Words by Lee Mylne
From the moment you are welcomed to Norfolk Island with the cheery “Watawieh!”, it’s clear that you’re in for a historical treat.
This remote Pacific island has one of the world’s rarest languages, a hybrid of Tahitian and Old English. It was developed in the 18th century by the Bounty mutineers, who arrived from Pitcairn Island in 1856, and is still spoken by their descendants.
Since Captain Cook claimed it for Britain in 1774, Norfolk has had a rich history. The first settlers who arrived between 1788 and 1855 were British convicts and soldiers, and many of the convict buildings still stand. The World Heritage-listed Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area is a must-see, housing such gems as the Kingston cemetery.
Making the most of its natural assets, Norfolk Island has developed a fantastic range of soft adventure tours – including guided snorkelling and diving, kayaking alongside the 200-metre-high cliffs of nearby Phillip Island, glass-bottom boat tours, bushwalking, horse riding, mountain biking, surfing and 4WD tours.
Other diversions include relaxing on uncrowded beaches under the famous pine trees, as well as trying out some of the island’s 35 restaurants. Progressive dinners in private homes provide visitors with an opportunity to meet the locals and sample traditional foods like green banana fritters, served with maple syrup and cream, or salt.
Car hire is the best way to get around, namely mini mokes, but don’t forget the ‘Norfolk wave’ – a gentle lifting of the index finger from the wheel to acknowledge other drivers. Norfolk Islanders will tell you it’s “da bass side orn Earth” (the best place on Earth), and a visit is the only way to find out if they’re right.
SYD-NLK: 2hrs 35mins
BNE-NLK: 2hrs 15mins
(direct with Air New Zealand)
Best time to visit
Norfolk Island is a great all-year destination, with temperatures ranging from 12-28 degrees. Water temperatures reach about 26 degrees at the height of summer in February and are coldest in August at 18 to 20 degrees.