Sorrel shows us around her own island home ... Norfolk.
Norfolk Island is a majestic jewel in the Pacific Ocean, close enough to the Australian coast to be within easy reach, far enough away to be remote. It is rich in tradition and has a wonderful sense of family and community. Just eight kilometres long and five kilometres wide, Norfolk depends on tourism for 90 percent of its economy. So besotted was Getaway's adventurer Sorrel Wilby with the island on her first visit for the program in 2000, she and her family are now cemented in as residents and loving it.
Captain Cook discovered the island in 1774 and the first Europeans arrived in 1788. It was later handed over to the descendents of the HMS Bounty mutineers, who'd outgrown the tiny nearby Pitcairn Island. It was known as hell in the Pacific in the 18th and 19th centuries, but that is all in the history books. Around a third of its residents are descendents of the Bounty settlers, with surnames of Christian, Quintal, Adams and Young quite common.
Norfolk's strict immigration laws only allow descendents of the original settlers or those who purchase an existing business to take up residence in their paradise. It is an independent territory of Australia, with its own administration, postage stamps (which are highly coveted by philatelists) and immigration policies. Their currency is the Australian dollar.
Visitors are treated to huge doses of fresh air, a beautiful rural landscape, deep blue water, rolling green hills, Norfolk pines and very interesting people. They have their own language, which is a kind of pigeon English derived from old Scottish and English words, with a good sprinkling of Polynesian.
One of Sorrel's favourite places is Simon's Water, a privately-owned waterfront reserve where trespassers are welcome! Sorrel has a favourite tree there, amongst the thousands of pines, and she loves to sit underneath it, looking out to sea and watching the sea birds come in to nest.
About one third of Norfolk is covered with national park or recreation reserves, which give lots of chances for a leisurely walk or hike. Locals are very proud and protective of their many unique plant species. From Mount Pitt and Mount Bates you can enjoy views of the entire island and the two-kilometre walk to the Captain Cook monument also gives splendid views across the ocean.
Advance Fishing and Boat Tour Company has been running for 22 years. Darren Bates says that in all that time they have never come in without a catch. They take trips around the island, but mostly concentrate on fishing on the reefs. Trips go out early and come in at 11am and many people take their catch to their accommodation to cook … after Darren has done all the hard work of cleaning and gutting!
Bounty Divers run diving and snorkelling trips. Jack Marges and Karlene Christian, a seventh-generation islander, are very experienced, not only in the waters directly around Norfolk, but Nepean and Philip islands as well. They are of volcanic origin and the underwater terrain is dominated by swim-throughs, caves, arches and walls. They are covered with lots of marine life in which hard corals predominate. The marine environment is one of the last remaining pristine and unspoiled ecosystems in the world, with little pollution. There are no running rivers to dump into the ocean and no commercial exploitation of marine resources.
When you're hungry, Garrison Restaurant is one of the best places to go. It was the island's first licensed restaurant. They serve local seafood and produce, along with dishes with Asian, Mediterranean and European influences.
A wonderful place to meet locals and enjoy a coffee is the Golden Orb Bookshop Café. There are comfortable couches for about 40, pictures and plenty of books. It's at the end of the main street so has a nice tucked-away feel. Lunches and snacks are served each day and their coffee is delicious.
1600km east of the Australian coast
Advance Fishing has trips starting at $65 per person and Round Island boat tours for $60 per person.
Qantas has codeshare flights with Norfolk Jet three times a week to Norfolk Island, starting at $618 from Brisbane, $709 from Sydney, $985 from Melbourne, $1099 from Adelaide, $1349 from Perth and $1483 from Darwin, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
Box 800, Norfolk Island 2899
Ph: 0011 6723 23363
Fax: 0011 6723 firstname.lastname@example.org
Box 639 Norfolk Island 2899
Ph: 0011 6723 22751
Fax: 0011 6723 email@example.com
The Golden Orb Bookshop Café
Taylors Road, Norfolk Island 2899
Ph: 0011 6723 24295
Taylors Road, Norfolk Island 2899
Ph: 0011 6723 firstname.lastname@example.org
Qantas: 13 13 13