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Hi! My name is Darren McLean, the owner of taste2travel. I’ve been travelling the world for 33 years and, 206 countries and territories, and – seven continents later, I’m still on the road.
Taste2travel offers travel information for destinations around the world, specialising in those that are remote and seldom visited. I hope you enjoy my content!
Ever since I was a child, I have been obsessed with the idea of travel. I started planning my first overseas trip at the age of 19 and set sail from Australia soon after my 20th birthday. Thirty-two years later and I’m still on the road
In 2016, I decided to document and share my journeys and photography with a wider audience and so, taste2travel.com was born.
My aim is to create useful, usable travel guides/ reports on destinations I have visited. My reports are very comprehensive and detailed as I believe more information is better than less. They are best suited to those planning a journey to a particular destination.
Many of the destinations featured on my website are far off the regular beaten tourist trail. Often, these countries are hidden gems which remain undiscovered, mostly because they are remote and difficult to reach. I enjoy exploring and showcasing these ‘off-the-radar’ destinations, which will, hopefully, inspire others to plan their own adventure to a far-flung corner of the planet.
I’m also a fan of travel trivia and if you are too, you’ll find plenty of travel quizzes on the site.
Photography has always been a passionate and all the photos appearing in these galleries were taken by me.
If you have any questions or queries, please contact me via the contact page.
Welcome to the taste2travel Norfolk Island Travel Guide!
Date Visited: November 2020
Enchanting Norfolk Island may be small in size, but it’s huge on options. From swimming at pristine beaches to snorkelling, birdwatching, hiking, scuba diving on spectacular reefs, surfing in stunning Anson bay to deep-sea fishing or exploring a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The island packs a lot in and that’s before you start rubbing shoulders with the friendly locals – descendants of those rebellious mutineers from the HMS Bounty. Norfolk Island is a rewarding destination for those who make the journey to this remote corner of the Pacific Ocean.
Sunset at Anson Bay, on the west coast of Norfolk Island.
Norfolk Island has long been on my travel wish list but other, more exotic and distant destinations, kept getting in the way. The current COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in a ban on Australians travelling overseas, created a window of opportunity for me to finally visit the island. I’m happy it did!
It seems I’m not alone, with tourism to the island booming since Australians cannot travel overseas, but they can travel to Norfolk Island which is an ‘overseas’ Australian territory.
Tourism arrivals on the island are continually increasing, with Air New Zealand, the only carrier flying to the island, recently adding more flights to cope with demand.
A view of Emily Bay, the most popular swimming beach on Norfolk Island.
A trip to Norfolk Island from Sydney or Brisbane, the only two departure points to the island, allows visitors to breeze through the deserted international terminals on the mainland, to once again experience the joy of flying (on a two-hour flight over the Pacific Ocean), before disembarking onto the tarmac at an ‘overseas’ destination.
After your holiday, you then return back to Australia without the hassle of being subjected to a mandatory, and expensive, 14-day quarantine program. Nice!
A view of the south coast of Norfolk Island from Headstone Point.
Once on the island, visitors are spoilt for choice with Norfolk Island offering activities for all age groups and energy levels.
While the majority of travellers to Norfolk Island are elderly Australians – who appreciate the relaxed, slower pace of life on the island – there are plenty of activities for the more energetic.
Passing through this spectacular basalt archway on the north coast provided access to our scuba diving sites.
The underwater, volcanic formations, which lie submerged in the pristine waters that surround Norfolk Island, make for spectacular scuba diving. Amazing snorkelling can be found at many of the beaches, while the beautiful Anson Bay is a favourite beach for surfers.
A fluffy Masked Booby chick on Norfolk Island.
On land, hiking trails, ranging from easy to difficult, cling precariously to the edges of high coastal cliffs, offering breath-taking views out to sea. It’s on these trails you’ll encounter nesting seabirds.
Other hiking trails meander through the lush, green, interior forests of the Norfolk Island National Park. It’s along these trails that birdwatchers can spot the various endemic birds which have evolved in isolation over millennia.
Completed in 1835, the Commissariat Store in Kingston is one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the Southern Hemisphere.
History enthusiasts will love exploring the Kingston and Arthur’s Vale UNESCO World Heritage Site, the most intact convict penal settlement in the Southern Hemisphere.
Then there is the fascinating story of modern settlement on the island with the descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers relocating to Norfolk Island from an overcrowded Pitcairn Island.
Thanksgiving Food Festival in Kingston. Norfolk Island’s Thanksgiving is based on the American tradition, being introduced to the island by visiting, 19th-century, American whalers.
About half of the islanders today can trace their roots back to Pitcairn Island. Far from being mutinous, Norfolk Islanders are friendly, pleasant and welcoming. While driving on the island, other drivers you pass will wave at you, and it’s polite to return the wave – it’s call the Norfolk wave!
A gravestone of an executed convict at the Kingston cemetery.
Despite being just 34.6 square kilometres (13.4 square miles), I spent a busy nine days on the Island and would recommend at least that amount of time in order to fully explore this sub-tropical, pristine, emerald isle.
Norfolk Island is located in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and New Caledonia (click to read my travel guide) – 1,412 kilometres (877 mi) east of Australia at roughly the same latitude as Evans Head in northern New South Wales.
A view of Philip Island (background) and Nepean Island (middle) from Norfolk Island.
Together with neighbouring Nepean Island, and the more distant Philip Island, both of which are uninhabited, the three islands collectively form the Territory of Norfolk Island.
Like Norfolk Island, the mountainous Philip Island is volcanic in origin while flat Nepean Island is a raised slab of limestone seabed.
Norfolk Island is the eroded remnant of a basaltic volcano active around 2.5 to 3 million years ago. It forms the highest point on the Norfolk Ridge, part of the submerged micro-continent of Zealandia.
A map of Norfolk Island adorns a souvenir plate.
The Norfolk Ridge extends from New Caledonia to New Zealand. The central section of this north-south oriented ridge is 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) long and 70 kilometres (40 miles) wide, and is almost entirely submerged. Only the volcanic tops of Norfolk and Philip islands break the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
The mostly submerged micro-continent of Zealandia. Source: Wikipedia.
The almost entirely submerged Zealandia is a mass of continental crust that subsided after breaking away from Gondwanaland between 83–79 million years ago.
It’s believed that this landmass, which extends from New Caledonia to New Zealand, may have been completely submerged around 23 million years ago. Today, 94% remains submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean with New Zealand being the largest part of Zealandia that is above sea level, followed by New Caledonia.
There have been three periods of settlement on Norfolk Island – Polynesian; British and the Pitcairn Islanders.
Archaeological evidence shows that the island was inhabited by Polynesian settlers between the 13th and 15th centuries. It is unknown why this settlement ended but the island was uninhabited when the British arrived in 1788.
A view of the Old Military Barracks and other historic buildings in the UNESCO World Heritage listed Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area (KAVHA).
In March 1788, just five weeks after the First Fleet arrived in Sydney, the British established a settlement on Norfolk Island. It was chosen for settlement because Captain Cook, who first visited Norfolk Island in 1774, had identified the towering Norfolk Island pines as being useful for ships masts and the local flax as good for sails. Both plants turned out to be unsuitable for these purposes.
However, the island’s fertile volcanic soil and mild climate made it ideal for agriculture and farming, and Norfolk Island became a key source of produce for the newly-established Sydney colony.
Both convicts and free settlers made Norfolk Island their home until 1814, when the island was abandoned due to its perilous landing sites, isolation, and the fact that the Sydney colony was now established and didn’t need supplies from Norfolk Island.
The island lay abandoned from 1814 until 1825 at which time a decision was made to establish a convict penal settlement on the island. This marked the start of a dark period in Norfolk’s history, with the island becoming infamous around the world for the harsh treatment prisoners received.
During this period, ambitious building works were commissioned in Kingston. Many of these buildings have been restored and form the Kingston and Arthur’s Vale UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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. The island was then entered into the British Crowns’ register of ‘Abandoned Lands‘.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Pacific – 6,271 km to the east of Norfolk Island, the descendants of the HMSBounty mutineers had outgrown their home on tiny Pitcairn Island which is just 5 km2 (1.9 square miles) in area.
Following appeals to the British crown, Queen Victoria allocated Norfolk Island as a new settlement site for the Pitcairn Islanders.
On the 3rd of May 1856, a British government-supplied ship relocated 194 Pitcairn Islanders to Norfolk Island, who arrived at their new home on the 8th of June 1856.
The Pitcairn Islanders originally lived in the abandoned convict buildings in Kingston before moving to their own 50-acre land grants, where they built homes and farms.
The descendants of the Pitcairn Islanders now make up about a half of the island’s population, and a walk through the rows of headstones in the islands’ one cemetery in Kingston show those who were direct descendants of the Bounty mutineers, with numerous gravestones bearing the surnames of Christian, Quintal, McCoy, Adams and Young.
The rest of the population is made up of Australian and New Zealand expats and a small number of people from other countries, especially neighbouring Pacific nations. The current population is about 1800.
Mutiny on the Bounty
A model of the ‘HMS Bounty’ at the Norfolk Island museum.
The story of modern settlement on Norfolk Island starts with the events which happened off the coast of Tonga on the 28th of April 1789 – the day that a Mutiny took place on the HMS Bounty.
The story of the HMS Bounty starts twenty years earlier, in 1769, when Captain James Cook discovered Breadfruit while visiting the island of Tahiti. At the time, the British government was searching for food crops which could be grown in the Caribbean to support their growing number of slaves.
After being discovered on Tahiti by Captain James Cook, Breadfruit was transported to the Caribbean by William Bligh.
Captain Cook, recognising the potential of breadfruit (which he referred to as ‘bread growing on a tree‘), proposed to King George III to commission a special expedition to transport breadfruit trees from Tahiti to the Caribbean.
In 1787, William Bligh, who had a reputation for being harsh and rude to his subordinates, was appointed Captain of the HMS Bounty and instructed by the Royal Crown to transport over 1,000 breadfruit trees from Tahiti to the Caribbean.
In December 1787, the HMS Bounty left England for Tahiti. Due to storms at Cape Horn, which prevented the Bounty from passing under South America, Bligh had no choice but to change course, approaching Tahiti via South Africa and the Southern Ocean, south of Australia. This added months to the journey and saw mounting tensions between Bligh and his crew, especially first-mate Christian Fletcher, escalate further.
Inside Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama, Norfolk Island. A 360° panoramic painting which depicts the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty and the Norfolk Island people. Source: Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama.
After a 10-month journey, the Bounty arrived in Tahiti in October 1788 and remained there for more than five months. On Tahiti, the crew enjoyed an idyllic life in a lush, tropical paradise and also fell in love with local Tahitian woman. Needless to say, when the time came to depart, the crew were very reluctant to leave.
On April 4, 1789, the Bounty departed Tahiti with its store of 1000 breadfruit saplings. On April 28, near to Tonga, Christian and 25 petty officers and seamen seized the ship, forcing Bligh and his loyalists into a small longboat.
They should have perished at sea, but incredibly, under Bligh’s command, the crew were able to reach the city of Kupang (today in Indonesian West Timor) – 5,800 km to the west of Tonga.
Bligh eventually returned to England and, as determined as ever, sailed once again to Tahiti to collect more Breadfruit saplings and deliver them to the Caribbean. Today, thanks to Bligh’s efforts, Breadfruit is a staple throughout the Caribbean and Central/ South America.
Meanwhile, Christian and his men attempted to establish themselves on the island of Tubuai in French Polynesia. Unsuccessful, they returned to Tahiti where 16 mutineers decided to stay. Their time on Tahiti was limited as they were soon captured by the British and returned to England to face justice.
The original kettle from the HMS Bounty which was once used on Pitcairn Island and is now on display at the Norfolk Island museum.
Fletcher Christian and eight others, together with six Tahitian men, a dozen Tahitian women, and a child, decided to search the South Pacific for a safe haven. In January 1790, the Bounty arrived at the uninhabited Pitcairn Island, more than 1,600-km east of Tahiti.
Sixty-six years later, the small community had grown to a point where tiny Pitcairn could no longer sustain them, hence the relocation to Norfolk Island where today the descendants of those original Mutineers comprise around 50% of the population.
A park in Burnt Pine displays the handprints of islanders who have put their ‘Hands Up for Democracy’.
Controversy has always existed as to the exact status of Norfolk Island. Despite the island’s status as a self-governing territory of Australia, some Islanders claim that it was actually granted full independence at the time Queen Victoria granted permission to Pitcairn Islanders to re-settle on the island in 1856.
At that time, Norfolk Island was established as a colony separate from New South Wales but under the administration of that colony’s governor. In 1914 the UK handed Norfolk Island over to Australia to administer as an external territory, but as a distinct and separate settlement.
The Five Demands from the Norfolk Island democracy movement.
On the 19th of March 2015, the Australian government announced that self-governance for the island would be revoked by the Commonwealth and replaced by a local council with the state of New South Wales providing services to the island.
The reason given for this controversial move was that the island had never gained self-sufficiency and was being heavily subsidised by the Commonwealth, by apparently $12.5 million in 2015 alone. It meant residents would have to start paying Australian income tax, but they would also be covered by Australian welfare schemes.
Today, an active democracy movement exists which is fighting for full democracy to be restored to the island. In Burnt Pine, the ‘Centre for Democracy‘ is happy to explain the democracy demands of islanders to any curious visitor.
Also, in Burnt Pine, a small park has been created where the hand-prints of many islanders, who have ‘put their hands up for democracy‘, are displayed.
A protestor’s tent embassy has also been established on the grounds of the old Military barracks in Kingston.
The flag of Norfolk Island features a Norfolk Island pine.
The flag of Norfolk Island, which was approved for use by the Norfolk Island council in 1979, features a Norfolk Island pine in a central white stripe between two green stripes.
The flag of Nigeria.
The flag’s geometry is a triband with the central white stripe slightly wider than the two outer green stripes. The flag is very similar in design to the flag of Nigeria.
The Norfolk Island flag, fluttering in front of a row of Norfolk Island pines in Kingston.
The slowly disappearing Australian dollar is the official currency of Norfolk Island.
The official currency of Norfolk Island is the Australian dollar (A$), which trades under the international currency code of AUD.
Having the distinction of being the world’s first polymer currency, the currency is issued in bank notes of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. The dollar is divided into 100 cents (c), with coins being issued in denominations of 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c, $1 and $2.
All bank notes are printing in Melbourne by Note Printing Australia (a division of the Reserve Bank of Australia), who also print polymer bank notes for Central banks around the globe.
Banking services on the island are provided by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia which offers one modern branch, with an ATM, on the main street of Burnt Pine.
Like mainland Australia, most transactions on Norfolk Island are cashless with credit cards being widely accepted.
To check the current exchange rate between the Australian dollar and the US dollar, click here.
Since many items are imported from mainland Australia, costs on Norfolk Island are slightly higher than Australia.
One item which is noticeably more expensive is petrol which costs A$2.14 per litre. Thankfully distances are small so, after a week of driving my rental car, I needed to top-up with just half a tank of fuel which still cost me about A$55.
Most goods on the island arrive by boat from Australia, but as the boat comes every 6 weeks, supermarket shelves can become bare towards the end of the delivery cycle.
Where possible, its best to buy local fruit and vegetables and self-cater. My apartment included a fully equipped kitchen where I could prepare the freshest of local produce, all of which is organic and full of flavour – much tastier than produce sold in Australian supermarkets!
A good shopping option is the weekly Farmers’ market which is held on the grounds of the Norfolk Island Visitors centre each weekend.
As you drive around the island, many locals have a produce box at their front gate where they sell homemade jams, chutneys, pickles, sauces and fresh fruit and vegetables. These are always unattended with payment made into an honesty box – making these one of the last places on the island where cash is required!
Norfolk Island Stamps – “Peace in the Pacific”.
Norfolk Island issues its own postal stamps and operates its own postal service. Rates are charged at the same rates as those in Australia with stamps being supplied by Australia Post, who also sell Norfolk Island stamps online.
Stamps from either Norfolk Island or Australia are valid for postage in either location. Stamps can be purchased at the one post office in Burnt Pine which is tucked away in the back corner of the P&R Grocery store.
Norfolk Island Stamps – “Bump-head Sunfish”.
Unlike many other Pacific Islands, who have flooded the stamp market with irrelevant stamp issues (e.g., “Lunar Landing”, “Disneyland Characters”, “Michael Jackson” etc), the commemorative and definitive stamps issued by Australia Post for Norfolk Island are highly relevant, featuring local fauna, flora, history and society.
Norfolk Island Stamps – “Early Botanical Art”.
Unless you have roaming enabled on your phone, you’ll find yourself in a network black hole on Norfolk Island!
Australian Telco’s, such as Optus and Telstra, have no presence on the island with all network and data services provided by the local operator, Norfolk Telecom, who offer a rather slow 2G network, although this is being upgraded to 4G. The scheduled ‘go-live’ date for the new 4G network is the 12th of January, 2021.
Wi-Fi coverage on Norfolk Island is limited, with free Wi-Fi normally offered by your accommodation provider. Local SIM cards can be purchased from Norfolk Telecom who offer a selection of data plans.
In Burnt Pine, the RSL club is the only place which offers free Wi-Fi while Norfolk Telecom operate a hotspot throughout the village, which is available to paid subscribers.
A view of Norfolk Island from Mount Pitt, the 2nd highest point in the Norfolk Island National Park.
As is the case with so many islands which have evolved in isolation, Norfolk Island is home to plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Of the 200 native plants found on the island, 40 are endemic.
While much of the island has been cleared of its original vegetation, the Norfolk Island National Park, Botanic Garden and 100 Acres reserve are home to most of the island’s remaining natural areas. These three reserves offer hiking trails which allow you to explore these natural wonderlands.
Norfolk Island Pine
Beautiful Emily Bay is surrounded by a forest of Norfolk Island pines.
The best known symbol of Norfolk Island is the iconic Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla). Featured on everything from the territorial flag, stamps, souvenirs and so much more, the ubiquitous Norfolk Island pine is a common sight across the island.
A row of trunks from an avenue of mature Norfolk Island pines at Puppy’s Point.
With its classic ‘Christmas tree’ appearance, the Norfolk Island pine was always destined to be a popular ornamental tree and is now cultivated around the world.
It’s especially popular in Australia where rows of Norfolk Island pines line various beaches. The tree is ideal for coastal environments, being able to grow well in sandy soil and having a high tolerance of salt and wind.
Norfolk Island is a very green and clean destination with Norfolk Island pines framing every view.
Young Norfolk Island pines have upward-pointing branches which act to catch rainwater, directing it towards the trunk and hence the roots, while older trees have downward-pointing branches which have the opposite effect.
A Norfolk Island pine festooned with lichen Usnea.
Some pines are covered with lichen Usnea (aka ‘old man’s beard’) which give them the appearance of a Christmas tree covered in tinsel. For those who have spent time in the deep south of the United States, Usnea is very similar to Spanish moss. Like other lichens, Usnea often grows on sick or dying trees due to the pre-existing loss of canopy leaves, allowing for greater photosynthesis by the lichen’s algae.
Norfolk Island Hibiscus
The Norfolk Island Hibiscus.
Native to Norfolk Island, the Norfolk Island Hibiscus (also known as White Oak) is a common sight on the island, found along roadsides and hiking trails.
Thanks to its pretty flower and highly adaptable, hardy nature, the Norfolk Island Hibiscus, has been cultivated around the world, in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate areas, both in coastal and inland zones. Reaching more than 20 metres in height, the hibiscus is hardy to salt spray and is therefore excellent for coastal gardens.
Also in the hibiscus family is the Philip Island Hibiscus (Hibiscus insularis) which is endemic to Philip Island but can be found in gardens on Norfolk Island.
Norfolk Tree Fern
Towering, Norfolk Tree Ferns, in the 100 Acres Reserve on Norfolk Island.
Soaring to a height of 20 metres (66 ft) or more, the Norfolk Tree Fern is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the tallest fern in the world.
Endemic to Norfolk Island, and once extensive on the island, prior to European settlement, the fern today can be found in the gullies of the Norfolk Island National Park, Botanic garden and the 100 Acres reserve.
The endemic Norfolk Island green parrot in the Botanical garden.
Norfolk Island has no endemic mammals, and its only native mammals, two species of bats, are now extinct on the island.
There are 116 bird species on the island, some of which are endemic. The best places to look for birds are the along the hiking trails in the Botanical garden, the National park and the 100 Acres reserve.
Bird Watching Tour
“Norfolk Island … the birds” by Margaret Christian.
If you have any interest in birdwatching, the best thing you can do on Norfolk Island is to book a birdwatching tour with the local bird expert – Margaret Christian, who is the author of the book ‘Norfolk Island … the birds‘, the most comprehensive guide to the birds of Norfolk Island. Tours with Margaret can be booked through the Norfolk Island Visitors’ centre.
Originally from mainland Australia, Margaret has lived on Norfolk Island for many years and is married to a descendant of Fletcher Christian. Margaret’s tours are informative and entertaining and, at no stage, was there any suggestion of a mutiny happening in her mini-bus, with everyone enjoying the tour.
A Masked Booby chick on the north coast of Norfolk Island.
Morning tea, which consisted of a freshly baked coconut cake and hot drinks, was served on the lawn at Margaret’s beautiful seaside property which is situated atop the sea cliffs which line the north coast of the island. The grassy grounds around her home are the favoured nesting grounds for Masked Boobies, with lots of fluffy chicks present during my visit.
Norfolk Island Green Parrot
The Norfolk Island green parrot can be found in the Botanical garden and the National park.
The most iconic of the birds is the endemic Norfolk Island green parrot. Once a common species, the green parrot was near to extinction in the late 1970’s due to habitat loss and the killing of eggs and young by rats and feral cats.
A concerted effort to reduce rat and cat populations by trapping, and the ongoing culling of the more aggressive (introduced) Crimson Rosella has resulted in an increase in the green parrot population.
Crimson Rosella (Red Parrot)
A Crimson rosella, known locally as a Red parrot, sitting in a Norfolk Island pine.
A native of mainland Australia, Crimson rosellas were first taken to Norfolk Island as cage birds during the first penal settlement. Known locally as Red parrots, they were reported in the wild as early as 1838.
As the number of Crimson rosellas increased on the island, the number of Green parrots declined. The more aggressive Crimson rosella acts like a playground bully, invading the nesting hollows of green parrots and deliberately smashing its eggs.
Currently, a culling program is underway to reduce the number of Crimson rosellas which is being conducted by a National Parks ranger armed with a shot gun. Photographing them is difficult because they are very weary of anyone pointing anything at them.
While the culling program is beneficial for the green parrot, some locals are against it as they like to see the colourful Crimson rosellas in their gardens.
Norfolk Island Grey Fantail
A Norfolk Island Grey Fantail on the Mount Bates hiking trail.
Found in gardens and forests across the island, the curious and mischievous Norfolk IslandGrey Fantail never sits still, flitting their fan-like tail as they move.
Although endemic, the Norfolk IslandGrey Fantail is very similar to the varieties of grey fantails which inhabit the mainland of Australia. Fantails are found all over Australia except for the central desert areas.
The fantail isn’t shy and will often follow you as you walk along hiking trials or might even buzz you just for fun. Thanks to its boldness, the fantail is the easiest of birds to photograph, perching directly in front of you while you get your perfect shot.
An adult Masked Booby on Norfolk Island.
Norfolk Island is a seabirds’ paradise, boasting access to the abundant ocean and safe nesting sites high on the steep volcanic cliffs and the numerous offshore islets.
Masked boobies, one of six species of boobies, are a common sight on the island, where they nest, on the ground, between August and February. These large and distinctive seabirds have a white body, black tail and a small black mask around their large yellowish beak.
Striking a pose! A fluffy Masked Booby chick on Norfolk Island.
The female lays two eggs in a shallow depression on flat ground away from vegetation. New-born chicks, which are covered in white downy feathers, grow quickly, becoming nearly as big as their parents during their initial growth spurt. A favourite nesting site on Norfolk Island is at the end of Fisherman’s Lane, overlooking the north coast.
A Masked Booby adult and chick at a nesting site at the end of Fisherman’s Lane.
The chicks are born featherless, but are soon covered in white down. In an act known as siblicide the second born chick generally does not survive and is killed by its elder sibling.
Further Reading: Interested in viewing other species of Boobies? You can view Blue-footed boobies, Red-footed boobies and Nazca boobies (which are the Masked Booby in the western Pacific) in my Galapagos Islands Travel Guide.
A nesting adult White Tern in the 100 Acres reserve.
The White Tern is a common sight on most Pacific islands including Norfolk Island, to which it migrates to nest. The White Tern normally leaves the island in May to spend several months at sea, flying constantly before returning in mid-August to mate. The best place to see nesting terns is at the 100 Acres reserve.
A wide-spread seabird, the White tern is unique in that the female lays only one egg per clutch in whatever suitable depression she can find on a tree branch. Why waste time and energy building a nest when you can simply lay your egg directly onto a branch?
A White tern chick, clinging onto its branch for dear life, in the 100 Acres reserve.
If the egg isn’t blown off the tree, it stands a good chance of surviving and a fluffy chick will be born. Unable to fly, the chick must then hang onto the branch, which is often located in areas prone to gale-force winds, for the first two months of its life. Yes – two months!
After this time, and provided it hasn’t been blown off its perch, it is fully independent and able to fly.
Further Reading: In myTuvalu Travel Guide, you can view more White terns, including one which was nesting outside the room of my guest house.
Red-tailed Tropic Bird
This curious Red-tailed tropicbird kept ‘buzzing’ me as I stood and photographed it on the sea cliffs at the 100 Acres reserve.
The Red-tailed tropicbird is one of three species of tropicbird which can be found on tropical islands around the world. The birds nest on Norfolk Island and are easily viewed in the 100 Acres Reserve where they build their nests on cliff faces and in protected crevices.
They can be seen performing acrobatics offshore from the reserve and, being curious, can fly close to investigate you.
Further Reading: Another of this species, the White-tailed tropicbird, can be viewed in my Bermuda Travel Guide.
A Sacred Kingfisher at Balls Bay on Norfolk Island.
The dazzlingly beautiful Sacred Kingfisher can often be seen sitting on wire fences on the side of the road as you drive around Norfolk Island. The local name for the Kingfisher is ‘nuffka’, which literally means ‘Norfolker‘.
Sporting turquoise-coloured plumage with white underparts, the Sacred Kingfisher can be found throughout Australasia, the Pacific region, New Guinea and eastern Indonesia.
A juvenile male Norfolk robin on Norfolk Island.
Endemic to Norfolk Island, the Norfolk robin, also known as the Norfolk Island scarlet robin, can be seen as a scarlet-coloured flash, darting through the forests of the Norfolk Island National park.
Juvenile males have rust-coloured breast feathers while mature males have bright red feathers.
A White-faced heron on the golf course at Norfolk Island.
The White-faced heron is a common bird throughout most of Australasia, and has been recorded on Norfolk Island as a permanent resident for more than 100 years.
While the diving was a highlight, the boat journey along the dramatic north coast was one of the highlights of my visit to Norfolk Island.
For various reasons, Norfolk Island is a scuba divers paradise! The waters which surround the island lie within the Norfolk Marine Park which extends 700 km (430 mi) in a north–south direction and covers an area of 188,444 km2 (72,759 square mi), which means no commercial fishing anywhere.
A view of Cathedral Rock, a volcanic formation which features soaring basalt columns and a very narrow pass-through passage.
The island has no rivers, which means no rainwater runoff disturbing the clarity of the pristine water, and an absence of industry on the island means no industrial pollution.
The numerous dive sites of Norfolk Island feature submerged, ancient volcanic formations including many caverns and swim-throughs. Source: Norfolk Island Diving.
The one dive business on Norfolk Island is Norfolk Island Diving which is operated by the wonderfully laid-back, fully competent and always calm, Mitch.
The protected reefs which surround Norfolk Island are full of fish and healthy soft and hard corals. Source: Norfolk Island Diving.
A two-tank dive with Norfolk Island Diving costs A$200.
Mitch and my two dive buddies, Sara and John, admiring the impressive views along the north coast of Norfolk Island.
Due to the fact that there is no safe harbour on Norfolk Island, all boats, including the dive boat, are lowered into the sea using a newly installed winch on Cascade pier.
Lowering our dive boat into the sea at Cascade pier.
From Cascade pier it’s a short 10-minute boat ride to the nearest dive sites.
We passed through this impressive volcanic archway on the way to one of our dives sites.
The boat ride along the spectacular north coast is a highlight in itself, with breath-taking, towering volcanic rock formations lining the way, including one basalt archway which we cruised through.
The boat ride to and from our dives sites was yet another amazing experience on incredible Norfolk Island.
Underwater, it gets even better with lots of ancient, submerged volcanic structures to explore, which include a number of amazing swim-throughs.
Distances on Norfolk Island are short, with most places being a 10-minute drive from Burnt Pine.
Norfolk Island is approximately 8 kilometres by 6 kilometres in size. Most places on the island are a 5 to 10-minute drive from Burnt Pine, with little traffic, except for the occasional cow on the road. After 9 days of zipping around the island in my rental car, I’d consumed half a tank of fuel.
Norfolk Island Museum Pass
The Norfolk Island Museum Pass provides multiple entries into five properties as well as two guided Tag-a-long tours.
If you’re planning to visit a few museums, it’s best to purchase the Norfolk Island Museum Pass which, for A$35, provides access to four museums, the Norfolk Island Research centre and two guided Tag-a-long tours.
The passes can only be purchased from the Royal Engineers Office (R.E.O) bookshop which is located next to Kingston pier. The bookshop is also the departure point for the daily Tag-a-long tours which are guided tours, led by a guide who drives a mini-bus (for those without a car) while those with cars, tag along behind the bus in a convoy, which is the only thing on Norfolk Island which resembles rush hour traffic.
More like a village, Burnt Pine is the one and only town on Norfolk Island.
The one town on Norfolk Island, tiny Burnt Pine is more ‘village’ than ‘town’. The main street, Taylors road, which is lined with duty free shops and gift stores, is also home to one bank, one post office, one supermarket, three clubs (RSL, Bowling and Leagues), two petrol stations, six cafes and a few tour companies/ travel agents.
An important stop for any new arrival is the Norfolk Island Visitors’ centre which is housed in the Bicentennial Complex on Taylors road. The friendly staff at the centre will provide you with a map and suggest a suitable itinerary for your visit. They can also make reservations for any activities you wish to do. The grounds of the centre host a Farmers’ market each weekend.
Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama
Inside Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama, Norfolk Island. A 360° panoramic painting which depicts the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty and the Norfolk Island people. Source: Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama.
Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama is an amazing artwork which viewers walk inside to experience history in a unique way. The artwork is a large 360° continuous panoramic painting which completely surrounds the viewer and extends onto the floor. Painted in a realistic style and in perspective, the painting creates the feeling of being there in the scene. Realistic foreground props add a further optical illusion.
Inspiration to create this type of painting, based on the popular 18th century style of attraction, came from one of Fletcher Christians descendants. Marie Bailey, a 6th generation descendant of Christian, saw a cyclorama in Canada and thought it would be a wonderful way to depict the story of her famous ancestor and the Mutiny on the Bounty which led to the settlement of Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands.
Norfolk Island artists Tracey Yager and Sue Draper undertook the design, research and painting of the circular artwork, a two-year project. The attraction was completed in October 2002 and since then has become a popular way for people to learn the story of the Norfolk Islanders history and heritage.
Housed in the same complex, the excellent Hilli Restaurant & Cafe (see the ‘Eating Out‘ section for more details) provides one of the finer dining experiences on Norfolk Island.
Kingston is the administrative centre of Norfolk Island and has the distinction of being the second-oldest settlement in Australia, founded a little over a month after Sydney.
It’s also the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area (KAVHA) which includes the ruins of the former convict penal settlement and a number of restored buildings from that settlement.
Queen Elizabeth Lookout
Located on Rooty hill, the Queen Elizabeth Lookout is the best place to gain an overview of the Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area (KAVHA).
The best place to gain an appreciation of historic Kingston is from the Queen Elizabeth lookout which is located on Rooty Hill road.
The lookout provides panoramic views of the historical houses along Quality Row which were built during the 2nd Convict settlement. The lookout was opened on the 11th of February 1974 by Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to the island.
Norfolk Island New Gaol
Remains of the main gate of the New Gaol in Kingston.
The convict precinct in Kingston was located along the sea front, under the watchful eye of the authorities on the nearby hill. The largest walled compound in this precinct is the New Gaol which was built in 1847. The ruins of the five pentagonal wings remain as does the impressive entrance gate and surrounding walls.
The former Commissariat Store today houses a museum and the All-Saints Church.
One of the main sights on Quality Row, the Commissariat Store was completed in 1835 and originally housed a liquor store and a general store in the basement, a storeroom and meal room on the 1st floor, an engineer’s store on the 2nd floor and a grain store on the 3rd floor.
In 1874 the building was converted into the All-Saints Church, but not before removing the 2nd floor to create a church with a higher ceiling.
The basement is home to the Norfolk Island Commissariat Store museum which features displays detailing the first and second settlements on the island.
The Commissariat Store was protected by fortified stoned walls.
Norfolk Island Cenotaph
Inaugurated in 1929, the Norfolk Island Cenotaph was originally erected to commemorate those who died in service or were killed in action in World War One.
Across the road from the Commissariat Store, the Norfolk Island Cenotaph was originally erected to commemorate the lives of those who died during WWI.
The men of Norfolk Island have fought and died in many wars alongside the British, including the Boar war (11 Oct 1899 – 31 May 1902) which is also included on the memorial.
Pier Store Museum
The canon from the HMS Bounty is one of the main exhibits at the Norfolk Island Pier Store museum.
The Norfolk Island Pier Store museum focuses on the third settlement on Norfolk Island – the arrival of the Pitcairn Islanders.
Displays include relics from the HMS Bounty, including a canon, wedding ring, iron kettle and an ironstone platter. All of these were removed from the Bounty for use on Pitcairn Island and were then carried to Norfolk Island.
The Crank Mill
The Crank mill was built in 1827 to serve as the Commissariat granary.
Located next to the Pier Store in the convict precinct, the Crank mill was originally built in 1827 as the Commissariat Granary. A decade later a Crank was installed for the “punishment of men in irons”.
The crank was powered by around 100 convicts, who would work all day, under tortuous conditions, milling flour for the settlement.
Historic Kingston pier was constructed between 1839 and 1849 by convicts who worked in waist-deep water while wearing iron leg-chains.
Kingston Pier is located adjacent to the original landing site of Lt Phillip Gidley King, who first set foot on Norfolk Island in March 1788, just six weeks after the founding of the new colony in Sydney, Australia.
A view of Kingston Pier from the original landing place where Lt Phillip Gidley King first stepped ashore Norfolk Island in 1788.
The pier was built between 1839 and 1849 using limestone cut from the reef. The original design called for a longer pier but conditions proved impossible for the convicts who worked ‘up to their armpits‘ in rough seas while wearing leg irons.