Added: Rayanne Melby - Date: 01.03.2022 22:31 - Views: 26598 - Clicks: 2659
Melissa Davey checks out the sites — and the homes of the locals — during her weekend on Norfolk Island. N orfolk Island, surrounded by pristine waters for snorkelling, surfing and kayaking, home to an expansive national park and walking trails, and offering an array of beaches and bays untouched by development, should be the kind of destination young people flock to.
But most of the tourists on the plane headed to the island are well past retirement age and, once there, spend much of their time on tour buses experiencing the island through the window. It means when venturing to a bay for a swim or walking through the national park, it is possible to do so completely alone, which feels special, but also strange.
Many tourists might opt for similar activities at cheaper destinations such as Fiji, Bali or on the Australian mainland, but there are qualities and quirks to Norfolk Island that make it a unique place to visit, such as the friendly locals who speak their own language a mix of colonial English and Tahitiana mutinous history and local laws that give cows right of way. But the global financial crisis hit the island hard, and it went from being a popular destination, particularly for those fascinated with its brutal convict past, to facing financial ruin.
This will no doubt affect tourism on the tax-free haven, which is just a two-hour flight from Sydney. It may be more expensive, but visiting now affords a perspective of the island at a unique time in its history. For better or worse, it will no doubt be a very different place within a couple of years. Donde gives me a driving tour around the main shopping strip on Taylors Road in Burnt Pine, something offered to all guests, pointing out the chocolate factory and places to buy duty-free alcohol and a good cup of coffee.
From the top of these hills, spotted with Norfolk Island pines, there are views of jagged cliffs, the bays, more cows and the sea. We pull up to the resort and I am shown my cabin, and the 4WD that comes with it. It thoroughly disorientates me. I walk back into town and grab a coffee at the Blue Bull cafe and restaurant, which specialises in local Norfolk Blue prime cuts and various beef dishes. I get a coffee and vow to come back for my beef fix some other time. The smell of steak wafting from the kitchen is ridiculously good.
My visit falls during country music month, and I notice many of the shop windows are delightfully tacky, decorated with country-themed paraphernalia. Saddened I will not be in town long enough for an advertised hoe-down, I see an advertisement for a meat-raffle and country music night at the RSL, and I know my Saturday night plans are set. To get a better idea of the lay-out of the island, I take the car for a spin before sunset.
I also quickly learn it is customary and polite to wave, or at least raise two fingers from the steering wheel, at every motorist you pass. Eventually I find myself at Steels Point at the north-east edge of the island, looking out from the top of a cliff as waves smash against the rocks. I pull over and walk for a while, taking in the howling sea at the edge of Loner looking for somebody to spend Norfolk Island with endless green.
There is no one else around, not even a cow. Patrons include airline staff from the Air New Zealand flight I arrived on and plenty of locals who, instantly spotting any newcomer, offer drinks and conversation in abundance. Farmers pull up in their trucks and sell fresh fruit and vegetables straight off the back.
Apart from a few root vegetables, no fresh produce is imported to Norfolk Island, so the market is where many locals source their weekly fruit and vegetable supply. After talking to the farmers I wander a couple of minutes up the road to Olive Cafe for breakfast, which is open daily from 6. Emily Bay is just 4km from the main town of Burnt Pine, and its sheltered reef makes it a great place for swimming and snorkelling.
The quaint scene today betrays the brutality suffered by the prisoners there. In the British government, embarrassed by the reputation of the infamous penal colony, which was then constitutionally a part of Tasmania, shut the convict settlement and offered the island to the descendants of the Bounty mutineers, who had escaped to tiny Pitcairn Island, 6,km out into the Pacific, more than half a century earlier. After exploring the ruins I go for a snorkel and am disappointed not to spot a giant turtle locals tell me has been seen in Emily Bay.
You can book snorkelling, kayaking and walking tours through the tourism office in town, or just head out yourself. This takes me to the cemetery, a few hundred metres down the road from the barracks, by the sea. The hetones have been carefully maintained and date back to the first settlement. Many cite the cause of death as drowning or execution. The day I visit, locals are preparing for a traditional funeral to take place the following day, placing flowers and shrubs into a massive pile which will be thrown by friends and family of the deceased on top of the coffin once it has been carefully lowered into the ground.
Throughout the week, many locals take turns to dig the grave, which is exactly six-feet deep — one of the many traditions still carried out on the island. The cows I constantly pass while walking or driving around the island remind me of the Blue Bull cafe in town, and it is here I head for dinner tonight to try the Norfolk Blue beef. Burgers, kebabs, pies and steak are also on the menu. Please eat here. For something more upmarket, try the Norfolk Blue restaurant at the Acre Farm itself. It has won many tourism awards, including for best formal dining — the cafe is their more everyday, sister establishment.
After dinner I wander haphazardly through the dark [no streetlights] to the Leagues Club where I the locals to watch the football and enjoy a couple of drinks. Later, we grab a bottle of wine and continue the conversation and merriment at one of their homes.
People here are famously warm and friendly, and this makes it impossible to drink or dine alone. Towards the north-west tip of the island sits the national park, which, given its location among the hilltops, is best accessed by car. The park is home to migratory birds and large colonies of breeding seabirds. Walking trails lead to lookouts which offer views of the island from a variety of stunning vantage points. These alone make it worth the visit. Fruit trees and flowers dot the walking paths, and s help to identify wildlife and plant species.
There are walks for all levels of fitness and maps can be found at the town visitor information centre. Entry to the park is free. From here I drive to the Captain Cook monument and lookout which sits above the national park on the northern coast. Cook was the first European known to have sighted the island inand the lookout marks the small section where he landed and explored. Set at the top of a cliff, it offers one of the best views over the ocean. After taking in the view I drive around the north coast of the island, stopping intermittently to wander down steep hills to the water.
Tucked away in town, down a tunnel formed of shrubs and trees, sits the Golden Orb cafe and bookstore. The deck outside is encased by trees and is ideal on a sunny day. Mobile reception is also variable. From here, it seems fitting to end the afternoon with a quick dip in Emily Bay, where the giant turtle eludes me once again.
Until 30 JuneAustralian travellers will still require a passport to travel to Norfolk Island. After that no passport will be required, but flights will continue to depart from and arrive at international terminals, given quarantine requirements and the fact travellers are able to buy duty- and tax-free goods on the island.
Flights to and from the island depart from Australia four days of the week only. Norfolk Island holidays. Norfolk Island — a tiny 8km by 5km island located between Australia and New Zealand in the middle of the South Pacific is full of history and natural beauty. Melissa Davey. Mon 13 Jul . Topics Norfolk Island holidays Australia holidays Australasia holidays features. Reuse this content.Loner looking for somebody to spend Norfolk Island with
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48 hours on Norfolk Island: what to do, where to go