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

You don't have to be a history buff to appreciate the many layers of Norfolk Island's history, it simply surrounds you. Although the island's four distinct settlements are widely documented, here's a refresher.

  • There's evidence near to Emily Bay of a Polynesian settlement estimated to have existed between 650 and 1000 years ago.
  •  Explorer Captain Cook discovered the island on his second voyage into the southern hemisphere on 10 October 1774, and there were no inhabitants when he landed.
  •  On 6 March 1788 a small group of convicts and Military established the island's first convict settlement which was mostly an agricultural settlement. They provided supplies such as grains and pigs back to old Sydney town.               The settlement closed in 1814.
  • From 1825-1855 the island was a place of secondary punishment for convicts who re-offended, and the island's isolation made it ideal for the harsh sentences delivered.
  • In 1856 when the descendants of the Bounty mutineers arrived from Pitcairn Island to make a new life for themselves the fourth settlement was established and exists to the present day.

As you explore the island, look out for these historical points of interest.

St Barnabas Chapel.
  • Melanesian Mission.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             The Melanesian Mission was established on Norfolk in 1866 and ran until 1920. It started with 16 youths from other South Pacific Islands and by 1899 there were 201. The Mission was run by the Church of England where boys and girls were taught about Christianity and general life skills.Buildings from the Mission days can still be seen and are in the Headstone area locally known as "Out Mishen".                                                                                                                                           St Barnabas Chapel with its famous rose windows is always open, just shut the door behind you to keep the birds out! Near to the Chapel and built during the Mission era is the Church Rectory and Bishops Court house. Both are now privately owned. 
Mount Bates.

  • Mount Bates Tracking Station.  Located in the National Park and standing guard over the island is Mount Bates. At 319 metres high, it was an obvious location to build a Radar tracking station during World War II. During 1943 to 1944 the Station tracked over 200 planes. Drive to the top of Mount Pitt and walk the Summit track to Mount Bates.                                                                                                                                                                                                         Keep an eye out along the pathway for remains of the station. Some remnants are well- hidden among the undergrowth of the rainforest.
Anson Bay.

The Pacific Cable was built in 1902 and provided essential communication links from as far away as Canada to Australia, to other Pacific Islands and to Norfolk Island. Anson Bay was the landing site of the three 'submarine' cable sections.

In the early days overseas messages were received by a telegram delivered to your door, or you had to go into the OTC office (Overseas Telecommunications Commission) to use their public phones. The switchboard lady had to connect the callers first! The local Cable Station located at Anson Bay is still standing and is now used as a storage facility for the Norfolk Island Regional Council.

Pier Store Museum.

This two storey World Heritage building houses an incredible collection of objects depicting the saga of the Mutiny on the Bounty, life on Pitcairn Island and the arrival of the descendants to Norfolk in 1856.

Perhaps the smallest and most interesting item in this museum is the Bounty wedding ring. The ring was used during the early days on Pitcairn Island to marry the mutineers to their Polynesian partners.The ring was missing for many years and then found in a vegetable garden on Pitcairn during the early 1940's, then kindly donated to the Norfolk Island Museum in the 1980's. 

The "Norfolk Islander" is the local newspaper that is published every Saturday and is a great little souvenir retailing for just $3.00. Printed in black and white on A4 paper and held together with two staples, the paper has been the same format for over 50 years ago. Look for the columns such as 'Interesting Items' in the Kingston Museums or 'Pages from the Past' a column of local news from days gone by.

Who would have thought that such a small island would have so many remarkable stories to tell but wait…. there's more!

  • During World War II the airport runway was built and a row of Norfolk Island pines, known as Pine Avenue, had to be removed.
  • Thanksgiving Day became a Norfolk tradition after it was introduced by American workers living on the island during the whaling industry.
  • There was once a booming export industry of Kentia palm seeds which wer shipped off to European countries.

There is a saying in the local language "Dem tal" which means they say, or rumour has it, but we can confirm that these intriguing stories aren't made up. Visit Norfolk Island soon and discover the truth for yourself!

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