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Phillip Island.
Phillip Island.
Phillip Island.
Scuba diving in the clear water.

Philip Island

Thursday, November 9, 2000
Bounty Divers takes snorkellers and divers to swim with tuna and kingfish through the colourful coral.

Norfolk Island is a mass of colour: the waters, the lush green pastures and the cliffs plunging into the sea. What comes as a surprise to many visitors to Norfolk is that just six kilometres away is Philip Island, rivalling Norfolk's fabulous colours.

The only way to get there is a 20-minute boat ride, and Mike Simpson and Karlene Christian of Land'n Sea Tours are the ones to take you to this special place. They hold the only permit allowing people to step ashore.

Philip Island was once covered in forest, but the army guarding prisoners on the penal settlement of Norfolk used it as a recreational escape. They released pigs, goats and rabbits to provide food and the animals turned the lush island barren.

With the removal of the animals, the island is recovering from its mass erosion. A mixture of native and exotic plants is now appearing. In 1996, Philip Island became an extension of the Norfolk Island National Park and is slowly being stabilised.

The island is volcanic and has no beach, so Mike manoeuvres the boat close to rocks, and you jump off and pull yourselves up using the ropes that are a permanent fixture. Rock and soil colours change from purple to orange and everything in between. The highest point is Jacky Jacky, at 300 metres. From there you can see Norfolk Island and spot sea turtles, schools of fish and plenty of birds.

Philip Island is home to 12 species of birds, mostly terns, masked boobies and tropical birds. There are 250 species of fish in the waters, but only locals are allowed to fish, and then just with hand lines.

You need a good level of fitness and agility to enjoy the trip and a tolerance of heights certainly helps. If you feel comfortable climbing with a rope, you have a real treat in store.

The waters around Norfolk Island have more than 40 prime diving sites ranging from caves and walls to reefs, hard coral, swim-through caverns, arches and grottos, mostly in less than 20 metres of clear water. The pristine environment is unpolluted, and no rivers run into the ocean. There is a coral reef 10 metres off the beach at Slaughter Bay and waves at Anson Bay are good for surfers.

Bounty Divers take snorkellers and divers to explore this amazingly beautiful part of the world, where you can swim amongst tuna, kingfish, colourful coral and an enormous variety of seaweed.

Location

A two-and-a-half-hour flight east of Australia.

Cost

Fastbook Pacific Holidays has seven-night packages, including Qantas return economy airfares, accommodation, half-day Philip Island tours and transfers. Prices per person start at $1159 from Sydney, $1319 from Melbourne and Adelaide, $1509 from Brisbane and $1639 from Perth.
Land'n Sea tours cost $130 per person, including boat trip and trek.
Bounty Divers run diving trips from $50 per person including equipment.
Qantas flies to Norfolk Island twice a week. Advance purchase return airfares are $736 from Brisbane, $750 from Sydney, $952 from Melbourne, $1134 from Adelaide, $1154 from Perth and $1116 from Hobart. Conditions apply.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Norfolk Island Tourism: Ph: (0011 6) 7232 2147
www.norfolkisland.com.au
Fastbook Pacific Holidays: Ph: 1300 361 153
www.fastbook.com.au
Land'n Sea: Ph: (0011 6) 7232 3418
Bounty Divers: Ph: (0011 6) 7232 2751

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