The island was found by Captain Cook on his epic voyage in 1774 and he even beached the Endeavour here for repairs though the location is not quite certain.
It was decided to found a penal colony here because it was thought that the lovely tall and straight Norfolk Pine would make good wood for masts. It didn't.
There was also a thought that the local flax would be useful for sails. It wasn't.
There were free settlers, marine guards and convicts for labour in 1788 when it was established but the first penal colony was abandoned in1814 when the diffuculties of servicing the island were deemed too much.
A second one was established just 11 years later with more permanency, lasting around 30 years before it too was abandoned though a few remained to hand it over to the descendants of the Bounty Mutineers who had settled on Pitcairn Island but wanted a new place to put down their roots.
Thus it came to pass that the island was handed over to them and today's settlement commenced. It wasn't all smooth sailing. Some were so disenchanted they returned to Pitcairn but enough remained and slowly the island evolved.
"The ship's unloading. You must go down and have a look." There is an air of excitement when the supply ship bringing everything from trucks to trinkets arrives on the horizon. It's all hands to the pumps, so to speak, or, more accurately, to the crane on the wharf.
Picture one shows a close up of the crane at work removing the cargo from one of the lighters.
In case you weren't aware, a lighter is an unpowered craft used for shifting loads from one place to another. Each one of these has to have a launch towing it.
The tall crane is brought in to be used when the ship is unloading. At other times there is a stationary crane using manual methods that is put into service. It's the one with the angled arm dangling over the water.
When we went on our fishing trip it pulled our boat with all of us aboard out of the water (pic 4).
As for the ship (pic 2), 700 tonnes of cargo were moved in a day and a half.
Personally speaking, I didn't find it all that exciting, perhaps because I used to be a fitter and turner and cranes were a part of my daily life as we used to construct them, but everyone else seemed to find it great viewing.
The boats may be unloading at Cascade Bay (shown here), or round at Kingston; it's all dependent upon the direction of the wind and swell.
The New Gaol was built between 1836 and1847 with the aim of reform by isolation. It contained a central pentagonal building of 84 cells - each was 6ft long, 5ft wide, almost 11ft high. They were occupied by up to 3 prisoners. As well as 12 solitary confinement cells there were two 'dumb cells' which were under ground and prevented the transmission of any light or sound thus sending the inmates insane.
When viewed from Flagstaff Hill the layout of the prison can be seen more clearly.
The sparkling crystal clear waters of Emily Bay are the safest for swimming on the Island. The sandy beach is protected from the open ocean by a reef just off Lone Pine headland. The beach is popular with families with youngsters and ideal for snorkelling.
The bay, fringed by Norfolk Pines can be found at the end of the road east from Kingston.
When Captain James Cook landed on this Island in 1774 this is the only part of the island he explored. A monument has been erected here. It can be approached by road via Duncombe Bay Road or on foot following the Bridle Track along the coastline. Picnic tables, barbecues and toilet facilities have been provided for visitors.
The people of Norfolk Island are multi-talented - tour guides by day and actors, musicians and cooks by night. There is quite a lot to get involved in during the evening - Bounty re-enactment, Sound and light history, enjoy the local food at a fish fry or attend the 'Night as a Convict' and dress up in convict gear. You might even win 'Miss Rolling Pin' for the week
Kingston is the township founded on Norfolk by the First Settlers and named after Lt. Philip Gidley King. It is built on the only flat, sea-level land available on Norfolk. Today Kingston is the administration centre of Norfolk while the commercial centre is at Burnt Pine in the centre of the island.
Restoration started in the Kingston area in the early 1970's. Many of the beautiful Georgian buildings have been faithfully restored because the original plans still existed. The buildings adapted by the Pitcairn Island settlers have been left untouched eg All Saints Church in the old Commissariat building.
Kingston is one of only two places on the island where ships can unload cargo. All cargo is loaded onto lighters to be towed ashore by motor powered boats
Norfolk Island's cemetery is one of the most beautiful on earth.
The first cemetery on the island was at Emily Bay - in which pieces of early headstones have been found.
The site of the present cemetery was set aside in the early days of the Second Settlement.
The headstones provide detailed evidence of convict revolts and the lifestyle of the island's early inhabitants.
Information from the web site below.
Quality Row is the main street of Kingston which runs from the Administration Centre to the old cemetery. It is the address of eight Georgian houses on the inland side, some of which are restored as museums while others are private residences. Government House stands in a large park on the seaward side. The Stipendary Magistrate's house is now the club house for one of the most attractive golf courses in the world - watch that water trap!
St Barnabas Chapel was the mother church of the Church of England's missionary work in Melanesia. The mission operated between 1867 and 1920. During that time thousands of students from the Pacific islands came to the Mission College to live and study, living apart from the rest of the island's population, and being mostly self-sufficient. In 1920 the Mission was moved to the Solomon Islands.
The chapel was built from stone taken from the ruins of the New Gaol. It was dedicated to Bishop Patteson, the Bishop of Melanesia in 1880. It is a charming chapel and is considered one of the finest old buildings in the South Pacific. The stained glass and especially that in the rose window is beautiful and is reflected in a polished marble floor. The timber work is decorated with pearl shell inlays and the massive beams in the ceiling reflect the craft of the builders - shipbuilders.
The church is used for regular worhip services and when I visited, there was a weekly organ recital by the church organist - a diminutive elderly lady who played Bach with gusto! (The pipe organ was restored in 2002.) I hope she is still doing what she loves.
Due to Norfolk Island's rugged coastline and the lack of a sheltered anchorage, ships anchor about 1km offshore. Cargo at Norfolk Island is unloaded by the ships derricks into lighters which are then towed ashore by motorised launches. Depending on the wind they use either Cascade or Kingston jetty.
Cascade Bay is also a beautiful spot for the photographer.
Not the food, but a Cleudo type of mystery evening. Any travel agent can sign you up for dinner at the home of one of the decendents of the Piticairn settlers - for an evening of mystery. Over dinner you'll learn about some of the original settlers to Norfolk, by acting as them!
There's more than one church on the island but this is the one the tourists aim for and, with good reason.
There's a history attached. The different timbers, the way the tiles used to be shined mirror smooth (until Occupational Health and Safety got involved), the wonderful stained glass (pics 1&5) and organ, both refurbished free of charge by the original companies that built them.
The convict hewn sandstone that surrounds it all and its location beside a sloping lawn that leads to a small dam (pic 4) all add to a worthwhile tourist attraction.
The famous rose window is by William Morris and some other windows are by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, with the altar carved by Solomon Islanders.
It was for a long time the home of the Anglican Melanesian Mission.
Just past the cemetery, you will come to Bloody Bridge. Be sure to get out of your car and contemplate the legend:
This bridge was built by convict labour in the time of Major Anderson; a merciless, one-eyed Scot they called `Potato Joe', for his act of substituting potatoes for bread in the convict's rations.
The bridge today looks quite attractive in its verdant setting - the engineers who designed it had an eye for timeless grace, a refinement doubtless lost on the poor devils who built it. Their every step was impeded by the burden of irons, mostly weighing seven kilograms and some as much as ten kilgrams. Dysentery constantly gnawed at their vitals.
Half-crazed by their suffering, they were goaded ceaselessly by their overseers in the hope of inducing a glance of protest. This offense, called `dumb insolence', earned immediate retribution - the cat o' nine tails.
Suddenly, one of them exploded and drove a pick through the brain of his tormentor.
Knowing that every one of them would be punished horribly if the bleeding corpse were to be discovered, the gang walled the evidence up in the bridge. When the relieving overseer turned up at midday, he asked where his predecessor was. "Oh!", was the reply, "he went for a swim down there in the bay. We think he must have drowned".
Unfortunately for them, through the still-wet mortar between the bluestones, something began to ooze ....... it was the blood of the entombed overseer!
This wild piece of coastline has a small parking area but few frequent it.
There's an art gallery here, open Thursdays only in the afternoon or by appointment. The rugged cliffs are off putting for the majority but it's a very atmospheric place to watch the breakers smash themselves over the black volcanic rock and reflect on the landslides (pic 2) that are slowly claiming the earth back to the sea.