There's more to Norfolk Island There's more to Norfolk Island

Whether you’re a history buff or not, it won’t take you long to get swept up in Norfolk Island’s fascinating past, and to see that our history and culture are intricately entwined. Our heritage plays an important role in our traditions and everyday lives, from our foods to our music and folklore. Each year we honour these cultural traditions with vibrant festivals and events. Our history is unlike any other. In our museums and the Kingston UNESCO World Heritage Site you can learn about our very first Polynesian settlers, the British convicts who followed and the Bounty mutineer descendents who shaped our culture.

Norfolk Island’s convict history

In 1788, the British arrived on Norfolk Island and created a penal colony which existed until 1855. The glorious tropical idyll we see today was a place of nightmares for the convicts who served life sentences in this place that was known as Hell in the Pacific. Learn more about this brutal period at the 250-acre Kingston World Heritage Site where buildings, some now in ruins, once housed the convicts and later the Pitcairn settlers. And be sure to take a tour of our cemetery, a veritable library of tombstones which bring the stories of convicts and those who followed vividly back to life.

Norfolk Island’s Pitcairn culture

Captain Cook may have been the first European on Norfolk Island in 1774, but most of us on the island today owe our ancestry to one of the greatest adventures on the high seas: the Mutiny on the Bounty. After outgrowing tiny Pitcairn Island, the descendants of the Bounty mutineers were given Norfolk Island and the old prisoner’s settlement in 1856 by Queen Victoria, who we honour today in the beautiful Queen Victoria Memorial Gardens. No trip to the island is complete without visits to the Bounty Folk Museum and the award-winning Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama, a multi-sensory, 360° panoramic painting where the story of our Pitcairn ancestors unfolds before you.

Two cows walk down a road with alongside a sloping hill and historic buildings.
View of Kingston historic site and buildings with ocean in background.
Close up of hands weaving a traditional hat.
Historic ruins backing onto blue shallow waters with Norfolk Pine trees in the background.
Kingston World Heritage Site sign on green grass with sloping hills and Norfolk Island Pines in the background.
Historic stone ruins with sun shining through Norfolk Island pine trees
Historic stone ruins with sign carving stating site of the 1793 Government House
Six young women performing a cultural dance with traditional leaf skirts and woven hats on a cliff with ocean in the background.
Large group of Bounty Day attendees walking down a sloping green hill in traditional white costumes.
Interior view of historic stone building with no roof in Kingston UNESCO world heritage site.

Top tips for experiencing history & culture

  • Save money with an unlimited Museums Pass for access to four of Norfolk Island’s top museums.
  • To really immerse yourself in our history and culture, join us in March for Foundation Day or in June for Anniversary (Bounty) Day, two of our biggest annual celebrations.
  • Our local language plays an important role in our culture, so why not learn a few Norf’k phrases such as watawieh (hello, how are you?) or see yorlye morla (see you tomorrow)?
  • Travel back in time and experience our past traditions on this 3-Day History & Culture Itinerary

Historic and cultural attractions on Norfolk Island

All Saints Church

All Saints Church

All Saints Church also serves as a museum. Discover incredible artefacts from Norfolk’s history and join a Sunday service to meet locals.
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Bloody Bridge

Bloody Bridge

Don’t let the gory legend of Bloody Bridge deter you; visit this historic landmark to admire the stonework and hard labour of the convicts who built it.
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Bounty Folk Musuem

Bounty Folk Musuem

Discover Bounty memorabilia, early photographs of Pitcairn settlers, old weapons and some frankly quite terrifying antique medical instruments.
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The Commissariat

The Commissariat

Visit the Commissariat to learn about Norfolk’s convict past. This historic building once held food supplies for the convicts and jailers on Norfolk Island.
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Fletchers Mutiny Cyclorama

Fletchers Mutiny Cyclorama

Norfolk Island’s history unfolds at Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama, a 360° painting that depicts the mutiny on the Bounty.
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Norfolk Island Golf Club

Norfolk Island Golf Club

Play golf on Norfolk Island for a truly memorable experience. Tee off in a World Heritage Site overlooking the ocean.
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Government House

Government House

Government House is a stately mansion and home to the Administrator of Norfolk Island. Learn more on a museum tour of our historic centre, Kingston.
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Historical Photo Display - Lions Club House

Historical Photo Display - Lions Club House

Formerly the Surgeons Quarters, today this resilient little building houses a fascinating collection of photographs which bring the history of our island to life.
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Kingston Pier

Kingston Pier

Visit Kingston Pier, which was a vital entry point for Norfolk’s settlers and still welcomes supply ships and fishing boats as it has done for two centuries.
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Lone Pine

Lone Pine

Bring your camera along to capture this solitary tree that survived the mass felling of Norfolk pines and stood sentry over the island’s turbulent history.
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New Military Barracks

New Military Barracks

The New Military Barracks may be Norfolk’s administrative centre today, but it also has an interesting history.
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No. 10 Quality Row

No. 10 Quality Row

Turn back to Norfolk Island’s convict chapter at No. 10 Quality Row, now a museum. Learn about the home’s inhabitants as you wander through the restored interior.
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Norfolk Island Cemetery

Norfolk Island Cemetery

Our fascinating history takes on a new dimension at the Norfolk Island Cemetery. Read the grave stones marking two centuries of life on this South Pacific island.
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Old Military Barracks

Old Military Barracks

The Old Military Barracks have served many purposes over the years. Visit the Kingston UNESCO World Heritage Site to find out what important roles it has played.
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Pier Store

Pier Store

Learn about the mutiny on the Bounty and our Pitcairn history at Pier Store, located within the Kingston UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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Queen Victoria Memorial Gardens

Queen Victoria Memorial Gardens

Strolling through Queen Victoria Memorial Gardens is a treat for both horticulturists and history lovers. There’s something for everyone on Norfolk Island.
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Royal Engineer's Office

Royal Engineer's Office

The Royal Engineer's Office is a great place to start your investigation into Norfolk’s storied past
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Salt House

Salt House

Sitting on a headland overlooking Emily Bay, the Salt House is one of several evocative ruins and heritage buildings.
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Settlement Guard House

Settlement Guard House

This historic structure hosts the library for Norfolk Island Museums, which is a fitting nod to its storied life over the last 200 years.
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Sirius Museum - Protestant Chapel

Sirius Museum - Protestant Chapel

Learn about the seafaring saga of the Sirius, which wrecked just off the coast of Norfolk Island at the Sirium Museum within the Protestant Chapel.
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St. Barnabas Chapel

St. Barnabas Chapel

Marvel at the beautiful details of this 19th-century church. All are welcome to explore St. Barnabas Chapel and join its weekly services.
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The Arches

The Arches

The Arches, a series of stone archways, are one of Norfolk Island’s biggest mysteries. Ponder their original purpose when you visit them in Kingston.
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The Crankmill

The Crankmill

Wander the stone ruins of Crankmill, another one of Norfolk’s sites with a dark past. Book your holiday now to discover our island’s intriguing history!
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The Old Watermill

The Old Watermill

Set in a grassy valley next to an old dam, the crumbling ruins of the Old Watermill are a reminder of a dark chapter in Norfolk Island’s history
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