Guide to Norfolk Island
Discover why the locals of tiny Norfolk Island call this the best place on Earth.
By Lee Atkinson
World Heritage convict buildings, sublime scenery and a unique culture with an intriguing past combine to make Norfolk Island, roughly halfway between Australia and New Zealand, one of Australia's most fascinating destinations. Settled by descendents of mutineers who speak a mix of Tahitian and 18th century English, it's a friendly place where waving to everyone you pass is mandatory, cows have right of way and everyone knows everyone else. It's the only place in the world where the telephone book lists people under their nicknames, such as Book and Bing, Diddles, Pinky, Spud, Lettuce Leaf and Slugs. No wonder the locals reckon it’s "Da Bass Side Orn Earth" (the best place on Earth).
How to get there
Swim in calm, clear water
Anson Bay is one of the most stunning and secluded beaches on the island. Emily Bay Lagoon is a gloriously curved crescent of golden sand, backed by an expanse of grass and shaded by majestic Norfolk Pines. Protected by a reef, the water here is perfectly clear, has hardly any waves, and is full of coral and colourful fish, which makes it ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
Explore convict ruins
Norfolk Islanders are immensely proud of their history and it's one of the major attractions of the island. "Discovered" by James Cook in 1774, the island was first settled as a convict colony. In 1855, Queen Victoria gave the island to the descendents of one of the most famous naval mutinies in modern history: the mutiny on the Bounty, led by Fletcher Christian. Wander around the beautiful stone buildings of Kingston, built during the convict settlement. Fascinating by day, it really shines at night, with ghost tours and live performances. These include a one-hour Sound and Light Show, which takes you on a bus trip through time, back to the days of the convict settlement, with clever light and sound effects and actors bringing the fascinating past alive.
Play World Heritage golf
Play a round of seriously scenic golf on the world’s only golf course in a World Heritage site. Set within the Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area – the oldest of the 11 convict sites across Australia given World Heritage Status by UNESCO in 2010 – the nine-hole links course offers stunning views from every hole, including the notorious fourth, where the green is tucked into a rock face. Even the clubhouse is historic: built in 1843, in convict times it was the home of the stipendiary magistrate. Bookings are essential.
Hike through picturesque pine
Norfolk Island is small, but much of the island is covered in national park, rolling green hills and towering Norfolk Island pine trees. Head to the protected national park on the northern edge of the island and explore the eight kilometres (4.9 miles) of walking tracks. Stand on top of Mt Pitt for panoramic views of the picturesque surrounds.