The Second Settlement of Norfolk Island was designed to be a living hell. Only the worst of the worst convicts were transported there with little hope of making it back to mainland Australia. Their punishment was to do manual labour from sunrise to sunset with no proper tools. They would get flogged for trivial offences. The prisons and related buildings were built close to the water and the buildings on Quality Row (houses for non-convicts and government offices) were built further up the hill to provide maximum surveillance and lessen the chances of successful escape by convicts. Some of the buildings have fallen to ruin over the years but you can still see the walls of the prison.
The entry to the Civil Hospital.
In this building we watched “The Trial of 15”, a quite-funny play about the history of the convict past. Fifteen different characters from the island’s early settlement to the arrival of the Pitcairners give evidence, thereby revealing the history of the island. I wasn’t surprised to learn that the play has been running for several sessions every week for more than ten years. Unfortunately we couldn’t take photos during the play.
The next stop on our tour was the cemetery. This is actually the second cemetery. The first one was built near Emily Bay (not far from this one) during the first settlement. Being on the edge of the ocean means there has been a lot of damage over hundreds of years by the winds.
There are some fascinating (and tragic) stories behind a lot of the headstones. We saw the graves of some of the mutineers from the Bounty and their descendants. There were a lot of young deaths but I saw one where a man had lived to 105 years old.
This photo clearly shows the ravages the wind coming off the ocean can do to trees. It fascinated me
We had only just got back on the bus tour of Kingston at the Commissariat when we stopped again what felt like a few metres up the road. I couldn’t see anything to look at but the driver was quite animated as he led us to the Baths. It was obvious he is really proud of what they have achieved.
The Baths are an engineering marvel because they help supply fresh water to Kingston. It is believed that two stonemasons were deliberately convicted of crimes in London so they could be transported to Norfolk Island to help the residents address some of their engineering needs.
The bath is an underground passage with a domed ceiling made of stone. Fresh water from a dammed creek in the Soldiers’ Gully flows through the conduit to the Officers’ Bath. The fresh water then passes below the Quality Row and cascades into the stream, which flows through the Common into the Emily Bay.
One of the quaint things we found in Norfolk Island is that cows have right of way on the roads. There were a few times where we had to sit and wait for a herd of cows to move off the road to allow us to pass.
The path is very narrow. When we first started walking along it we didn’t realise how narrow it was. It narrowed so much it became dangerous but we kept going. It didn’t help that we were walking along a cliff-face either. My parents are in this photo negotiating their way along the path.
Captain James Cook stopped briefly on the northern coast of Norfolk Island on his journey to discover Australia. He saw the gigantic pine trees and thought the wood would be make perfect masts for his fleet. However he soon found the wood is too soft and moved his fleet of ships on to their next destination.
A monument to his brief stay has been erected. From the monument, you can see more beautiful, rugged coastline.
Anson Bay is the most beautiful beach (in my opinion) on the island. It is very spectacular and rugged and home to some of the most beautiful sunsets. We first saw it in the daytime and decided to go back and watch the sunset one night. However it wasn’t until the last night that we realised we hadn’t seen it. We had been in Kingston and just as the dusk came around we realised we only had a short time to get to the other end of the island. Now that sounds like it’s a long way and will take a long time. However it only took us 8 minutes to get there.
This is what we saw. One of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen up to then.
At night you focus on the sun setting on the horizon but during the day you see steep, rugged cliffs, surf hitting the beach and some wonderful bush walks.
Pinetree Tours runs a really good Sound & Light Show which explains the history of the convict area. Centred around the village of Kingston where the old Gaol and other buildings were located, the mini-bus drives us around to each of the locations. At each one we were told a story about that building or area. It was very realistic and really interesting.
This beautiful church was built by, and for, the Melanesians who lived on the island between 1880 and 1920. Thousands of students moved to the island and were self-sufficient on the western side of the island. They built this church among many other buildings. Few remain unfortunately.
The chapel itself was recycled from the ruins of the Old Gaol.
Freight deliveries are a big deal on Norfolk Island. The island is 1600kms from Australia where it gets a lot of it’s supplies. The cheapest way to bring things to the island is by boat. Planes are extremely expensive. Pretty much everything from food to cars and boats are shipped in. And not very regularly either. In fact it is such a big deal that for days before the freighters are due, you can feel the excitement building up amongst the residents. Many of them have begun to run out of stock in their shops or are just looking forward to something new to sell.
We were lucky to be there when a ship was due. If the weather’s not good enough for the goods to be unloaded, the freighters have to wait out at sea for the right day. Therefore, supplies can be tantalisingly close but so far. Everything has to be cleared through Customs so it can take a day or so for the smaller boats to load up from the freighters and unload on the dock. We were among the many people who parked our car and just sat there watching the activity. It was a great insight into such an important event for the island.
Most of the beaches on Norfolk Island are at the base of steep cliffs but Emily Bay isn’t and is one of the safest beaches on the island. It’s the perfect family beach, protected by a reef off the nearby headland. It’s also a great spot for snorkelling. It’s a beautiful, peaceful area surrounded by Norfolk Pines.
Looking from Emily Bay to Kingston and other historic buildings and ruins.
The lookout is one of the most popular on the island. It overlooks the town of Kingston which used to be the main town but is now the main administrative and historical town on the island. Norfolk Island has been settled three times in the last 230 years. Most of the current buildings were built during the second and third settlements.
In the picture above you can see some of the oldest and most historic buildings on the island. They include the Commissariat Store, New Military Barracks, Old Military Barracks and the Officer’s Bath which was an engineering marvel. These buildings still stand but you can also see the ruins of many other buildings including houses. At number 10 Quality Row, there is a beautiful house and garden. They were all built during the second settlement of the island between 1825 and 1855. It was then known as hell on earth.
Our first view of the island. You can see it’s not a large island. Approximately 8kms x 3.5kms. The airport takes up around one third of the island as you can see from the air. The cleared land in the centre is the airport. It took about 4 hours to fly there from Melbourne. The island is only a small island; about 877 kms east of Australia and is a territory of New South Wales with it’s own government.
Phillip Island is about 6km south of Norfolk Island. It is uninhabited due to being so rocky.
This photo was taken as the plane landed and was our first real view of the beautiful, lush green island that was to be our home for the next week.
The airport is tiny. It really only contains a waiting area, small customs area and some offices behind the doors. We learned very quickly that most Islanders work 2 or 3 jobs and can often be seen clearing you through Customs at the airport then serving you your dinner at one of the restaurants.
I took this photo when I was on Norfolk Island, a tiny island in the southwest Pacific Ocean and north of New Zealand. Despite being 1400 kilometres from Australia, it is in fact a part of New South Wales but has it’s own government. It is closer to New Caledonia than Australia. It began settled life as a penal colony in the 1800’s. It is now a beautiful, peaceful island with absolutely stunning scenery.
I found this wooden boat beside a building in the main town of the island, Kingston.