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The evening rises to darken the green fields and the sandstone walls of the proud and lonely Georgian gaol. The ghosts, free now, have nowhere to go but dawn. The crashing waves sound louder at night. A man sits at the bar, with a beer, amid the buzz of night as usual. He has gnarly hands and a knowing eye. The sunset was good. There’ll be fish tomorrow.
It took us a while to getting around to sampling the delights on offer on Norfolk Island, even though it is only a two-hour direct flight from Sydney or Brisbane. That’s probably partly because it is thought of as part of Australia (well, it is technically an English-speaking Australian Territory) and partly because, as a tourist destination, it is not marketed aggressively. It doesn’t need to be – the greatest numbers of visitors to Norfolk arrive following the recommendation from a friend.
Norfolk Island is scenically beautiful and unspoilt with a relaxed pace and a fascinating history. Here you will find a 200-year snapshot of Australia’s history from the early days of penal settlement, but this beguiling sub-tropical island doesn’t feel like Australia. Sitting quietly among the lush, green pastures you’ll find the finest examples of early Georgian architecture in the world and the ghostly remains of Australia’s harshest penal colony.
You’ll hear the sound of the sea crashing onto the dramatic coastline while towards the reef the calm, blue, clear, warm waters offer fantastic swimming, snorkelling, surfing and kayaking. A little further and the waters are renowned for deep-sea fishing and spectacular diving. Add the surreal ambience provided by the locals whose ancestors came from Pitcairn Island, descendants of the mutineers on the HMS Bounty. They even have their own dialect (a mix of Tahitian and old English)…
Here’s an example of a conversation that can happen often on Norfolk:
“I got a hilli.”
“Do fight et. Morla el du.”
A ‘hilli’ is a temporary bout of extreme laziness, which the locals consider a constructive thing. Translation:
“I got a hilli.”
“Don’t fight it, tomorrow will do.”
This may be a learnt way to de-stress but it could also be part of the Polynesian gene pool. In Samoa, for example, they have a thing called musu – a condition where a Samoan, for no apparent reason, shuts down and becomes silent and sullen – and there’s nothing can be done other than to let it pass.
While Norfolk may be the ideal place to “get away from it all” there is plenty to do. Apart from the watersports mentioned above there’s tennis, golf, target shooting, bowls and horse riding. And for retail therapy, it is a shopper’s paradise. Norfolk lies outside Australia’s customs boundaries so there’s no sales tax on imported goods. There are 70 specialty shops on the island that stock shoes, clothes, sporting goods and toys. Visitors even get a discount on liquor! There are also diners, cafes and gourmet restaurants.
On the accommodation side, you have resorts, boutique cottages and quality self-contained options from as little as AUD$50 per person per night.
For more info on Norfolk Island and personal recommendations, just drop us an email.