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Sorrel on the Norfolk Island coast.
Sorrel on the Norfolk Island coast.
Polynesian-influenced architecture.
From penal settlement to pine-filled paradise.

Norfolk Island

Thursday, September 7, 2000
From penal settlement to Pacific paradise, this simply beautiful island enjoys sub-tropical temperatures all year round.

When Captain James Cook arrived at Norfolk Island in 1774 he proclaimed it a paradise, and people are still saying it today. Between then and now, though, the island was the first British penal settlement. From 1788 to 1814 it was the final stop for shipload after shipload of convicts and soldiers, one of whom wrote of Norfolk, "the most beautiful island in the Pacific, transformed into a dismal dungeon".

In 1856 the population of Pitcairn Island moved to Norfolk, and about half of the island's 1800 population are of Pitcairn descent. The other half are Australians and New Zealanders. Only 700 of the population speak the language called Norfolk, which was taken to the island by the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives, and is a mixture of English and Tahitian.

Norfolk Island, just 8km long and 5km wide, has a beautiful subtropical climate with no extremes of hot or cold. Although it has been under Australian administration since 1914, it is not part of Australia. The islanders control their own immigration, and Norfolk has its own tax laws, with no income tax, no GST, no sales tax and no corporate tax. Major revenue sources are customs duty, liquor sales, financial institutions' levies, departure fees and charges for telephone and electricity.

The best way to explore the island is by car as there is no public transport system. Rental rates are quite cheap, but remember: cows have supreme right of way.

The national park covers 460 hectares and has a lot of the island's remaining rainforest, about 55 bird varieties and 173 plant species. The locals are desperately trying to preserve the rare and threatened Norfolk Island owl. The island's most famous symbol, the Norfolk Island pine, is very evident — they have been known to grow as tall as 57 metres with an 11-metre circumference. The only indigenous mammal is a bat. As the island has never been joined to any land mass there are no amphibians, no snakes and just two reptiles have been recorded — a gecko and a skink.

The park has nine tracks, which are rated from gentle to moderate, and take between 20 and 90 minutes to walk. None is longer than four kilometres. The Bridle Track goes from the Captain Cook Monument and is linked to the Red Road Track to Mount Pitt. It has wonderful views of offshore islands and the coastline.

Tradewinds Country Cottages are on the eastern side of the island at Steels Point. Lyle Tavener is a seventh generation descendent of Fletcher Christian, and he and his wife Robyn built the cottages to supplement their dairy, pig and horse farm. There are four two-bedroom cottages and a three-bedroom plantation-style house. They have full kitchens, king-size beds and ensuites, ceiling fans and gas heaters, television and video, laundry and wheelchair access.


About 2½ hours' flying time east of Australia.


Fastbrook Pacific Holidays has seven-night packages, including Qantas return economy airfares, twin-share accommodation at Tradewinds, a 4WD tour, half-day island tour and transfers, starting at $1279 per person from Sydney, $1449 from Melbourne and Adelaide, $1559 from Brisbane, and $1769 from Perth.
Jimbo's 4WD Tours cost $22 per adult and $11 for children for four hours.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Fastbook Pacific Holidays
Ph: 1300 361 153
Norfolk Island Tourism
0011 6 7232 2147
Tradewinds Country Cottages
0011 6 7232 2295
Jimbo's 4WD Tours
0011 6 7232 2424

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