Sitting 1000km off Australia’s east coast, Norfolk Island is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
It has a population of just over 1300, and only about 600 tourists are allowed on the island at any one time, which means it is isolated, remote and utterly unique.
As you fly into Norfolk Island you will see an eroded and ancient volcano surrounded by vast blue sea, and rolling green hills covered with thousands of Norfolk Island Pines that look like tiny trees made of Lego.
The landscape is an island paradise with a multilayered history that includes tragic deaths, shipwrecks and two stints as a penal settlement.
The people of Norfolk Island have their own language, which is a blend of ancient Tahitian and English.
Australian currency is still used.
There are many well-informed local guides available on tours, or you can do your own research and make your own way if you prefer.
Norfolk Island is at its best in summer, where fine weather and long days display its natural beauty, history, unique culture and glorious beaches.
You can swim, paddle, kayak, snorkel, surf or sail. Equipment hire is available at most beaches, as well as kayaking and sightseeing tours and glass bottom boat trips.
The Norfolk Island National Park and reserves have incredible views of the restless ocean and wild cliffs. There are walking trails where you can explore forests, cliff tops, bird rookeries and tree fern gullies. You can birdwatch if you prefer, or hike the trails enjoying the unique Norfolk Island flora and fauna.
Norfolk Island has several ocean-fishing charters; most of the restaurants on the island will prepare your catch. Or if you prefer to cook your own, there are barbecues in most public spaces.
Norfolk Island was originally the second penal settlement of Australia, planned as a “place of the extremist punishment short of death”. The British Government used it in the 1800’s as a dumping ground for the worst criminals and is known as the most haunted island on earth.
According to Richard Davies, author of the Ghost Guide to Australia, the island has more ghosts per square km than any other state or territory in Australia. At least 50% of the population claim to have seen or heard a ghost.
The Convict Store, now a museum, is said to be haunted by either the ghost of a soldier or a convict who drowned on the island.
At dusk on Quality Row, where most of the official houses stood, you might catch a glimpse of ethereal soldiers in uniform or ladies in crinolines, or hear the clanking of the chain gangs.
At the Cable Station landing-place headstone, a lone figure has been seen gazing out to sea, but he vanishes when approached.
Georgian Kingston, a world heritage-listed attraction, has well preserved convict-built settlements that give a true insight into the island’s past. Close by, the cemetery is a fascinating place to explore with poignant headstones giving evidence of the early inhabitants’ and convicts lives.
Norfolk Island has an annual Country Music Festival organised by the Norfolk Island Country Music Association (NICMA). Past festivals have included performances from Beccy Cole, James Blundell and Anne Kirkpatrick, as well as many Australian artists.
Flights from Sydney or Brisbane take 2.5 hours and Air New Zealand is the carrier.