Norfolk Island: Wikis


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Territory of Norfolk Island
Norfolk Island
AnthemOfficial God Save the Queen / Un-official Pitcairn Anthem
Capital Kingston
29.03°S 167.95°E / 29.03°S 167.95°E / -29.03; 167.95
Largest city Burnt Pine
Official language(s) English, Norfuk[1][2]
Government Self-governing territory
 -  Head of State Queen Elizabeth II represented by the Governor-General of Australia
 -  Administrator Owen Walsh (Acting 2007-2008) (2008 - )
 -  Chief Minister Andre Neville Nobbs (2007-)
Self-governing territory
 -  Norfolk Island Act 1979 
 -  Total 34.6 km2 (227th)
13.3 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  July 2009 estimate 2,141[3] 
 -  Density 61.9/km2 
161/sq mi
Currency Australian dollar (AUD)
Time zone NFT (Norfolk Island Time) (UTC+11:30)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .nf
Calling code 6723

Norfolk Island en-us-Norfolk Island.ogg /ˈnɔː(r)fək ˈaɪlənd/ (Norfuk: Norfuk Ailen) is a small island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. For practical purposes, the island is considered to be part of the Commonwealth of Australia but it enjoys a limited degree of self-governance and has no representation in the Australian parliament. Together with two neighbouring islands, it forms one of Australia's external territories.

The evergreen Norfolk Island pine is a symbol of the island and thus pictured on its flag (see illustration). Native to the island, the pine is a popular ornamental tree on mainland Australia, where two related species grow.




Early history

Norfolk Island was first settled by East Polynesian seafarers either from the Kermadec Islands north of New Zealand or from the North Island of New Zealand. They arrived in the fourteenth or fifteenth century, and survived for several generations before disappearing. Their main village site has been excavated at Emily Bay, and they also left behind stone tools, the Polynesian Rat, and banana trees as evidence of their sojourn. The harakeke, or New Zealand flax plant (Phormium tenax) was brought to Norfolk Island either from New Zealand directly or from Raoul Island (Sunday Island) by these Polynesian settlers.[4].The final fate of these early settlers remains a mystery.[5]

The first European known to have sighted the island was Captain James Cook, in 1774, on his second voyage to the South Pacific on HMS Resolution. He named it after the Duchess of Norfolk, wife of Edward Howard, 9th Duke of Norfolk (1685-1777). The Duchess was dead at the time of the island's sighting by Cook, but Cook had set out from England in 1772 and could not have known of her May 1773 death.

Cook went ashore on Tuesday 11 October 1774, and is said to have been impressed with the tall straight trees and New Zealand flax plants, which, although not related to the Northern Hemisphere flax plants after which they are named, produce fibres of economic importance. He took samples back to the United Kingdom and reported on their potential uses for the Royal Navy.

Andrew Kippis as the biographer of this voyage puts it as follows:

As the Resolution pursued her course from New Caledonia, land was discovered, which, on a nearer approach, was found to be an island, of good height, and five leagues in circuit. Captain Cook named it Norfolk Isle, in honour of the noble family of Howard (Fn.: It is situated in the latitude of 29° 2' 30" south, and in the longitude of 168° 16' east). It was uninhabited; and the first persons that ever set foot on it were unquestionably our English navigators. Various trees and plants were observed that are common at New Zealand; and in particular, the flax plant, which is rather more luxuriant here than in any other part of that country. The chief produce of the island is a kind of spruce pine, exceedingly straight and tall, which grows in great abundance. Such is the size of many of the trees that, breast high, they are as thick as two men can fathom. Among the vegetables of the place, the palm-cabbage afforded both a wholesome and palatable refreshment; and, indeed, proved the most agreeable repast that our people had for a considerable time enjoyed...

At the time, the United Kingdom was heavily dependent on flax (Linum usitatissimum) (for sails) and hemp (Cannabis sp.) (for ropes) from the shores of the Baltic Sea ports. Any threat to their supply endangered the United Kingdom's sea power. The UK also relied on timbers from New England for mainmasts, and these were not supplied after the American War of Independence. The alternative source of Norfolk Island for these, (or in the case of flax and hemp, similar) supplies is argued by some historians, notably Geoffrey Blainey in The Tyranny of Distance, as being a major reason for the founding of the convict settlement of New South Wales by the First Fleet in 1788.

James Cook said that, “except for New Zealand, in no other island in the South Sea was wood and mast-timber so ready to hand”.[6]

Sir John Call, member of Parliament and the Royal Society, and former chief engineer of the East India Company, stated the advantages of Norfolk Island in a proposal for colonization he put to the Home Office in August 1784: “This Island has an Advantage not common to New Caledonia, New Holland and New Zealand by not being inhabited, so that no Injury can be done by possessing it to the rest of Mankind…there seems to be nothing wanting but Inhabitants and Cultivation to make it a delicious Residence. The Climate, Soil, and Sea provide everything that can be expected from them. The Timber, Shrubs, Vegetables and Fish already found there need no Embellishment to pronounce them excellent samples; but the most invaluable of all is the Flax-plant, which grows more luxuriant than in New Zealand.”[7]

George Forster, who had been on Cook’s second voyage to the Pacific and had been with him when he landed on Norfolk Island, was at the time professor of natural history at the University of Vilna (or Vilnius) in Polish Lithuania: Forster discussed the proposed Botany Bay colony in an article written in November 1786, “Neuholland, und die brittische Colonie in Botany Bay”. Though unaware of the British intention to settle Norfolk Island, which was not announced until 5 December 1786, Forster referred to “the nearness of New Zealand; the excellent flax plant (Phormium) that grows so abundantly there; its incomparable shipbuilding timber”, as among the advantages of the new colony.[8]

The proposal written by James Matra under the supervision of Sir Joseph Banks for establishing a settlement in New South Wales, stated that Botany Bay was: “no further than a fortnight from New Zealand, which is covered with timber even to the water’s edge. The trees are so big and tall that a single tree is enough to make a mast of a first rate man of war. New Zealand produces in addition flax, which is an object equally of utility and curiosity. Any quantity of it might be raised in the colony, as this plant grows naturally in New Zealand. It can be made to serve the various purposes of cotton, hemp and linen, and is easier manufactured than any of them. In naval affairs, it could not fail of being of the utmost consequence; a cable of ten inches (250 mm) being supposed to be of equal strength and durability to one of European hemp of eighteen inches.[9]

In 1786 the British Government included Norfolk Island as an auxiliary settlement, as proposed by John Call, in its plan for colonization of New South Wales. The flax and ship timber of New Zealand were attractive, but these prospective advantages were balanced by the obvious impossibility of forming a settlement there in the face of undoubted opposition from the native Maori.[10] There was no native population to oppose a settlement on Norfolk Island, which also possessed those desirable natural resources, but the island was too small of itself to sustain a colony. Hence the ultimate decision for a dual colonization along the lines proposed by Call.

The decision to settle Norfolk Island was taken under the impetus of the shock Britain had just received from the Empress Catherine of Russia. Practically all the hemp and flax required by the Royal Navy for cordage and sailcloth was imported from the Russian dominions through the ports of St. Petersburg (Kronstadt) and Riga. Comptroller of the Navy Sir Charles Middleton explained to Prime Minister Pitt in a letter of 5 September 1786: “It is for Hemp only we are dependent on Russia. Masts can be procured from Nova Scotia, and Iron in plenty from the Ores of this Country; but as it is impracticable to carry on a Naval War without Hemp, it is materially necessary to promote the growth of it in this Country and Ireland”.[11] In the summer of 1786 the Empress Catherine, in the context of tense negotiations on a renewed treaty of commerce, had emphasised her control over this vital commodity by asking the merchants who supplied it to restrict sales to English buyers: “the Empress has contrary to Custom speculated on this Commodity”, complained the author of a subsequent memorandum to the Home Secretary. “It is unnecessary”, said the memorandum, “to remark the Consequences which might result from a prohibition of supply from that Quarter altogether”.[12] This implicit threat to the viability of the Royal Navy became apparent in mid-September (a month after the decision had been taken to settle Botany Bay) and caused the Pitt Administration to begin an urgent search for new sources of supply, including from Norfolk Island, which was then added to the plan to colonise New South Wales.

The need for an alternative non-Russian source of naval stores is indicated by the information from the British Ambassador in Copenhagen, Hugh Elliott, who wrote to Foreign Secretary, Lord Carmarthen on 12 August 1788: “There is no Topick so common in the Mouths of the Russian Ministers, as to insist on the Facility with which the Empress, when Mistress of the Baltic, either by Conquest, Influence, or Alliance with the other two Northern Powers, could keep England in a State of Dependence for its Baltic Commerce and Naval Stores”.[13]

On 6 December 1786, an order-in-council was issued designating "the Eastern Coast of New South Wales, or some one or other of the Islands adjacent" as the destination for transported convicts, as required by the Transportation Act of 1784 (24 Geo.III, c.56) that authorised the sending of convicted felons to any place appointed by the King in Council. Norfolk Island was thereby brought officially within the bounds of the projected colony.

An article in The Universal Daily Register (the forerunner of The Times) of 23 December 1786 revealed the plan for a dual colonization of Norfolk Island and Botany Bay: “The ships for Botany Bay are not to leave all the convicts there; some of them are to be taken to Norfolk Island, which is about eight hundred miles East of Botany Bay, and about four hundred miles short of New Zealand”.[14]

The advantage of Britain's new colony in providing a non-Russian source of flax and hemp for naval supplies was referred to in an article in Lloyd’s Evening Post of 5 October 1787 which urged: “It is undoubtedly the interest of Great-Britain to remain neutral in the present contest between the Russians and the Turks” and observed, “Should England cease to render her services to the Empress of Russia, in a war against the Turks, there can be little of nothing to fear from her ill-will. England will speedily be enabled to draw from her colony of New South Wales, the staple of Russia, hemp and flax.”

First penal settlement

Convict settlement today
Convict buildings
Gravestone of a convict
Norfolk Island jail8.jpg

Before the First Fleet sailed to found a convict settlement in New South Wales, Governor Arthur Phillip's final instructions, received less than three weeks before sailing, included the requirement to colonise Norfolk Island to prevent it falling into the hands of France[citation needed], whose naval leaders were also showing interest in the Pacific.

Phillip’s instructions given him in April 1787 included an injunction to send a party to secure Norfolk Island “as soon as Circumstances may admit of it…. to prevent its being occupied by the Subjects of any other European Power”. This could only have been a reference to the expedition then in the Pacific commanded by Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse. The Daily Universal Register of 11 November 1786 had stated: "the Botany Bay scheme is laid aside, as there is a strong presumption that a squadron from Brest are now, or soon will be, in possession of the very spot we meant to occupy in New Holland". This may have been a reference to a report from the British Ambassador in Paris, who had believed that when Lapérouse’s expedition set out from Brest in August 1785 it had as one of its objectives the establishment of a settlement in New Zealand to forestall the British.

Lapérouse did attempt to visit Norfolk Island, but only to investigate, not to take possession. He had instructions to investigate any colonies the British may have established and learned of the intention to settle Botany Bay and Norfolk Island from despatches sent to him from Paris through St. Petersburg and by land across Siberia to Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka, where he received them on 26 September 1787, just four days before his departure from that port.[15] His ships, the Boussole and Astrolabe, anchored off the northern side of the island on 13 January 1788, but at the time high seas were running that made it too dangerous for the two ships’ boats that were put out to attempt a landing: “It was obvious that I would have had to wait maybe for a very long time for a moment suitable for a landing and a visit to this island was not worth this sacrifice”, he recorded in his journal.[16] Having noted that the island was still uninhabited, he was presumably the less inclined to risk a landing when there was no British settlement there to report on.

When the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson in January 1788, Phillip ordered Lieutenant Philip Gidley King to lead a party of 15 convicts and seven free men, including surgeon Thomas Jamison (the future Principal Surgeon of New South Wales), to take control of the island and prepare for its commercial development. They arrived on 6 March 1788.

During the first year of the settlement, which was also called "Sydney" like is parent, more convicts and soldiers were sent to the island from New South Wales. A second village was started at Ball Bay, named after the captain of HMS Supply, Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball. On January 8, 1789, the first child was born, Norfolk King, the son of Philip Gidley King and a convict, Ann Inett.[17] (Norfolk King went on to become the first British Naval officer born in Australia, and was a Lieutenant, commanding the schooner Ballahoo when an American privateer captured her.)

A “Letter from an Officer of Marines at New South Wales, 16 November 1788”, published in the London newspaper, The World, 15 May 1789, reported the glowing description of the island and its prospects by Philip Gidley King, but also drew attention to the fatal defect of the lack of a safe port: “The said Island lies near Port Jackson, and is nearly as large as the Isle of Wight. Lieutenant King, who was sent with a detachment of marines and some convicts, to settle there, gives the most flattering portrayal of it. The island is fully wooded. Its timber is in the opinion of everyone the most beautiful and finest in the world...they are most suitable for masts, yards, spars and such. The New Zealand flax-plant grows there in abundance. European grains and seeds also thrive wonderfully well on Norfolk Island. It only lacks a good port and suitable landing places, without which the island is of no use, but with them it would be of the greatest importance for Great Britain. How far these deficiencies can be improved by art and the hand of man, time must decide.”

An idealised vision of the new British settlement was given in the novel by Therese Forster, Abentheuer auf einer Reise nach Neu-Holland [Adventures on a Voyage to New Holland], published in the German women’s magazine, Flora for 1793 and 1794:

We went towards the centre of this small island where at the foot of a round hill a crystal-clear river rushes forth, dividing up further on into several arms. Towards North and West the hill is covered with the most beautiful ploughed fields all the way down to the sea. The sight of these great flax fields is one of the loveliest I ever beheld. The slender stalks, of the most beautiful green and reaching far above a man’s head, bent in the gentle breeze that blew from the sea. Their red blossoms, shining like rubies, danced in the green waves. The top of the hill and the whole of the south and east sides are covered with enormous pines whose dark green is enhanced by a pleasant foreground of cabbage palms and banana trees, and I also observed a low bush among them the fruit of which resembles our red currants but is much larger and hangs in purple and red clusters that help to give the whole a gay appearance. The dwellings of the colonists are strewn along the fringes of the forest and from my post I could see several of them. Simple houses surrounded by barns and stalls and the fields all enclosed with hedges give the region a youthful appearance the like of which is rarely found in Europe. And plants here bloom more luxuriantly and more perfectly with a natural vigour that knows no exhaustion and fears no poverty, a vigour that has disappeared from our continent.[18]

It was soon found[citation needed] that the flax was difficult to prepare for manufacturing and no one had the necessary skills. An attempt was made to bring two Māori men to teach the skills of dressing and weaving flax, but this failed when it was discovered that weaving was considered women's work and the two men had little knowledge of it. The pine timber was found to be not resilient enough for masts and this industry was also abandoned.

More convicts were sent, and the island was seen as a farm, supplying Sydney with grain and vegetables during its early years of near-starvation. However, crops often failed[citation needed] due to the salty wind, rats, and caterpillars. The lack of a natural safe harbour hindered communication and the transport of supplies and produce.

Manning Clark observed that "at first the convicts behaved well, but as more arrived from Sydney Cove, they renewed their wicked practices". These included an attempted overthrow of King in January 1789 by convicts described by Margaret Hazzard as "incorrigible rogues who took his 'goodwill' for weakness". While some convicts responded well to the opportunities offered to become respectable, most remained "idle and miserable wretches" according to Clark, despite the climate and their isolation from previous haunts of crime.

The impending starvation at Sydney led to a great transplantation of convicts and marines to Norfolk Island in March 1790 on HMS Sirius. This attempt to relieve the pressure on Sydney turned to disaster when Sirius was wrecked and, although there was no loss of life, some stores were destroyed, and the ship's crew was marooned for ten months. This news was met in Sydney with "unspeakable consternation".[19] Norfolk Island was now further cut off from Sydney which, with the arrival of the Second Fleet with its cargo of sick and abused convicts, had more pressing problems with which to contend.

In spite of this the settlement grew slowly as more convicts were sent from Sydney. Many convicts chose to remain as settlers on the expiry of their sentence, and the population grew to over 1000 by 1792.

Lieutenant governors of the first settlement:

  • 6 March 1788–24 March 1790: Lieutenant Philip Gidley King (1758–1808)
  • 24 March 1790–Nov 1791: Major Robert Ross (c.1740–1794)
  • 4 November 1791–Oct 1796: Lieutenant Philip Gidley King
  • October 1796–Nov 1799: Captain John Townson (1760–1835)
  • November 1799–Jul 1800: Captain Thomas Rowley (c.1748–1806)
  • 26 June 1800–9 September 1804: Major Joseph Foveaux (1765–1846)
  • 9 September 1804–January 1810: Lieutenant John Piper (1773–1851)
  • January 1810–15 February 1813: Lieutenant Thomas Crane (caretaker)
  • 15 February 1813–15 February 1814: Superintendent William Hutchinson

Norfolk Island was governed by a succession of short-term commandants for the next 11 years, starting with King's replacement, Robert Ross 1789-1790. When Joseph Foveaux arrived as Lieutenant Governor in 1800, he found the settlement quite run down, little maintenance having been carried out in the previous four years, and he set about building it up, particularly through public works and attempts to improve education.[20]

As early as 1794, King suggested its closure as a penal settlement as it was too remote and difficult for shipping, and too costly to maintain. By 1803, the Secretary of State, Lord Hobart, called for the removal of part of the Norfolk Island military establishment, settlers and convicts to Van Diemen's Land, due to its great expense and the difficulties of communication between Norfolk Island and Sydney. This was achieved more slowly than anticipated, due to reluctance of settlers to uproot themselves from the land they had struggled to tame, and compensation claims for loss of stock. It was also delayed by King's insistence on its value for providing refreshment to the whalers. The first group of 159 left in February 1805 and comprised mainly convicts and their families and military personnel, only four settlers departing. Between November 1807 and September 1808, five groups of 554 people departed. Only about 200 remained, forming a small settlement until the remnants were removed in 1813. A small party remained to slaughter stock and destroy all buildings so that there would be no inducement for anyone, especially from another European power, to visit that place.

From 15 February 1814 to 6 June 1825 the island lay abandoned.

Second penal settlement

Commandants of the second settlement:

In 1824 the British government instructed the Governor of New South Wales Thomas Brisbane to occupy Norfolk Island as a place to send “the worst description of convicts”. Its remoteness, seen previously as a disadvantage, was now viewed as an asset for the detention of the “twice-convicted” men, who had committed further crimes since arriving in New South Wales. Brisbane assured his masters that “the felon who is sent there is forever excluded from all hope of return” He saw Norfolk Island as “the nec plus ultra of Convict degradation”.

His successor, Governor Ralph Darling, was even more severe than Brisbane, wishing that “every man should be worked in irons that the example may deter others from the commission of crime” and “to hold out [Norfolk Island] as a place of the extremest punishment short of death”. Governor George Arthur, in Van Diemen's Land, likewise believed that “when prisoners are sent to Norfolk Island, they should on no account be permitted to return. Transportation thither should be considered as the ultimate limit and a punishment short only of death”. Reformation of the convicts was not seen as an objective of the Norfolk Island penal settlement.

The evidence that has passed down through the years points to the creation of a "Hell in Paradise". A widespread and popular notion of the harshness of penal settlements, including Norfolk Island, has come from the novel For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke, which appears to be based on the writings and recollections of witnesses and from the fictional writings of Price Warung.

Following a convict mutiny in 1834, Father William Ullathorne, Vicar general of Sydney, visited Norfolk Island to comfort the mutineers due for execution. He found it “the most heartrending scene that I ever witnessed”. Having the duty of informing the prisoners as to who was reprieved and who was to die, he was shocked to record as “a literal fact that each man who heard his reprieve wept bitterly, and that each man who heard of his condemnation to death went down on his knees with dry eyes, and thanked God.”

Norfolk Island jail.jpg
Norfolk Island jail2.jpg
Norfolk Island jail4.jpg

The 1846 report of magistrate Robert Pringle Stuart exposed the scarcity and poor quality of food, inadequacy of housing, horrors of torture and incessant flogging, insubordination of convicts, and corruption of overseers.

Bishop Robert Willson visited Norfolk Island from Van Diemen's Land on three occasions. Following his first visit in 1846 he reported to the House of Lords who, for the first time, came to realise the enormity of atrocities perpetrated under the British flag and attempted to remedy the evils. Willson returned in 1849 and found that many of the reforms had been implemented. However, rumours of resumed atrocities brought him back in 1852, and this visit resulted in a damning report, listing atrocities and blaming the system, which invested one man at this remote place with absolute power over so many people.

Only a handful of convicts left any written record and their descriptions (as quoted by Hazzard and Hughes) of living and working conditions, food and housing, and, in particular, the punishments given for seemingly trivial offences, are unremittingly horrifying, describing a settlement devoid of all human decency, under the iron rule of the tyrannical autocratic commandants.

The actions of some of the commandants, such as Morisset and particularly Price appear to be excessively harsh. All but one were military officers, brought up in a system where discipline was inhumanely severe throughout the period of transportation. In addition, the commandants relied on a large number of military guards, civil overseers, ex-convict constables, and convict informers to provide them with intelligence and carry out their orders.

Of the Commandants, only Alexander Maconochie appeared to reach the conclusion that brutality would breed defiance, as demonstrated by the mutinies of 1826, 1834 and 1846, and he attempted to apply his theories of penal reform, providing incentives as well as punishment. His methods were criticised as being too lenient and he was replaced, a move that returned the settlement to its harsh rule.

The second penal settlement began to be wound down by the British Government after 1847 and the last convicts were removed to Tasmania in May 1855. It was abandoned because transportation to Van Diemen's Land had ceased in 1853 and was replaced by penal servitude in the United Kingdom.

Settlement by Pitcairn Islanders

On 8 June 1856, the next settlement began on Norfolk Island. These were the descendants of Tahitians and the Bounty mutineers, resettled from the Pitcairn Islands, which had become too small for their growing population. The British government had permitted the transfer of the Pitcairners to Norfolk, which was thus established as a colony separate from New South Wales but under the administration of that colony's governor. They left Pitcairn Islands on 3 May 1856 and arrived with 194 persons on 8 June.

The Pitcairners occupied many of the buildings remaining from the penal settlements, and gradually established their traditional farming and whaling industries on the island. Although some families decided to return to Pitcairn in 1858 and 1863, the island's population continued to slowly grow as the island accepted settlers, often arriving with whaling fleets.

In 1867, the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission of the Church of England were established on the island, and in 1882 the church of St. Barnabas was erected to the memory of the Mission's head Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, with windows designed by Edward Burne-Jones and executed by William Morris. In 1920 the Mission was relocated from the island to the Solomon Islands to be closer to its target population.

Melanesian Chapel on Norfolk Island

Twentieth century

After the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, Norfolk Island was placed under the authority of the new Commonwealth government to be administered as an external territory.

During World War II, the island became a key airbase and refuelling depot between Australia and New Zealand, and New Zealand and the Solomon Islands. Since Norfolk Island fell within New Zealand's area of responsibility it was garrisoned by a New Zealand Army unit known as N Force at a large Army camp which had the capacity to house a 1,500 strong force. N Force relieved a company of the Second Australian Imperial Force. The island proved too remote to come under attack during the war and N Force left the island in February 1944.

In the late 1960's a mini-invasion by British ex-pats followed after the island was featured on a BBC television documentary presented by Alan Whicker. Fifty families decided to emigrate from the United Kingdom to Norfolk Island as a result of the programme.[21]

In 1979, Norfolk was granted limited self-government by Australia, under which the island elects a government that runs most of the island's affairs. As such, residents of Norfolk Island are not represented in the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, making them the only group of residents of an Australian state or territory not represented there.

This stamp was issued in 1981 to commemorate the first landing of an aircraft at the island, Sir Francis Chichester's Gypsy Moth "Mme Elijah", at Cascade Bay on 28 March 1931.

In 2006, a formal review process took place, in which the Australian Government considered revising this model of government. The review was completed on 20 December 2006, when it was decided that there would be no changes in the governance of Norfolk Island.[22]


Anson Bay on Norfolk Island.
Location of Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island is located in the South Pacific Ocean, east of the Australian mainland. Norfolk Island is the main island of the island group the territory encompasses and is located at 29°02′S 167°57′E / 29.033°S 167.95°E / -29.033; 167.95. It has an area of 34.6 km² (13.3 mi²), with no large-scale internal bodies of water but 32 km of coastline. The island's highest point is Mt Bates (319 m above sea level), located in the northwest quadrant of the island. The majority of the terrain is suitable for farming and other agricultural uses. Phillip Island, the second largest island of the territory, is located at 29°07′S 167°57′E / 29.117°S 167.95°E / -29.117; 167.95, seven kilometres south of the main island.

The coastline of Norfolk Island consists, to varying degrees, of cliff faces. A downward slope exists towards Sydney Bay and Emily Bay, the site of the original colonial settlement of Kingston. There are no safe harbour facilities on Norfolk Island, with loading jetties existing at Kingston and Cascade Bay. All goods not domestically produced are brought in by ship, usually to Cascade Bay. Emily Bay, protected from the Pacific Ocean by a small coral reef, is the only safe area for recreational swimming, although surfing waves can be found at Anson and Ball Bays.

Captain Cook lookout within the Norfolk Island National Park

The climate is subtropical and mild, with little seasonal differentiation. The island is the eroded remnant of a basaltic volcano active around 2.3 to 3 million years ago,[23] with inland areas now consisting mainly of rolling plains. It forms the highest point on the Norfolk Ridge, part of the submerged continent Zealandia.

The area surrounding Mt Bates is preserved as the Norfolk Island National Park. The park, covering around 10% of the land of the island, contains remnants of the forests which originally covered the island, including stands of subtropical rainforest.

The park also includes the two smaller islands to the south of Norfolk Island, Nepean Island and Phillip Island. The vegetation of Phillip Island was devastated due to the introduction during the penal era of pest animals such as pigs and rabbits, giving it a red-brown colour as viewed from Norfolk; however, pest control and remediation work by park staff has recently brought some improvement to the Phillip Island environment.

View across to Nepean Island (foreground) and Phillip Island

The major settlement on the Island is Burnt Pine, located predominantly along Taylor's Road, where the shopping centre, post office, liquor store, telephone exchange and community hall are located. Settlement also exists over much of the island, consisting largely of widely separated homesteads.

Government House, the official residence of the Administrator, is located on Quality Row in what was the penal settlement of Kingston. Other government buildings, including the court, Legislative Assembly and Administration, are also located there. Kingston's role is largely a ceremonial one, however, with most of the economic impetus coming from Burnt Pine.


Norfolk Island has a marine subtropical climate, which is best characterised as mild. Temperature almost never falls below 10°C/50°F or rises above 26°C/80°F. The absolute maximum recorded temperature is 28.4°C/83°F, while the absolute minimum is 6.2°C/43°F[24]. Average annual precipitation is more than 1300 mm/52 inches, with most rain falling from April to August. Other months get stable and significant amount of precipitation as well.

Climate data for Norfolk Island
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 24.4
Average low °C (°F) 19.0
Precipitation mm (inches) 85.0
Source: [25]



Rhopalostylis baueri, a native palm.

Norfolk Island has 174 native plants; 51 of them are endemic. At least 18 of the endemic species are rare or threatened.[26] The Norfolk Island Palm (Rhopalostylis baueri) and the Smooth Tree-fern (Cyathea brownii), the tallest tree-fern in the world,[26] are common in the Norfolk Island National Park but rare elsewhere on the island. Before European colonization, most of Norfolk Island was covered with subtropical rain forest, the canopy of which was made of Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island Pine) in exposed areas, and the palm Rhopalostylis baueri and tree ferns Cyathea brownii and Cyathea australis|C. australis]] in moister protected areas. The understory was thick with lianas and ferns covered the forest floor. Only one small tract (5 km²) of rainforest remains, which was declared as the Norfolk Island National Park in 1986.[26] This forest has been infested with several introduced plants. The cliffs and steep slopes of Mt Pitt supported a community of shrubs, herbaceous plants, and climbers. A few tracts of clifftop and seashore vegetation have been preserved. The rest of the island has been cleared for pasture and housing. Grazing and introduced weeds currently threaten the native flora, displacing it in some areas. In fact, there are more weed species than native species on Norfolk Island.[26]


As a relatively small and isolated oceanic island, Norfolk has few land birds but a high degree of endemicity among them. Many of the endemic species and subspecies have become extinct as a result of massive clearance of the island’s native vegetation of subtropical rainforest for agriculture, hunting and persecution as agricultural pests. The birds have also suffered from the introduction of mammals such as rats, cats, pigs and goats, as well as from introduced competitors such as Common Blackbirds and Crimson Rosellas. Extinctions include that of the endemic Norfolk Island Kaka and Norfolk Island Ground-dove along with endemic subspecies of pigeon, starling, triller, thrush and boobook owl, though the latter’s genes persist in a hybrid population descended from the last female. Other endemic birds are the White-chested White-eye, which may be extinct, the Norfolk Island Green Parrot, the Norfolk Island Gerygone, the Slender-billed White-eye and endemic subspecies of the Pacific Robin and Golden Whistler.[27]

The Norfolk Island Group is also home to breeding seabirds. The Providence Petrel was hunted to local extinction by the beginning of the 19th century, but has shown signs of returning to breed on Phillip Island. Other seabirds breeding there include the White-necked Petrel, Kermadec Petrel, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Australasian Gannet, Red-tailed Tropicbird and Grey Ternlet. The Sooty Tern (known locally as the Whale Bird) has traditionally been subject to seasonal egg harvesting by Norfolk Islanders.[28]

Norfolk Island has only one native mammal, Gould's Wattled Bat (Chalinolobus gouldii). It is very rare and may be extinct on the island.


Norfolk Island is the only non-mainland Australian territory to have achieved self-governance. The Norfolk Island Act, passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1979, is the Act under which the island is governed. The Australian Government maintains authority on the island through an Administrator (currently Owen Walsh), who is appointed by the Governor-General of Australia. A Legislative Assembly is elected by popular vote for a term of not more than three years, although legislation passed by the Australian Parliament can extend its laws to the territory at will, including the power to override any laws made by the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly.

The Assembly consists of nine seats, with electors casting nine equal votes, of which no more than four can be given to any individual candidate. It is a method of voting called a "weighted first past the post system". Four of the members of the Assembly form the Executive Council, which devises policy and acts as an advisory body to the Administrator. The current Chief Minister of Norfolk Island is Andre Nobbs. Other ministers are Minister for Tourism and Health, Minister for the Environment, Education and Social Welfare, Minister for Finance and Minister for Commerce and Industry.

All seats are held by independent candidates. Norfolk Island has yet to embrace party politics. In 2007 a branch of the Australian Labor Party was formed on Norfolk Island, with the aim of reforming the system of government.

Residents of Norfolk Island are entitled to enrol in a mainland Australian division in a state to which they have a connection, or the Division of Canberra in the ACT, or for the Division of Solomon in the NT. Enrolment for Norfolk Islanders is not compulsory, but once enrolled they must vote.[29]

The island's official capital is Kingston; it is, however, more a centre of government than a sizeable settlement. The largest settlement is at Burnt Pine.

The most important local holiday is Bounty Day, celebrated on 8 June, in memory of the arrival of the Pitcairn Islanders in 1856.

Local ordinances and acts apply on the island, where most laws are based on the Australian legal system. Australian common law applies when not covered by either Australian or Norfolk Island law. Suffrage is universal at age eighteen.

As a territory of Australia, Norfolk Island does not have diplomatic representation abroad, or within the territory, and is also not a participant in any international organisations, other than sporting organisations.

The flag is three vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and green with a large green Norfolk Island pine tree centered in the slightly wider white band.

Constitutional status

The exact status of Norfolk Island is controversial. Despite the island's status as a self-governing territory of Australia[22] administered by the Attorney-General's Department,[30] some Islanders claim that it was actually granted independence at the time Queen Victoria granted permission to Pitcairn Islanders to re-settle on the island.[31] These views have been repeatedly rejected by the Australian parliament's Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories, most recently in 2004, and were also rejected by the High Court of Australia in Berwick Limited v R R Gray Deputy Commissioner of Taxation.[32]

Disagreements over the island's relationship with Australia were put in sharper relief by a 2006 review undertaken by the Australian Government.[22] Under the more radical of two models proposed in the review, the island's legislative assembly would have been reduced to the status of a local council.[33] However, in December 2006, citing the "significant disruption" that changes to the governance would impose on the island's economy, the Australian Government ended the review leaving the existing governance arrangements unaltered.[34]

Immigration and citizenship

The island is subject to separate immigration controls from the remainder of the nation.

Australian citizens and residents from other parts of the nation do not have automatic right of residence on the island. Australian citizens must carry either a passport or a Document of Identity to travel to Norfolk Island. Citizens of all other nations must carry a passport to travel to Norfolk Island even if arriving from other parts of Australia. Holders of Australian visas who travel to Norfolk Island have departed the Australian Migration Zone. Unless they hold a multiple-entry visa, the visa will have ceased; in which case they will require another visa to re-enter mainland Australia.[35]

Residency on Norfolk Island requires sponsorship by an existing resident of Norfolk Island or a business operating on the island. Temporary residency may also be granted to skilled workers necessary for the island's services (for example, medical, government and teaching staff).

Non-Australian citizens who are permanent residents of Norfolk Island may apply for Australian citizenship after meeting normal residence requirements and are eligible to take up residence in mainland Australia at any time through the use of a Permanent Resident of Norfolk Island visa.[35] Children born on Norfolk Island are Australian citizens as specified by Australian nationality law.

Non-Australian citizens who are Australian permanent residents should be aware that during their stay on Norfolk Island they are "outside of Australia" for the purposes of the Migration Act. This means that not only will they need a still-valid migrant visa or Resident return visa to return from Norfolk Island to the mainland, but also the time spent in Norfolk Island will not be counted for satisfying the residence requirement for obtaining a Resident return visa in the future.[35] On the other hand, as far as Australian nationality law is concerned, Norfolk Island is a part of Australia, and any time spent by an Australian permanent resident on Norfolk Island apparently would count as time spent in Australia for the purposes of applying for Australian citizenship.[36]


Medicare does not cover Norfolk Island.[37] All visitors to Norfolk Island, including Australians, are recommended to purchase travel insurance. Serious medical conditions are not treated on the island; rather, the patient is flown back to mainland Australia. Air charter transport can cost in the order of $25,000 AUD. This lack of medical facilities has a major impact on the health care of Norfolk Islanders. Many older residents find it impossible to remain on the Island when their health falters, many have to leave their homes and live in New Zealand or Australia to get medical care, even though the majority of islanders are Australian citizens they have been excluded from the Australian health care system.


Though usually peaceful, Norfolk Island has been the site of two murders in the 21st century.[38] In 2002, Janelle Patton, an Australian living on the island, was murdered.[39] It was the first murder on the island since 1893[40]. Two years later, the Deputy Chief Minister of the island, Ivens Buffett, was found shot dead, becoming the first Australian minister to be murdered in office.[41] Crime incidence is generally low on the island, although recent reports indicate that petty theft and dangerous driving are becoming more prevalent.

The Patton murder prompted considerable debate, with some residents arguing that traditional loyalties would prevent a local being charged. In February 2006, however, 28-year-old New Zealand chef Glenn McNeill was arrested and charged with Patton's murder.[39] McNeill had been working on Norfolk at the time, and claimed at hearings in Australia and on Norfolk Island that he accidentally hit Patton with his car, a statement he later retracted. His trial ended on 9 March 2007, when the 11-person jury returned a guilty verdict.[42]

On 25 July 2007, McNeill was sentenced to a maximum 24 years in jail. Norfolk Island's Chief Justice Mark Weinberg, in a sentence handed down in a Sydney courthouse and broadcast live to Norfolk Island's court, said McNeill may be eligible for release after a minimum 18 years in prison. McNeill will serve his sentence in Australia.[43]


Anson Bay, an attractive tourist spot

Tourism, the primary economic activity, has steadily increased over the years. As Norfolk Island prohibits the importation of fresh fruit and vegetables, most produce is grown locally. Beef is both produced locally and imported.

The Australian Government controls the exclusive economic zone extending 200 nautical miles (370 km) around Norfolk Island (370 km) and territorial sea claims to three nautical miles (6 km) from the island. The exclusive economic zone provides the islanders with fish, its only major natural resource. Norfolk Island has no direct control over any marine areas but has an agreement with the Commonwealth through the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) to fish "recreationally" in a small section of the EEZ known locally as "the Box". While there is speculation that the zone may include oil and gas deposits this is not proven.[33] There are no major arable lands or permanent farmlands, though about 25 per cent of the island is a permanent pasture. There is no irrigated land. The island uses the Australian dollar as its currency.


Residents of Norfolk Island do not pay Australian federal taxes,[44] creating a tax haven for locals and visitors alike. Because there is no income tax, the island's legislative assembly raises money through an import duty, fuel levy, medicare levy, GST and local/international phone calls.[33][44]


The population of Norfolk Island was estimated in July 2003 to be 1,853, with an annual population growth rate of -0.01%. In July 2003, 20.2% of the population were 14 years and under, 63.9% were 15 to 64 years and 15.9% were 65 years and over.

Most Islanders are of either European-only (mostly British) or combined European-Tahitian ancestry, being descendants of the Bounty mutineers as well as more recent arrivals from Australia and New Zealand. About half of the islanders can trace their roots back to Pitcairn Island[33].

This common heritage has led to a limited number of surnames amongst the Islanders — a limit constraining enough that the island's telephone directory lists people by nickname (such as Cane Toad, Dar Bizziebee, Kik Kik, Lettuce Leaf, Mutty, Oot, Paw Paw, Snoop, Tarzan, and Wiggy)[33].

The majority of Islanders are Protestant Christians. In 1996, 37.4% identified as Anglican, 14.5% as Uniting Church, 11.5% as Roman Catholic and 3.1% as Seventh-day Adventist.

Literacy is not recorded officially, but it can be assumed to be roughly at a par with Australia's literacy rate, as Islanders attend a school which uses a New South Wales curriculum, before traditionally moving to the mainland for further study.

Islanders speak both English and a creole language known as Norfuk, a blend of 1700s English and Tahitian. The Norfuk language is decreasing in popularity as more tourists travel to the island and more young people leave for work and study reasons; however, there are efforts to keep it alive via dictionaries and the renaming of some tourist attractions to their Norfuk equivalents. In April 2005, it was declared a co-official language of the island.

Emigration is growing as many Islanders take advantage of the close ties between Norfolk and Australia and New Zealand. The sole school on the island provides education to Australian Year 12; therefore, any student seeking to complete tertiary study must travel overseas. Additionally, the small economy of the island causes many skilled workers to emigrate as well.

Transport and communications

Jetty at Kingston
Norfolk Island jetty.jpg

There are no railways, waterways, ports or harbours on the island.[45] Loading jetties are located at Kingston and Cascade, but ships cannot get close to either of them. When a supply ship arrives, it is emptied by whaleboats towed by launches, five tonnes at a time. Which jetty is used depends on the prevailing weather on the day. The jetty on the leeward side of the island is often used. If the wind changes significantly during unloading/loading, the ship will move around to the other side. Visitors often gather to watch the activity when a supply ship arrives.

There is one airport, Norfolk Island Airport.[46] There are 80 kilometres (50 mi) of roads on the island, "little more than country lanes", but local law gives cows the right of way.[33] As of 2004, 2532 telephone main lines are in use, a mix of analog (2500) and digital (32) circuits.[46] Satellite service is planned. There is one TV station featuring local programming Norfolk TV, plus transmitters for ABC TV, SBS TV, Imparja Television and Southern Cross Television. The Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is .nf.

On 20 November 2009, a Pel-Air Westwind II aircraft ditched near Norfolk Island after being unable to land in bad weather and not having sufficient fuel to divert to another destination. All 6 passengers and crew were rescued from the sea.


While there was no "indigenous" culture on the Island at the time of settlement, the Tahitian influence of the Pitcairn settlers has resulted in some aspects of Polynesian culture being adapted to that of Norfolk, including the hula dance. Local cuisine also shows influences from the same region.

Islanders traditionally spend a lot of time outdoors, with fishing and other aquatic pursuits being common pastimes, an aspect which has become more noticeable as the island becomes more accessible to tourism. Most island families have at least one member involved in primary production in some form.

View across to Phillip Island

As all the Pitcairn settlers were related to each other, Islanders have historically been informal both to each other and to visitors. The most noticeable aspect of this is the "Norfolk Wave", with drivers waving to each other (ranging from a wave using the entire arm through to a raised index finger from the steering wheel) as they pass.

Religious observance remains an important part of life for most Islanders, particularly the older generations. Businesses tend to be closed on Mondays, for example.

One of the island's residents is the novelist Colleen McCullough, whose works include The Thorn Birds and the Masters of Rome series as well as Morgan's Run, set, in large part, on Norfolk Island.

Helen Reddy also moved to the island for a period but was denied a long term entry permit.

American novelist James A. Michener, who served in the United States Navy during World War II, set one of the chapters of his episodic novel Tales of the South Pacific on Norfolk Island.

See also


  • Anderson, Atholl J., The Prehistoric Archaeology of Norfolk Island, Southwest Pacific, Canberra, Australian National Museum, 2001.
  • Andrew Kippis, The Life and Voyages of Captain James Cook, Westminster 1788, Reprint London and New York 1904, pp. 246 ff

History of penal settlements:


  1. ^ The Dominion Post, April 21, 2005 (page B3)
  2. ^ The Daily Telegraph, Save our dialect, say Bounty islanders, retrieved April 6, 2007
  3. ^ Norfolk Island, The World Factbook, CIA. Accessed 14 April 2009.
  4. ^ Atholl Anderson and Peter White, “Prehistoric Settlement on Norfolk Island and its Oceanic Context”, Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 27, 2001, pp.135-41
  5. ^ Don Macnaughtan (2001). "Bibliography of Prehistoric Settlement on Norfolk Island, the Kermadecs, Lord Howe, and the Auckland Islands". Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  6. ^ Georg Forster, Reise um die Weld, 1777, Teil 2, reprinted in Georg Forsters Werke: sämmtliche Schriften, Berlin, Akademie-verlag, Bd.3, 1965, p.339.
  7. ^ "Proposal for a Colonization of the south Pacific", August 1734(?), PRO Home 42/7: 49 57, Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol.II, pp.350 67, App.A (where it is described as an "anonymous proposal"). Call's authorship is identified in Alan Frost, Convicts & Empire: A Naval Question, 1776 1811, Melbourne, Oxford U.P., 1980, pp.l9 26, 203.
  8. ^ Allgemeines historisches Taschenbuch: oder Abriss der merkwürdigsten neuen Welt-Begebenheiten für 1787, enthaltend Zusätze zu des für das Jahr 1786 herausgegeben Geschichte der wichtigsten Staat- und Handelsveranderungen von Ostindien von M.C. Sprengel, Professor der Geschichte auf der Universität zu Halle, Berlin, 1787, S.8, 11, 14; Zusatz 7: Historisch-Genealogischer Calender vom Jahr 1786, “Neuholland, und die brittische Colonie in Botany Bay”, S.xxxiii-liv; re-published in Georg Forster’s Kleine Schriften: Ein Beytrag zur Völker- und Länderkunde, Naturgeschichte und Philosophie des Lebens, gesammlet von Georg Forster, Erster Theil, Leipzig, Kummer, 1789, S.233-74.
  9. ^ published in The General Advertiser, and The Whitehall Evening Post, 14 October, The Public Advertiser,16 October, and The London Chronicle and The General Evening Post, 17 October 1786.
  10. ^ Frank Clarke, “The Reasons for the Settlement of Norfolk Island, 1788”, Raymond Nobbs (ed.), Norfolk Island and its First Settlement, 1788-1814, Sydney, Library of Australian History, 1988, pp.28-36.
  11. ^ The Letters and Papers of Charles Middleton, Lord Barham, Vol.2, (Navy Records Society, Vol.37), 1907, p.223.
  12. ^ Memorandum to Grenville on the Trade of Canada, 4 November 1789, National Archives, Kew, CO 42/66, ff.403-7; cited in Alan Frost, Convicts and Empire, a Naval Question, Melbourne, Oxford UP, 1980, pp.137, 218.
  13. ^ Elliott to Carmarthen, 12 August 1788, National Archives, Kew, FO 22/10.
  14. ^ "Norfolk Island: Phantasy and Reality, 1770-1814", The Great Circle (Journal of the Australian Association for Maritime History) vol.25, no.2, 2003, pp.20-41. Also at:
  15. ^ Lapérouse to Castries, 28 September 1787, Archives du Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine, Vol.105, Journal de Lapérouse, John Dunmore & Maurice de Brossard, Le Voyage de Lapérouse, Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1985, Vol.II, pp.cxxxvii, 276.
  16. ^ John Dunmore (ed.), The Journal of Jean-François de Galaup de la Pérouse, 1785-1789, London, Hakluyt Society, Vol.2, 1995, pp.442-5.
  17. ^ Hoare, Merval (1969). Norfolk Island: An Outline of Its History, 1774 - 1968. St.Lucia, Queensland: University of Queensland Press. 
  18. ^ Therese Forster, née Heyne, also known as Therese Huber, in Flora: Teutschlands Töchtern geweiht von Freunden und Freundinnen des schönen Geschlechts, 4 (1793) 241-74; 1 (1794) 7-43, 209-75; also published in a book in 1801 under the name of her second husband, Ludwig Ferdinand Huber, Erzählungen, Erste Sammlung, Bd.1, Braunschweig, S.84-202; English translation by Rodney Livingstone, Adventures on a Journey to New Holland, edited by Leslie Bodi, Melbourne, Lansdowne Press, 1966.
  19. ^ Tench, Watkin, The Settlement at Port Jackson: p. Chapter 6, 
  20. ^ B. H. Fletcher (1966). "Foveaux, Joseph (1767 - 1846)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1. MUP. pp. 407–409. Retrieved 2007-08-25. 
  21. ^ Alan Whicker's Journey of a Lifetime, broadcast on BBC Two, 25 April 2009.
  22. ^ a b c "Governance & Administration". Attorney-General's Department. 2008-02-28. 
  23. ^ Geological origins, Norfolk Island Tourism. Accessed 2007-04-13.
  24. ^ "Extreme Temperatures Around the World". 
  25. ^ "Climate statistics for Norfolk Island". WorldClimat. 
  26. ^ a b c d Norfolk Island subtropical forests - Encyclopedia of Earth
  27. ^ BirdLife International (2003). BirdLife's online World Bird Database: the site for bird conservation. Version 2.0. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International. Available: [1] (accessed 7/4/2009)
  28. ^ Anon. (2000). Norfolk Island National Park and Norfolk Island Botanic Garden. Plans of Management. Environment Australia: Canberra. ISBN 0-642-54667-3
  29. ^ "Australian Electoral Commission: Norfolk Island electors". Medicare. 
  30. ^ First Assistant Secretary, Territories Division (2008-01-30). "Territories of Australia". Attorney-General's Department. Retrieved 2008-02-07. "The Federal Government, through the Attorney-General's Department administers Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands, Jervis Bay, and Norfolk Island as Territories." 
  31. ^ "History". Norfolk Island's relationship with Australia. Norfolk Island. 
  32. ^ Berwick Limited v R R Gray Deputy Commissioner of Taxation
  33. ^ a b c d e f "Battle for Norfolk Island". British Broadcasting Corporation. 18 May 2007. 
  34. ^ Department of Transport and Regional Services (20 December 2006). "Norfolk Island Governance Arrangements". Press release. 
  35. ^ a b c Fact Sheet 59. Immigration Arrangements for Norfolk Island, Department of Immigration and Citizenship (Australia), 30 January 2007, 
  36. ^ (PDF) Australian Citizenship Act of 2007, Chapter 1, Department of Immigration and Citizenship (Australia), 
  37. ^ "Eligibility and enrolment". Medicare. 
  38. ^ "TV broadcast transcript, 27/05/2004". 7.30 Report. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 27 March 2004. 
  39. ^ a b Wikinews contributors (9 March 2007). "First Norfolk Island murderer in a century found guilty". Wikinews. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  40. ^ Norfolk - Island of Secrets. Tim Latham, pp51-55.
  41. ^ "Man charged with murder of Ivens Buffett". The World Today transcript. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 20 July 2004. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  42. ^ McDonald, Philipa (9 March 2007). "McNeill found guilty of Patton murder". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  43. ^ "Man sentenced for brutal South Pacific murder". CNN. 25 July 2007. 
  44. ^ a b "Charting the Pacific". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  45. ^ "Norfolk Island information". Asia Rooms. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  46. ^ a b Directorate of Intelligence (2008-02-12). "The World Factbook - Norfolk Island". Retrieved 2008-02-28. 

External links

General information

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Oceania : Australia : Norfolk Island
Quick Facts
Capital Kingston
Government NA
Currency Australian dollar (AUD)
Area total: 34.6 km2
water: 0 km2
land: 34.6 km2
Population 1,828 (July 2006 est.)
Language English (official), Norfolk a mixture of 18th century English and ancient Tahitian
Religion Anglican 37.4%, Uniting Church in Australia 14.5%, Roman Catholic 11.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3.1%, none 12.2%, unknown 17.4%, other 3.9% (1996)

Norfolk Island [1] is an island in the South Pacific Ocean, an Australian territory. It is 1600 km (1000 mi.) east of Sydney and Brisbane and 1000 km (620 mi.) northwest of Auckland.


Norfolk Island was a penal colony for the British colony of New South Wales during the periods 1788–1814 and 1825–1855. In 1856 it was settled by former inhabitants of the second largest of the Pitcairn Islands. The Pitcairn Islanders were descendants of Fletcher Christian and Bounty mutineers, together with Tahitian women. Pitcairn Island was unable to support 200 inhabitants, and Queen Victoria offered them Norfolk Island.

Permanent residents of Norfolk Island are still almost entirely descendants of these Pitcairn Islanders; other Australian citizens cannot move to Norfolk Island freely. The permanent population of the island is about 2000 people.

Get in

Norfolk Island's immigration control is separate from Australian immigration control and the island imposes extra restrictions on visitors above those imposed by Australia.

Australian citizens must either have a passport or get a Document of Identity from the Australian passport authority in order to travel to Norfolk Island. Citizens of other countries must have a passport. All visitors must hold a return airline ticket and have accommodation information to provide to immigration staff.

Citizens of Australia and New Zealand normally automatically receive 30-day visitors' visas upon landing. Other international visitors must obtain a visa for entry to Australia. It must be valid for 30 days after you intend to leave the island and it must be a multi-entry visa, since leaving for and returning from Norfolk Island will be considered as a separate entry to Australia. See the Australia article for information on Australian visas. Longer term residency visas are available for people who want to work on Norfolk Island.

As with Australia, Norfolk Island bans the importation of many items of food, including but not limited to meat and fresh fruit. These restrictions apply to visitors arriving from the Australian mainland, and the customs requirements are not exactly the same as Australian requirements. See the Norfolk Island Customs [2] page.

By plane

Norfolk Island has a single airport (IATA: NLK) occupying much of the south-east of the island. It is served by two airlines:

  • Air New Zealand [3] with a 737 aircraft operates flights from Auckland on Thursdays and Sundays.
  • [4], Norfolk Air operates a codeshare with Qantas using chartered 737-200 aircraft, from Sydney and Brisbane on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, from Newcastle on Monday and from Melbourne on Friday

Flying time from Auckland is just under two hours; from Melbourne just over three hours and from Brisbane, Newcastle and Sydney about two and a half hours.

By boat

There is no regular passenger service to Norfolk Island by sea. Cruise Ships occasionally call at Norfolk Island. The local shipping Agent, Transam Argosy, [5] lists details of cruise ships calling at Norfolk Island. All passengers are ferried ashore using either the Ships Tenders or Zodiac inflatables - weather permitting.

Get around

There is no public transport system on Norfolk Island. While it is possible to walk the length and breadth of it, most visitors hire a car. In recent years, a taxi service has begun operation on the island. However, the viability of such a service on a small island is questionable.


The official language of Norfolk Island is English and all the islanders speak it. However, among themselves they often use Norfolk, a language derived from the English spoken by the Bounty Mutineers and the Tahitian spoken by their wives. Norfolk is not readily comprehensible by speakers of any variety of English, including Australian or British English.


Norfolk Island's currency is the Australian dollar, and the currency symbol is $. Norfolk Island is not subject to Australian taxation.

See Australia for more on the Australian dollar.

As a result of the lack of many taxes and duties, Norfolk Island has acquired a reputation as a "shopper's paradise". The main (and only) street of Burnt Pine is lined on both sides with shops selling everything from clothes to toys to books, and shop assistants will always be forthcoming about exactly how much you stand to save over "mainland prices" (both Australian and New Zealand prices).

A number of shops are described as "department stores", which can seem rather quaint to visitors from big cities, as these shops are often no larger than the others. The difference lies in the slightly wider range of merchandise available. One of the true delights of shopping on Norfolk Island is that in many shops you simply have no idea what will be for sale.

On Sunday mornings, an open-air market is held in the carpark of the post office. Prices are comparable to those found in the shops, but some retailers choose only to sell at the market.

Locally produced items are beginning to form a reasonable sector of Norfolk Island's retail market, with homemade preserves being a particular specialty. Additionally, the ubiquitous Norfolk Island Pine (not really a pine at all) is to be found in keyrings, magnets and other trinkets. Pine products are normally quite safe to import to Australia or New Zealand, but always make it known to the seller where you're intending to take the product you've just bought, since it never hurts to be sure.

The distinctive Norfolk language is also the source of some retail value, with books being written on the structure and vocabulary, as well as audio CDs of songs written in Norfolk. Many books are shamelessly pitched at the wide-eyed (or wide-eared) tourist, but the work containing the most scholarship on the language itself is Speak Norfolk Today, by Alice Inez Buffett.

There is also a wide range of fictional and non-fictional books on Norfolk and the South Pacific in general available at most shops. The island's bookshop is The Golden Orb, which contains a section devoted to Norfolk and South Pacific literature.

Be aware that most shops are closed on Wednesday afternoons and also that those operated by Seventh Day Adventists are closed all day Saturday. and Sunday


Norfolk Island, unsurprisingly, is famous for its seafood, which is generally caught fresh by most of the restaurants on the island. The local trumpeter is a particular delicacy.

There is a wide range of other food available on the island, including both Italian and Chinese cuisine with plans afoot for an Indian restaurant to open shortly.

Local specialities also exist and are generally based on traditional Polynesian dishes. While some of these are served in the restaurants, tourists are often recommended to try a local progressive dinner at the homes of various islanders in order to experience most of these dishes.

Restaurant bookings can be made by telephone or by writing your name in the book generally located at the front door of the establishment.

Be aware that most restaurants are closed at least one night per week.

Special Dietary Requirements: Vegetarians can generally find palatable food at most restaurants, but are not specifically catered for anywhere. Vegans are not catered for anywhere. Kosher and Halal meals will be impossible to find, as there is no Jewish or Muslim presence on the island. Travellers with food allergies may be catered for at some restaurants, but this is not guaranteed.

  • Special Events. Norfolk Island is the venue for a number of annual special events. One of the most unique and successful Festival is 'OPERA in Paradise' which features a week of large-scale opera concerts, more intimate matinees,champagne afternoon concerts and a traditional Island banquet and launch. Singers and classical musicians are brought in from Australia and New Zealand by boutique opera company, OPERATIF. This festival attracts hundreds of patrons each February primarily from Australia and New Zealand, but also from the USA, UK and SE Asia.  edit
  • The Foodland shopping mall contains a supermarket and a bakery. While many products are flown in from Australia or New Zealand, local produce sold here represents the cheapest self-catering option on the island.
  • Ocean Blue, located at the Middlegate intersection, is a very cheap takeaway shop, offering solid hamburgers, chips and other staples of that ilk
  • Gilles Fish Shop is located opposite the tourist information centre and offers local fresh fish and chips.
  • Barney Duffy's Charcoal Grill bills itself as "Norfolk's Best Steakhouse". While the competition for this title is not particularly strong, the steaks are of a very high standard indeed. Fare here is of the steakhouse variety, with various fish dishes available as well. The restaurant is named for the famous convict Barney Duffy and plays up on this link
  • Seaworld is Norfolk's fish restaurant and can be relied upon to serve good-quality fish dishes. There is a weekly "fish fry" as well
  • Norfolk Pizza serves a variety of pizzas and some pasta dishes, with the pizzas at least being able to be taken away
  • Woodfired Pizza Pizza [6] offers a selection of gourmet woodfired pizzas and breads from around the world.
  • Milligan's Cafe formerly known as Tropicana Cafe, is a great choice for all budgets offering everything from sandwiches to main meals, with excellent coffee. It has recently been transformed into a tourist venu, the walls adorned with Norfolk's settlement history.
  • Stefanos Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria [7] - conveniently located in Burnt Pine and the only restaurant on Norfolk Island specializing in genuine Italian dining. Relax on leather couches in the cocktail bar before or after your dining experience. Specialising in modern Italian Cuisine, pasta, gourmet pizzas, seafood and steak. Fresh salads and sauces prepared daily. Award winning Gelato Desserts, Indoor and Outdoor dining. El Fresco Dining, Pizza, Pasta, Gelato, Cocktails lounge. Now open for lunch as well as dinner! Bookings highly recommended.
  • Branka House markets itself as "the lunch restaurant" (as it has only served lunches in recent years). The menu varies quite considerably at different times, but the food is always of a high standard
  • Dino's, located at Bumboras (roughly the other side of the island from most accommodation) is a high-quality Italian restaurant. Book early, as it is not open every night of the week and the tables go very quickly
  • The Homestead, run by the avuncular Ron (former owner of the now-defunct Bounty Lodge) is another lunch restaurant. Located in the middle of the "Thousand Acre Wood", the restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere and is justifiably famous for its desserts, with turkish delight bread-and-butter pudding and a very rich bombe alaska being the particular highlights
  • Garrison restaurant is a wood-paneled atmospheric A frame building located on Taylors Road between Burnt Pine and Middlegate. Modern European cuisine, large servings, good service, highly recommended. Open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner. Now closed.
  • The Golden Orb - Located in Burnt Pine and hidden away from the road side by lush gardens, The Golden Orb is the perfect place to relax for breakfast, lunch or for a conversation over coffee or tea. Open from 8 till 4, The Golden Orb offers indoor and outdoor dinning with a ever changing range of specials as well as a classic menu. Fresh salads, home made gourmet pies, sweets and a range of other meals (including vegitarian) can be found. Bookings not required. The Golden Orb also doubles as a book shop and wifi hotspot.


The local brewery is found on Cascade Road and produces various liqueurs and spirits. While there is no local beer, Australian and New Zealand brews are readily available at all licensed premises.

The Cascade company also produce a range of soft drinks, ranging from traditional orange and lime flavours to pineapple and plum cola varieties.


As the island's economy is based around tourism, there are myriad options for accommodation, ranging from basic one- or two-person rooms through to resort-style establishments with restaurants attached hosting seafood buffets. The commercial hub of the island, Burnt Pine, has a number of well-situated guesthouses central to most shops, while accommodation elsewhere is designed to capitalize on views and proximity to nature.

  • Cumberland Resort and Spa [8] - affordable 4-star luxury, central location in tranquil garden setting, within 2 minute stroll to cafes, restaurants and shops, and 5 minutes from the beach golf, national park and historical area, with heated swim spa pool and sauna, free rental car, airport transfers, cable tv, tennis, breakfast provisions, package deals including Norfolk Island airline and accommodation specials; Norfolk Island's only heated pool.
  • Endeavour Lodge [9] - serviced apartments with ocean views
  • Poinciana Cottages
  • Shiralee Executive Cottages [10] - 4 1/2 star self contained cottages with the hire of convertibles included in the tariff
  • Fletcher Christian Apartments [11] - 3 1/2 star AAA rated. Rooms serviced daily. Centrally located in relaxing, spacious parklike grounds of subtropical landscaping. Shops, cafes, restaurants, clubs and visitor facilities all within short walking distance.


It is relatively easy to live and work on Norfolk Island, although you do have to adhere to some strict entry guidelines [12].

Stay safe

Crime on Norfolk Island is very low, though not unknown. Most islanders think nothing of leaving their houses and cars unlocked. Always remember to exercise commonsense when doing this, though, as most criminals are opportunists and it is not unknown for criminals to take "working vacations" too.

Driving is on the left, with a speed limit outside Burnt Pine of 50 km/h and inside Burnt Pine of 40 km/h (30 km/h in the school zone). Seatbelts, while fitted to all cars, are rarely used and rarely necessary. When driving outside of the town, remember that cows and other animals have right of way. Also remember to watch out for the "Norfolk Wave", a wave (ranging from a raised index finger off the steering wheel through to an enthusiastic movement of the arm) used by all locals to greet passing traffic.

Emily Bay, located near Kingston, is the only safe location to swim on Norfolk as it is protected by a natural coral reef. All other bays are unpatrolled and have unpredictable conditions. A Norfolk tradition is that of the "Seventh Wave", the unpredictable rising in wave height which can sweep unwary swimmers out to sea.

Stay healthy

There are no specific health warnings for the traveller to Norfolk Island, aside from a general one not to overindulge at meals (which can very easily be done).

Surfers and swimmers anywhere but Emily Bay should be very careful about the currents and wave heights. Neither activity is actually advisable, although some foolhardy visitors will do so anyway.

All visitors including Australian citizens should purchase international travel insurance.


As a general rule, always remember that most islanders are descended from the Bounty mutineers. Therefore, when talk turns to that episode in their history—which it frequently does when tourists are involved—always agree with whatever opinion is being expressed rather than trying to argue against the mutiny.

Norfolk's society is sometimes viewed as a "closed shop", in that all the locals know each other and many are related through marriage. This, coupled with the laidback lifestyle of the island, can sometimes frustrate visitors. Again, try to work around this.

There are convict ruins dotted around the island, but resist the temptation to explore if the ruin is off-limits in any way, as there are periodic restoration attempts..

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

NORFOLK ISLAND, an island in the Pacific Ocean, about Soo m. E. of the nearest point of New South Wales, in 29° S., 167° 56' E. It stands on a submarine tableland extending about 18 m. to the N. and 25 m. to the S., and has itself an area of 8528 acres or 13.3 sq. m. The islets of Nepean and Philip lie near it. Its high cliff-bound coast is difficult of access. With a general elevation of 400 ft. above the sea the island rises in the N.W. to 1050 ft. in the double summit of Mount Pitt. The soil, of decomposed basalt, is wonderfully fertile. The rich undulating pasture-land with clumps of trees and copses resembles a park. Oranges, lemons, grapes, passion fruit, figs, pine-apples, guavas and other fruits grow abundantly; while potatoes, onions, maize and arrowroot can be cultivated. The Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria excelsa) is a magnificent tree, with a height sometimes exceeding 200 ft. and a girth of 30. A small species of palm is known as the Norfolk Island cabbage. Treeferns are abundant. The flora is most closely associated with that of New Zealand, and the avifauna indicates the same connexion rather than one with Australia, as those birds which belong to Australian genera are apparently immigrants, while those which occur on the island in common with New Zealand would be incapable of such distant migration. The climate is healthy, the thermometer rarely sinking below 65° F. The island is a station of the British Pacific cable. It was discovered in 1774 by Captain Cook, and was taken by Philip King of the "Stirling" and twenty-four convicts from New South Wales. This settlement was abandoned in 1805, but in 1826 the island was made a penal settlement from New South Wales. In 1856, 194 Pitcairn islanders took the place of the convicts. Forty of them soon returned to Pitcairn Island, and the remainder deteriorated owing to intermarriage. The administration of justice by an elected magistrate was unsatisfactory. Crime was rarely punished, and debts were not recoverable. A remedy was attempted in 1896 by an improvement in the government. The island was brought under the immediate administration of New South Wales; a chief magistrate, appointed by the governor of New South Wales, took the place of the elected magistrate, and an elected council of twelve elders superseded the general gathering of the adult population. In 1867 a Melanesian mission station was established at St Barnabas, and in 1882 a church was erected to the memory of Bishop Patteson, with windows designed by Burne-Jones and executed by William Morris.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:



north + folk, probably after Norfolk, England


Proper noun

Norfolk Island


Norfolk Island

  1. External territory of Australia, in the Pacific Ocean. Official name: Territory of Norfolk Island.


See also


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