Work and Play on Norfolk Island – Week 1

Overlooking the cemetery (far left) Golf Club House (formerly Stipendiary Magistrate’s house, centre) and golf course from the Queen Elizabeth Lookout

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10 June 2019

We had only a short time to organise this trip – my son Steve had the opportunity to travel to Norfolk Island to do some research, so I tagged along! Last night we travelled to Sydney for an overnight stay as we had an early start this morning to the International Terminal for  our flight.  Comfortable 2.5 hours in the air and a smooth landing at about 1pm (Norfolk Island time), we were then collected and delivered to our accommodation and our hire car.  Norfolk Island is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard time.

It was Bounty Day, when the locals really celebrate their national day.  During the afternoon we drove to the Heritage Area near Slaughter Bay to see some of the festivities.  I think every Island inhabitant was there, in 17th century dress and having a great time.  Some of the local girls agreed to have their photograph taken in their beautiful dresses, they all live on the island.  There are only three special long weekends on the Island, Bounty Day, Queens Birthday (next Monday) and Foundation Day which celebrates the first British settlement (in March 1788).

 

Read more about Bounty Day here

 

We are staying in a nice cottage at “Whispering Pines” that is very comfortable, with great views across the valley. Lots of Norfolk Pines of course, plenty of birds plus some feral chooks, it is not permitted to feed them!  The Bowling Club is quite close to where we are staying, and was a good choice for a delicious dinner on our first night. Early night after a long day.

 

11 June 2019

This morning we had a bit of a sleep in, then made our way in to town to organise payment for our accommodation and hire car, and our cards for wifi connection.  This is especially important for Steve as he is working with a drone, operated via his mobile phone, so it must work efficiently!  The wifi isn’t as good as we had hoped, and I’m having problems with connection and the slow time – however we are also here for a holiday so are willing to slow down.  We checked out the local supermarket ($15 for a carton of yogurt that I usually pay $5 for), had a coffee and decided to make our way to Mt Pitt, one of the highest points in Norfolk Island (320 metres), one metre lower than the adjoining Mt Bates at 321 metres.

As we drove toward Mt Pitt we came across the lovely old St Barnabas Chapel, a mission church built  as a memorial to Bishop Patterson who was killed by natives in the Solomon Islands in 1871.  The foundation stone was laid in 1875 but not completed until 1880. The chapel was open so we were able to view the beautiful interior including the stained glass widows. In the grounds are some graves of Melanesian people who had lived on the island in the 1800s.

 

 

Read more of St Barnabas Chapel here

We then moved on to our destination of Mt Pitt, a narrow winding road with very little traffic.  You can’t drive up Mt Bates but there is a walking track that connects the two.  The 360 degree view is fantastic and we could point out the spots we have been to, and those we want to visit.  While we were walking along we noticed a tiny native mouse, who was not interested in us as he was busy finding food in the grass, very cute!

 

 

Looking out from Mt Pitt toward Nepean Island (left) and Phillip Island and airport (right)

As we were still having some wifi problems we decided to go back in to town to sort things out and hopefully we have now, although it is still very slow.  Steve needed to catch up with a contact at the airport in relation to times he can’t use the drone, and fortunately it is only between 1pm and 3pm when the planes are due in on certain days.  Just to make sure Steve always phones the airport before sending up the drone in case there is a plane due.  Then it was time to make our way home for a short rest, except Steve had an idea of how he can improve the drone’s use so he spent some time perfecting this!

Then it was time for Steve to catch up with an officer from the Norfolk Island Council to discuss the work he will be doing, so because we were then in the Heritage Area we decided to drive up to the Queen Elizabeth Outlook to get some fantastic views over the ocean to Phillip Island and Nepean Island opposite Slaughter Bay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from Queen Elizabeth Lookout over Slaughter Bay (left) and the Officers’ Bath (at left of image on the right)

The beautiful old buildings (that were in use during the time the second lot of convicts were sent to Norfolk Island in a very brutal time), are now mainly in use as museums, one houses the Norfolk Island Council.  It was very interesting to find mentions of Nathanial Lucas who was sent to Australia as a convict on the first fleet in January 1788.  A short time later (February 1788) Nathanial (a carpenter) was one of 9 male and 6 female convicts who were  sent to Norfolk Island to create a settlement.  Nathaniel married Olivia Gascoigne, one of the female convicts, shortly after they arrived on Norfolk  Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plaque noting the area where Nathanial was granted land (left) and Steve investigating the Officers’ Baths

12 June 2019

Relaxed morning for me while Steve attended a meeting in Kingston with some of the locals.  We also took the opportunity to purchase our tickets for the Fish Fry on Thursday evening, and our tickets to enter the five museums in the Heritage Area, and a tour of the cemetery.

So late morning we set off for a drive back to the Heritage Area, ate our lunch of tasty bread rolls looking out over the pier at Kingston, then headed on to the Bloody Bridge, a historic landmark steeped in myth and mystery and built with convict labour.  Locals say that the bridge was built under the eye of a merciless overseer. Whether it was the hard labour, the heavy irons around their ankles or rebellion against their supervisor, the work gang snapped and murdered their overseer.  According to legend the man’s body was walled up inside the rocks and mortar.  It remains a mystery to this day but it is a feature visitors to the island remember most!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We continued on to the northern part of the island to Cascade Bay and Cascade Pier, the only pier on the island apart from the main one at Kingston.  Similar to Kingston there are huge cranes to lift boats into and out of the water (bottom left), which was crystal clear and a deep blue (bottom right). The bay is surrounded by very steep cliffs (below right), some badly eroded, but the uncovered rocks are interesting in their colours and shapes. We just missed seeing the loading/unloading of a cargo ship but Steve was able to get a photo of it leaving Cascade Pier (below left)

 

 

Our next stop was Cockpit Waterfall, close to Cascade Bay.  It is a quiet and peaceful place and seems to be the home for many of the “feral” chooks and lots of birds. It was getting late and lots of shadows but we took other photos later. Steve was keen to get back to our cottage and try out the drone, which was a great success – he now has to wait a number of hours for the data to become available. Today we bought some local beef steaks and will test out the bar-b-cue for dinner.

13 June 2019

This morning Steve had an appointment to fly the drone over the Governor’s Lodge Hotel so while he was busy working I had the opportunity to walk through some of the shops.  I was able to purchase a new chain for my locket, and to browse through a shop of a local lady who collects all sorts of bits and pieces along the beaches and creates some beautiful jewellery, I was pleased to be able to buy some for gifts.

I had heard that the Olive Cafe had great coffee so I had to try it out.  Coconut bread also seems to be a favourite here, so I ordered a flat white and coconut toast with passion fruit jam. Soon after I arrived at the The Olive I received a text from Steve to say he had finished with the drone and would meet me at The Olive.  When my coconut toast arrived I could not believe it – a layer of banana, passion fruit then loads of cream – I won’t have to eat again today, it was delicious.

 

 

 

Steve’s next appointment was with PJ and Arthur at the Duck Pond (left) to discuss water drainage on the Heritage Area so I tagged  along. There were so many ducks and hens in this special spot, PJ explained that the locals take their older hens when they have finished laying, and they form the community around the Duck Pond and become feral – you are not allowed to feed them!

 

Hens and ducks meeting up with Steve (left) and the boys inspecting one of the drainage sites and trying to avoid the cows (right)

 

We visited four sites to follow the water flow, ending up at the very pretty Emily Bay and Lone Pine (left). There is much to discuss with Council in relation to regulation of the water flow!  Steve has made arrangements with PJ as to the best places to fly the drone over these areas so he will be very busy over the next week and is loving playing with the drone!

 

 

Then we had the opportunity to visit the Research Centre to make enquiries as to the whereabouts of the graves of Mary and Sarah Lucas, the 2 year old twin daughters of Nathaniel and Olivia who died when a tree fell on their house in 1792.  The advice was that the place of their graves is unknown but a memorial stone had been placed by members of the Lucas family at a spot overlooking Emily Bay.  Without too much trouble we found the memorial overlooking the Bay, a beautiful spot!

 

During the afternoon we had time to relax, but having lots of problems with the wifi connection, I finally gave up!  This evening we are booked for the Fish Fry, we arrived at about 4.45pm in time to see the sun set (below).  It is a lovely property overlooking the ocean, and fortunately the meal was served in a large covered area as it had become quite cool.  There must have been at least 100 people there, a couple sitting at our table had been to the Fish Fry on 6 occasions!  We met two nice ladies from Echuca and Bathurst and swapped news about what we had all been doing on the island.

 

The meal was smorgasbord style (above left) with plenty of delicious salads, two Tahitian dishes and of course the battered fish pieces, all delicious. Dessert was coconut pie and cream!

 

We were serenaded by one of the staff who had a great voice (above right) , then entertained by a group of four local girls who are learning Tahitian dances and keeping up the traditions of their forebears from Pitcairn Island and Tahiti (left).  It was a very enjoyable evening and dinner!

 

 

14 June 2019

Steve had another appointment this morning with PJ and Arthur for more discussions on mapping of the island etc, so I had the opportunity of doing a load of washing, then spent time on the blog, I think (hope) we have sorted out the wifi problem. We had a light shower of rain, but it soon cleared up to another sunny and warm day for our tour of the cemetery. There was time for us to visit Hilli Restaurant to book dinner for this evening and to visit Cyclorama next door, an amazing 360 degree painting depicting the story of the Norfolk Island people and their connection with the infamous mutiny of the Bounty and their descendants from the crew of the famous 1789 mutiny and their Tahitian companions – it was quite spectacular, and took two artists two years to complete.  Photographs are not permitted but you can see some of the work here

Next stop was the Cemetery for our 11.30am tour, conducted by a young woman, Maree Evans (below left), who is a 7th generation of the Bounty people, and was very knowledgeable and informative of the island’s history.  She was well aware of the history of the first settlement and the arrival of Nathaniel Lucas and Olivia Gascoigne, and the accident that took the lives of their two year old twin girls. She also spoke in glowing terms of the work that Nathaniel had performed in that new settlement.

 

There are some graves going back to the first settlement, but not too many now.  We listened to so many interesting stories of events over the centuries, especially the brutal stories of the second British settlement when the island was a penal colony – now I want to get hold of some books of those times as they will make exciting reading!  I believe there is a book just on the lives of Nathaniel and Olivia, so I will be chasing that up.

 

On our way home we stopped at Seriously Chocolate for a light lunch and to try out their locally made chocolates. Then to the supermarket to buy a small lamb roast for dinner tomorrow night, tomorrow morning we will be at the Farmers Market for some nice fresh vegetables.  Most vegetables are grown locally (none of your Coles & Woollies perfectly shaped and no spots on fruit and vegetables, they come in all sorts and shapes here which is great).  You need to get to the supermarket early to get the fresh vegetables as when they are all sold that’s it, so it will be very interesting to see the produce tomorrow.  We have already purchased some honey, bananas and a slice of cake from one of the roadside stalls (honesty boxes for cash).

This afternoon Steve put the drone through some more tests while I worked on my blog, it is great to have the wifi working semi-efficiently!

Oops! I spoke too soon, wifi reception is abysmal and it is looking very much as if I will need to complete the blog when I am home, taking lots of notes!

 

 

Tonight we had a delicious dinner at Hilli Restaurant that was fabulous, Steve had chicken, I had pork belly and could not resist dessert!

 

 

 

 

15 June 2019

This morning the Saturday produce markets open at 7.30am so we made an early start to have a look.  There weren’t as many vendors as we expected, but it was nice to buy some freshly picked fruit and vegetables, all grown on the Island.  Steve found a bottle of hot chilli sauce from the table of The Pickled Lady and she assured us we should have no problem getting it back to Australia!  Steve has been busy noting all the produce that is being sold, and where it is grown, as part of his research.

Some of the produce stalls and the fresh sourdough bread stall (left)

 

Opposite the park we found an interesting organic shop Prinke where we were able to buy some metal straws and some nice muesli for breakfast.  There were some other items that caught our eye so we will return for another look before we go home.

 

 

 

The Golden Orb Cafe was our choice for brunch, entered via a lovely path with lots of palm trees and poinsettia (and webs of Golden Orb spiders everywhere) to get to the cafe where I enjoyed some muesli with fruit and yogurt, and Steve chose the breakfast burger, all very delicious.  There were some books in the cafe about life on the Island which made interesting reading while we were having brunch.

 

 

 

 

 

Steve then decided it was a perfect day to start his “sand collection” from each beach on the island (there aren’t many beaches, mainly cliffs!).  We started at Slaughter Bay (below left), then Emily Bay (below right) and finally Cemetery Beach (adjacent to the Cemetery) (bottom left and right) where there were some interesting rocks, many of the beaches had coral reefs years ago.

 

 

 

After a good collection of sands (in clip lock bags) we drove to the north west of the Island to the beautiful Anson Bay, surrounded by very steep cliffs.  It is a zig zag walk of about 4.5 kms round trip, so I decided to stay on the top of the cliff and enjoy the view while Steve descended, collected his sand, then ascended the cliff – his most difficult collection! Lt Phillip Gidley King named the bay after George Anson, a Member of Parliament and nephew of one of the Royal Navy’s most celebrated officers, Admiral of the Fleet Lord George Anson, former First Lord of the Admiralty.  In 1902 the Anson Bay cable station became a vital link in the newly laid undersea communications cable between Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Canada and Great Britain.  Strategically important in World War 1 and World War 11, the Anson Bay connection was superseded by satellite link in 2003.

 

Just north of Anson Bay is Duncombe Bay where we found the Captain Cook Memorial overlooking this magnificent Bay, again with sheer cliffs overlooking clear azure blue water, and watching the seabirds soaring overhead.  The significant rocks just off the coast are Moo-oo Stone, Green Pool Stone, Cathedral Rock, Elephant Rock and Bird Rock (below right).  There are really only two piers to gain entrance to the Island, the main one at Kingston, the original settlement, and Cascade Pier at Cascade Bay on the north of the Island.  It is difficult to imagine the many hardships faced by the early settlers just in gaining access and bringing supplies on shore.  Below left are the cliffs where the first settlers attempted to land. No sand collections here!

 

 

 

Our final sand collection point was Cresswell Bay which is on the south of the island, just west of the Kingston Pier, and on the way we had to give way to some cows (they have right of way always!).  We noticed with amazement that one of the cows had climbed to the top of a very high mound of soil to find some grass.  We had seen a number of cows that find their way around the very steep hills on the island and it is easy to see the tracks they make and the actual damage they are doing as it is causing much erosion – but don’t argue with the cows about that!

 

Cresswell Bay has a steep access, walking along a nice boardwalk, with the most beautiful small beach at the bottom.  It is quite rocky but Steve was able to get some good samples of sand, and we had the opportunity to watch one of the locals carefully pick his way through the rocks and set off on his standing board for a row (Nepean and Phillip Islands in the background).

 

 

 

On our way home we drove past Headstone Reserve (below left), again a very high point of the Island.  With my fear of heights I stay quite a way back from the edge, but the views out over the ocean and along the coastline are quite spectacular.  Norfolk Island is at the geographical boundary between the Coral Sea to the north and the Tasman Sea to the south.  The winter ocean swells you see when looking from Headstone derive from storms in the Southern Ocean and Southern Tasman Sea.  Unimpeded by any land mass, these swells may have travelled thousands of kilometres before expending their huge energy against Headstone’s 70m high cliffs.

 

We had purchased our small lamb roast from the supermarket during the day, so we enjoyed a delicious roast lamb with fresh vegetables from the markets, for a delicious dinner.

Buildings and ruins near Slaughter Bay, from the 2nd Settlement

Don’t forget to check out Week 2!

 

 

 

 

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