Bounty Day… From a Visitor’s Perspective

​A day that is precious to Norfolk Islander's hearts is Anniversary Day, otherwise known as Bounty Day. Each year on the 8th of June a celebration takes place in remembrance of the day their Ancestors arrived from Pitcairn Island. While some Bounty Day traditions may have changed over the years, the clothes, the food and the sense of belonging never change, with an emotional bonding portrayed every single year.

​Rain, hail or shine, locals gather on the Kingston pier dressed in their traditional outfits, all fitted with locally made 'Bounty Hats'. This is something you have to see to believe. It's like a wonderful step back in time. As visitors we are encouraged to attend and watch from afar, but bring your camera as this is something you will not see anywhere else and really needs to be captured. With a small re-enactment of the landing to start the day, a lighter (boat) is launched off the pier and into the water. After a short row, the passengers are welcomed to the island by two people role-playing the historical characters of Mr and Mrs Stewart, who were the caretakers of Norfolk Island until the Pitcairn people arrived.

​The huge crowd of locals commence their march through Kingston as the visitors scatter themselves along the sides of the road for the best photo opportunities. Once the crowd arrives at the Cenotaph they stop to pay their respects to the fallen soldiers, and wreaths are laid by the matriarchs of each family. Following the wreaths everyone joins in the singing of 'God Save the Queen' which you don't hear often, but it remains the national anthem of Norfolk Island.

The procession of islanders then move along to the island's Cemetery where a very special part of the day occurs. You can watch the locals pay their respects to family members been laid to rest. While this is being done pay particular attention to the beautiful singing of some Norfolk hymns including: Let the lower lights be burning; In the Sweet Bye and Bye; The Pitcairn Anthem; and John Adams Prayer. It is truly breathtaking.​

​For visitors here is where your Bounty Day may end, unless you have a Bounty Day lunch booked with one of the tour companies or have been lucky enough to be asked to join a local's family for lunch. For the islanders its morning tea time and the judging of the best dressed family, a highly prestigious award according to the locals. Our delicious Bounty Day lunch was awaiting us next to the Old Goal (the venue where the locals have their family lunch). The Bounty Day lunch is the biggest smorgasbord of food I have ever seen and one of my favourite foods for the day was the plun pilhi (baked Banana Slice), which was delicious.

​If you have ever considered what time of the year to visit Norfolk Island… I can honestly say a holiday around Bounty Day is unique, and something that will stay etched in your memory forever.

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