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Jersey, in the Channel Islands.
Jersey, in the Channel Islands.
Downtown Jersey.
The moonlight parade.


Thursday, May 20, 2004
It holds the British Isles sunshine record ... residents say they take their food from the French and humour from the English!

Jersey is the largest of the five main Channel Islands. About 85,000 people live on the 116-square-kilometre island, which is 160km off Britain's mainland but only 20km from France.

While it takes under an hour to fly to Jersey from London and the island looks and feels like Britain, it is a self-governing independent state. The rich have been going there since Napoleonic times. With its low taxes and enviable lifestyle, at least 150 millionaires call it home — but immigration is limited to 10 new residents a year.

You don't have to be in the Rothschild or Goldsmith bracket to enjoy Jersey. It holds the British Isles sunshine record and, despite being such a small island, has more than 170 restaurants. Residents say they take their food from the French and their humour from the English and most would agree it's a good thing it worked out that way. Each May the island hosts an international food festival and visitors go from restaurant to restaurant sampling different foods. Always popular is fruits de mer, an enormous platter of fresh local seafood.

Over the past 900 years Jersey has had its share of invaders, as recently as the German army who occupied the island for five years during World War II, establishing themselves in Elizabeth Castle, a granite Georgian fortress on an islet one kilometre off the south coast. Their guns are still in the bunkers.

In the 5th century a monk who lived in isolation for 15 years on the islet furthest from the mainland spent his time warning locals of impending viking raids — and the vikings showed their anger at him for spoiling their fun by cutting off his head.

A monastery was built in his memory, but over the next 10 centuries it was downgraded to a church and eventually abandoned. In the 15th century the British built a fortress on the site and Sir Walter Raleigh named it Elizabeth Castle after his queen.

In 1650 the civil war between parliamentarians and royalists saw the castle besieged and bombed. It was rebuilt in the 18th century as the granite stronghold it is today.

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust was opened by Gerald Durrell in 1959. It was Durrell who pioneered the idea of saving endangered species, setting the standard for zoos around the world. One of Jersey's biggest successes is the revival of the Madagascan lemur, which was on the brink of extinction. Also proudly in residence is Missouri, a massive silverback gorilla born by artificial insemination 16 years ago in Melbourne Zoo.

Other lucky creatures include two Andean bears, five western lowland gorillas, Sumatran orang-outangs, South American tamarins and kestrels and pink pigeons from Mauritius. There are seven keeper talks each day.

In terms of physical activity, there's plenty to do on Jersey. There are several gyms, a snooker club, squash courts, clay pigeon shooting, lawn bowls, golf, croquet, or you can fish, ride, fly, sail, cycle or walk. If you fancy catching a wave at St Ouen's Bay, you'll be in good hands, as swimmers are protected by Australian lifesavers. This has been happening since the '60s and is no mean feat. The tides are 13m and they experience a lot of flash rips, which is when most people get into trouble.

Watching the sun set at Corbiere Lighthouse is very romantic and if you're on Jersey in the middle of August, watch the Battle of the Flowers. This moonlight parade commemorates the coronation of Edward VI and Queen Alexandra and the floats are smothered with flowers — a great big floral Mardi Gras!


The Channel Islands, south of England.


Qantas flies daily to London with connections to Jersey, Channel Islands operated by British Airways. Return economy airfares to Jersey start from $2365 from Perth, $2368 from Darwin and Brisbane, $2369 from Melbourne, $2375 from Adelaide and $2376 from Sydney, 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.

More information

Jersey Guernsey Travel
Ph: 1300 655 848
Qantas: 13 1313

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