Discover Norfolk, a special island in the sun

Just a couple of hours’ flight northeast of Sydney, Norfolk is a pristine, small island of 3455 hectares, perched in the Pacific Ocean. Although Norfolk Island is compact, it sprawls, whichever way you look at it.

It has a magnificent coastline, with sandy beaches, steep rugged cliffs and glorious bays. There’s a certain eccentricity on this island that is appealing and the locals (humans and others) are the friendliest bunch you can imagine.

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The island’s farmers have grazing rights to the roadside pastures so cows do in fact have right of way on Norfolk – and they know it! It’s not surprising to also see cars give way to chickens, ducks and geese crossing the road.

Norfolk Island was where the ‘worst of the worst’ convicts were sent, for this was an infamous prison for the British Empire in the 1800s. Convicts were outdoors tending gardens for what was deemed the bread basket of New South Wales.

Queen Victoria granted the island to the Pitcairners - descendants of the original mutineers from Captain Bligh’s ill-fated voyage on the Bounty.

As I meander through the ruins of a special island in the sun, Norfolk is full of surprises.
In the convict buildings, the history is all too apparent and you can sense the ghosts of the past still have a presence. While some buildings have been restored and are in use as museums, homes and government facilities, the ‘roofless’ are exposed to the elements.

Today the island has largely calmed the ghosts and there’s much fun to be had – and Norfolk has a host of annual festivals, from gardening to line-dancing, country music to jazz – and yoga.

There are some must-dos on the island beginning with taking in the very scenic views from the top of Mt Pitt and Captain Cook’s Lookout to visiting the ‘grand Gothic-style’ St Barnabas Chapel with its Frances Greenway stained-glass windows. Take a walk and marvel at Cyclorama, the gigantic 360-degree panoramic painting that follows the story of the Bounty and its crew.

Don’t miss:

  • Two Chimneys Wines Tin Sheds accommodation
  • The historic night show
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • The markets
  • ‘Wellbeing’ treatments
  • Bushwalking
  • Coffee snobs – you won’t be disappointed at the quality of coffee served here, and for foodies, there’s a selection of excellent restaurants and cafes serving top nosh
  • Research local names: Christian, Buffet, Evans and Quintal.

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This story first appeared in Get Up & Go and has been edited.