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

There are several options of flight paths for planes approaching to land on Norfolk Island. Passengers may see the rugged cliffs of Anson Bay, or fly over the   World Heritage Site at Kingston. But there is one flight path which could slightly rattle the nerves of first time visitors as they look out of the plane window and see a small rugged island (that is Phillip) and can be mistaken as Norfolk Island. "How are we going to land on that?!" they contemplate as their hearts pound. Nevertheless, once the towering cliffs of bigger Norfolk Island come in to view, big sighs of relief can often be heard throughout the plane!

Formed millions of years ago by a volcanic eruption, Phillip Island is an uninhabited outcrop lying 6km south of Norfolk Island. Named after Arthur Phillip the first Governor of New South Wales, the island was once used as a hunting ground during the convict penal settlements. Pigs, goats and rabbits were killed by Officers and used as a source of food for the settlement. Unfortunately over time, these animals destroyed the soil and vegetation and the island and literally turned into a wasteland. 

Thankfully in 1996, Phillip Island became part of the Norfolk Island National Parks. Over the years and as a result of hard work by the Parks team, islanders and volunteers, Phillip Island is now free of any predators making it a safe nesting site for thousands of migrating seabirds. The island is also home to unique native plants, five of which are endemic and only found on Phillip. Needless to say the road to recovery is a constant work in progress but one that is significantly essential.

Often seen on Phillip Island are two rare reptiles - the native Lord Howe Island Skink and the Lord Howe Island Gecko. These scaly residents are endemic to Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island, and they even have bragging rights to their own Australia Post stamp issue. Both reptiles are listed as 'vulnerable' which is wild-life talk for 'circumstances that can threaten the survival and reproduction of a species'. 

The good news is that the giant Cormocephalus coynei centipede, also known as the Phillip Island centipede has been rediscovered. It was first observed back in 1792 and not observed again until 1984. It's hard to believe that this critter wasn't sited earlier as it is known to grow up to 150mm long and 17mm wide!

Although no-one lives permanently on Phillip Island, Norfolk Island residents can book the fisherman's hut for a weekend away. Affectionately called the Phillip Island Hilton, the hut has million dollar sea-views, a spacious front deck and pretty good internet connection!

Visitors with a good level of fitness and a sense of adventure can book a half day Phillip Island Trek and explore the island with David at Charter Marine and a experienced National Park Guide. The boat trip out to Phillip from the Kingston pier takes about 20 minutes and will only operate when sea conditions are calm.

If you do the trek make sure you take a spare pair of socks or reef shoes with you because your feet will definitely get wet! There's no man-made landing spot on Phillip and the boat pulls up to a cove for you to step off onto the rocks. The first part of the trek is an exhilarating climb to the top of the island via foot holes in the cliff face and a rope ladder – this will guarantee to get your arms and legs working. But once at the top, your efforts will be rewarded with incredible views of reddish orange valley's and hills dotted with the greenery of stately Norfolk Pines. The dark pink colour of the Phillip Island hibiscus pops out against ground covers and you will most likely witness the occasional flashes of white as seabirds fly high above you.


On the other hand, you don't have to take a boat trip, get your feet wet AND scale up cliffs to learn about magnificent Phillip. The Discovery Centre located in the National Park Botanical Gardens is a place where you can learn about the fascinating natural history of all three islands (Norfolk, Phillip and Nepean). The Discovery Centre opens daily and is free to visit.

Every person who is fortunate enough to visit Phillip Island is asked to tread lightly upon its precious soil and respect all that this amazing landscape has to offer. Sometimes referred to as the Uluru of the Pacific, Phillip Island may only be 6km away but it is truly a world away.

You will not find penguins on this Phillip Island but you will find other feathered friends like masked boobies, black-winged petrels, sooty terns and even a Kermadic petrel chick called Nigel! **

** In early 2021 volunteers from @Birdlifeoz spent time on Phillip surveying winter breeding pairs of Kermadec petrels and attaching trackers to winter breeding parents. They've only found one new nest laid in winter, but all the chicks noted from the last survey did survive. They caught a petrel chick during the survey and named him after the National Park manager Nigel.

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