Getaway Fact sheets
You are here: ninemsn > Travel > Getaway > Fact sheets

Norfolk Island

Thursday, September 23, 2010
When Getaway asked Dermott Brereton to visit Norfolk Island, his thoughts were about Fletcher Christian, the 1788 Bounty mutiny and big pine trees. He soon found out there was much more to the island than that. So much so that when Getaway reporter Sorrel Wilby went there, she loved it so much the family packed up and moved there!

The tip of the massive volcano is thought to have surged from the ocean around 3 million years ago. It is a territory "under the authority" of Australia, but not owned by it. Australian citizens need a document of identity, obtainable from a post office. Norfolk finances its own education, police and airport.

There are around 1800 permanent residents who all speak English, of course, but you will hear them speaking Norf'k, a language derived from the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives who settled Pitcairn Island in 1790. Norf'k was recognised as an endangered language by UNESCO in 2007.

Its long and complex history is fascinating. It is thought Tahitians settled there in the 14th or 15th century, stayed for a few generations and then left. Pitcairn islanders arrived in the 1800s. It became a dreadfully harsh penal colony and punishment by death was a regular occurrence.

The island is so hilly it's a good idea to hire a car so you can see more than is possible on foot. Remember chooks and cows on the road have right of way! It's also a good idea to learn the Norfolk wave. Everyone does it and it's proof of how friendly the islanders are.

Dermott took a look around Norfolk with Arthur Evans, a born and bred local and historian. His tours include a visit to the cemetery, a fascinating place to spend a couple of hours.

Kingston was once the hub of the island and its pier is still the lifeblood of the community with freighters arriving every six weeks with supplies. It also has the oldest cricket pitch in the Southern Hemisphere. The first match was played on it in 1838.

Governor's Lodge Resort Hotel

The 55 one-bedroom lodges are spread over five hectares of land that is part of a 20 hectare grant made to James Dawe in 1856. It's in the centre of the island and comes with complimentary car use. It has lots of Norfolk pines and tropical flowers, pool, heated spa and access to a tennis court.

Bailey's Restaurant has an à la carte, contemporary menu enjoyed in an early 1900s homestead. Its timber-lined colonial style is perfect for candlelit dinners and in summer guests dine on its flagstone verandah.

The cafe complements the old homestead. Diners enjoy breakfast or lunch surrounded by subtropical gardens where there is always something in bloom. They are very proud of their locally grown and roasted Arabica coffee.

Tropical Sea Kayaks

With around 32km of coastline, a great way to see the island is from the water so Dermott went kayaking with Peter Cassidy. He's a busy man and visitors see him working at the airport, running tourist accommodation, treks, glass-bottom boat tours as well as in a kayak. He also has a share in the local television station.

French explorer Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse said in 1788 the island's coastline was so rugged it was fit only for angels and eagles. It is a place of secret bays, off-shore islands and haunting rock formations.

Peter's tours can be a gentle or tough paddle — it's up to you — and they cover around 7km. They leave Cascade Pier and wind around to Captain Cook Lookout where you are treated to one of the best views of the island. You'll see green sea turtles, petrel and Tasman boobies flying about and at the right time, humpback whales frolicking in the water.

Norfolk Fish Fry

Now here's an island tradition not to miss. Run by Sam Sheridan, descendant of Fletcher Christian, the Fish Fry began with his mother 40 years ago as a family event. They caught fish, lit a fire and shallow fried the catch on the rocks. Now tourists join in and these days it's quite a feast of salads and traditional foods, laid out overlooking Puppy's Point.

It was a great place for Dermott to catch up with Sorrel Wilby. She and her family are locals these days and they all agree that it was the best move they've ever made.

One quirky thing Sorrel pointed out to Dermott was the local phone book. The slim directory is full of Christian, Christian-Bailey, Buffets, Quintals, Nobbs, Evans, Adams and McCoys, all descendents of the mutineers. With so many shared surnames, identification is made easier by the use of nicknames. You'll see Bodge, Loppy, Smudge, Toofie and Tatie, Bubby, Diddles, Hunky, Tardy and Pelly!

Related: learn more about the native Tahitians that settled Norfolk


Norfolk Island, a two-hour flight from Sydney.


Governor's Lodge rooms start at $235 a night.

Adventures Norfolk kayaks are $8 an hour or $20 for half a day.

Pinetree Tours Island Fish Fry costs $51 per person.

Aata Orn Tours with Arthur Evans cost $50 per person.

Norfolk Air has flights to Norfolk Island.

Fares from:

  • Brisbane $644
  • Newcastle $693
  • Sydney $722
  • Melbourne $792
Prices correct at September 23, 2010.

For further information

Norfolk Air
Ph: 1800 612 960

Governor's Lodge Resort Hotel
Queen Elizabeth Avenue
Norfolk Island
Ph: +6723 24400
Fax: +6732 4300

Adventures Norfolk
Ph: +6723 50208

Pinetree Tours
Taylors Road
Norfolk Island
Ph: +6723 22424
Fax: +6723 23024

Aata Orn Tours

Australian citizens need a Document of Identity, obtainable from a post office.

User comments
We recently returned from 10 days on Norfolk Island. What a treat. Everyone was so welcoming, everything was wonderful. We stayed at Lavendula Cottage - highly recommended. Arthur Evan's tour was the best and I loved Margaret Christian's bird watching tour. We attended a wonderful Tahitian feast, went out with a local photographer who showed us better photographic vantage points. We loved the fact there was no graffiti, no roadside rubbish, no hoons, no whingeing kids! You want perfect? It's gotta be Norfolk Island!
Norfolk Island - simply terrific. Spent 13 nights on this beautiful island. Highlites included Wonderland by night, Fish Fry, Night as a Convict, Cyclorama and of course watching the unloading of the cargo ship. People, cows and ducks very very friendly. Would certainly go back.
Just returned from 7 nights stay at Norfolk Holiday Apartments in Taylors Road. Great! Beautiful scenery and lucky to be at Cascade Bay watching the unloading of the supply ship and the 'lighters' bringing it ashore. Kingston is amazing, very beautiful, every thing is so green and the restaurants are excellent. Special mention of Chinese Restaurant and Chum Cha. Very relaxing. Fish Fry spectacular with tahitian dancing and wonderful singer. Loved it and going back.
What is the song at 2 31 ?
We visited Norfolk Island earlier this year and loved it!! It is well worth the trip. We stayed at Cumberland (we had friends staying at Govenors and it wasn't nearly as nice) and we ate at Hillis almost every night (fantastic restaurant). There's so much to do and the snorkelling was amazing.
Please show holidays where there are NO kids. I would be quite willing to test this out for you. I am a 69 y.o single. young lady, but I dont want to be swamped with other peoples kids, grandkids. They are horrid. I am a single lady who loves new experiences, but not ones to be shared by noisy children. There must be something for people like me.

Related links


Brochure Search

Free electronic brochures with information, resources and holiday ideas for unique getaways.

Select a destination:
Sign up nowTo Receive the free Getaway newsletter