘catching,’ not fishing
- Go mountain bike riding – ride past the majestic Moreton Bay fig trees, stop and feed Mr Bull, take the dirt road down to Bumboras, a hidden rocky beach
- Take a 4WD tour of the island
- Enjoy a coastal kayaking tour – marvel at the sheer clifftops, offshore islets, the seabirds and marine life
- Experience the Billy Tea horse trek
- Take a leisurely swim or snorkel in Emily Bay and Slaughter Bay at Kingston
The climate is sub-tropical and never scorching hot or freezing cold. The temperature ranges from 24C to 28C in the height of summer and 19C in Winter.
Because of the island’s size, many people get around on mountain bikes, which can be hired from various locations. A hire car is the most practical way to see the sights and a current driver’s license is required. Remember, though, that the speed limit is 50km per hour, reduced to 40km per hour in Burnt Pine and livestock always have the right of way.
The main language spoken is English but you may hear the islanders speaking the local language which is a mix of Old English and Tahitian inherited from the Bounty descendants.
Australian residents with a passport must ensure it is valid for longer than the period of stay. Australians who don’t have a passport can obtain a Document of Identity from Australia Post. You must also have proof of onward/return airline ticket and accommodation.
Because the island is free of introduced disease, vegetables, fruits, plants and seeds are prohibited imports. Pork and poultry from New Zealand is also prohibited.
Currency is Australian dollars. Most shops close on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday, while selected supermarkets are open seven days. The Saturday farmer’s market and the Sunday market are held at the Bicentennial complex.
Mobile phone service is available on the island when you purchase a local sim card. There are several internet cafes and public phone booths. Television coverage is Australian, while there are two local newspapers, a local radio station and local television information channel.
- Cars are usually left parked with keys in the ignition
- Elegant Georgian buildings are still used daily
- The island has only three streetlights
For more information on Norfolk Island, check out www.norfolkisland.com.au