Thursday, June 28, 2007


We know that Eastern Australia and New Zealand are suffering from the extremes of wet, windy and wintry weather. We are grateful that our island, subtropical as it is, enjoys a somewhat equable climate and mild winter on the whole.

But today Norfolk Island is wet, cold and grey, and we have been experiencing strong gusts of wind. Parts of the island are without power.Planes are delayed. The main consolation is that the three inches of rain we have had in the last day or two is overflowing the water tanks, and soaking into the ground to replenish our much depleted water table.
What better time to shut oneself away in the sewing area, and conjure up some winter cheer in fabric?
And what better theme than cherry guavas?

I crazy pieced a background in blues, and then from my scraps out came all the bright reds and greens and even golds. The leaves and berries were fused and sewn to the background in a random riot of colour and texture, and then embellished further with threads and yarns and beads.

The very bright lime leaves in the background were cut from some of the silk paper I made recently.

It was such fun that I decided to do a second one, this time with the brightest of yellow backgrounds. I used a fabric kindly sent to me as a gift by Julia Peake from the Central Coast in Nsw recently.

It is at the top of the page. Doesn't it make you feel just so warm and happy?

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Archie and Celia Bigg invited us to a "Bigg" celebration last night - a special birthday for Archie as it turned out - but Archie warned me not to bring my camera, as he has been caught out before.

Well, we gladly accepted the invitation, but completely ignored the warning, because we knew there would be just too many good things worth recording!!

Like the warm and happy camaraderie - made even better by a roaring fire on a winter's night!

And the great food, that had been cooking in a Tahitian-style ground oven all afternoon. There was a whole sucking pig (from Simon's Water), beef, chicken, sweet tatie, Irish tatie. There was yam cooked in coconut milk, plun (Banana) pilhi, a Pumpkin "poi," and a wonderful array of salads and side dishes. For sweets, there were all sorts of pies, pavs and trifles. Marj's passionfruit pie was to die for!

After we had all eaten, Ken went to the piano, while Archie grabbed his ukelele. And the kids entertained themselves with handstands, hide and seek and leapfrog...good old fashioned fun! Young William slept through it all.

The box of birthday gifts from Roy Nobbs gave us all great entertainment. No doubt most of them came from the Waste Management Centre, and Roy will probably get mosty of them back next birthday!

Happy birthday Archie.

And thank you for a wonderful evening.

As long as there are Norfolkers like you and your family, this island will continue to be the best place in the world!

Friday, June 22, 2007


I am a little late with this posting, but June 10 -the Monday before last - was St Barnabas' Day.

We were reminded of it when our friend "Beef"(John) Buffett, who recently visited the Solomons to assist with the clean-up after the Tsunami, said he had an email from one of the priests in St Barnabas' Cathedral in Honiara, and he had mentioned that they would be celebrating St Barnabas Day.

This is a somewhat significant day to us, because it is the name of the old Melanesian Mission Patteson Memorial Chapel here on Norfolk Island, and it is where Bernie and I worship each Sunday morning.

When the Melanesian Mission was establishing its headquarters here on Norfolk Island in the 1860's, they were granted 1000 acres of land. The site for their main buildings and school was chosen on St Barnabas' Day, and the name stuck. When the Memorial Chapel was being built in the late 1870's,(in memory of the martyred Bishop John Coleridge Patteson) it was intended to change the name, but both scholars and staff had become fond of the old name and the association with Saint Barnabas the Apostle, and so it was retained. And when the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission, which eventually became the Diocese of Melanesia, moved to the Solomons, they also kept the name for their main centre of worship.
St Barnabas' Chapel on Norfolk Island

Saint Barnabas embraced the Christian faith before St Paul, and was responsible in some ways for helping Paul to be accepted into the body of believers after his conversion. He was Paul's companion on his first two missionary journeys. His name means "Son of Encouragement", and so he was, as he travelled and brought encouragement and support to fledgling Christian communities. Church and historic tradition has it that he was eventually martyred for his faith, although the Bible does not tell us of this. The last we hear of him in the Book of Acts is when he had a disagreement with Paul over their young companion John Mark. John Mark had been travelling with the pair on their journeys, but had not "stayed the course." Barnabas was keen to give the young fellow a second chance, but Paul refused, and so they parted company.

The point of all this story is to say that I chose- with a degree of serendipity - St Barnabas' Day to work on this month's pages for the Round Robin Fabric book group I am participating in. This month, I am contributing to the book for Diana Bahler, who lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Diana's theme is "Saints." I decided to feature the two saints who are significant to Norfolk Island. Saint Barnabas, and also Saint Phillip Howard, after whom our local Roman Catholic church is named. Here are the pages for Saint Barnabas. The second one shows his missionary journeys, and the chain symbolises his eventual martyrdom. The lace dates back to the 1930's and was a gift from a friend.
Saint Philip Howard (shown below)was a Duke of Norfolk, and died in the Tower of London for his allegiance to the Church of Rome during the Reformation. Our local Roman Catholic church used to be known as "Sacred Heart" but a few years ago, the late Duke of Norfolk himself, Miles Howard, a descendant of Philip Howard, came to Norfolk Island for the occasion of the name change. I actually met the Duke on two or three occasions, and even sat with him at dinner one evening! Bernie and I have an amusing memory of when we were first introduced to this fine gentleman. He asked Bernie if he was descended from Fletcher Christian, and when Bernie said yes, the Duke reached out his arms, grasped Bernie's shoulders, and said: "Oh, let me touch you! You are famous!"

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Confirmation is often regarded as a sort of rite of passage for a young person, but in fact, it is a very significant time when they confirm for themselves the promises that were made for them on their behalf at baptism. It is a very joyful occasion when someone is welcomed into the church family in this way.

Last night was indeed a very happy celebration, when four of our young people were confirmed in St Barnabas' Chapel by our regular-visiting Bishop, Rob Forsyth. Three of the confirmees were actually great-nephews of Bernies, and was he proud as they made their promises and affirmations loudly and clearly.

The confirmees get some last-minute instructions from Chaplain Rod and Bishop Rob

After the service, we moved over to the Parish Centre for what was called a "pot-luck" supper. Well, our luck was really in, because the food was just amazing, and there was plenty of it. About 60 of us, young and old, really enjoyed a very special church family occasion.

James, Nathan, Stephen and Jessica cut their special cake, with the Chaplain and the Bishop watching on.

Kik and Uncle Tom are obviously enjoying the "wetls" (food)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

36596 DAYS!

I am told that when Thelma Spencer took herself off to bed last night, she called out "Good-bye 99!" And today she celebrates her first century, 36596 very busy, active and productive days.

We had a grand celebration for the very special occasion out at White Oaks today.
Thelma is a remarkable lady. She has been a widow for 47 years. She raised her own son and daughter while caring for a husband who eventually died from his war injuries. Then at the age of 65 she reared her son's children, when he was left alone with them. She was even known as "Mum" to daughter Tina's son, while Tina was known as "Mummy." Family have always been very important to Thelma, and although she lives in Newcastle, still running her son's household, she makes a couple of long visits to Norfolk Island each year to keep tabs on what Tina and her husband John are up to.

Thelma has had an interesting life. She taught music until she was 65, and did beautiful embroidery until very recent years. But she does not dwell in the past, because she is still too busy living life to the full in the present day. She is a familiar sight on the island "bustling round the supermarket at a 100 miles an hour" as someone said today. Her skin is clear and smooth, and she has fewer grey hairs than her son and daughter. She is nimble and agile, and plays a mean game of cards.

It may have been her 100th birthday today, but Thelma was not going to have anyone wait on her. During the morning, she was up on her feet far more often than she was sitting down. No doubt, doing things for herself, and pulling her weight around the place, and serving others has done her no harm.
I must add that Thelma told me she has never had a cup of tea in her whole life!

Here is Thelma with her family, including her brother (just 14 months younger) and his wife, her daughter Tina and John, her son Jim, and her nephew.

Thelma breaks the seal on her personal message from the Queen...the first of many congratulatory messages from V.I.P.'s.

But for today, the Very Important Person was definitely Thelma herself!!

Monday, June 11, 2007


We tend to associate hunter gathering as a stone age activity, essential for physical survival. But when you think about it, it still goes on today, although in our society most of it takes place in our malls and our supermarkets.
Here on Norfolk Island, we are a little closer to our sources of supply. HUnter gathering goes into full force around Bounty, as we seek out some of the traditional ingredients and produce to create a typical Bounty feast. Because Norfolk Island does not import fresh produce (except potatoes and onions) we are very reliant on what is local and seasonal, and so producing these things for ourselves...or having a close relationship with those who do....becomes extremely important!!
Yes, we do have our supermarket, but it is the spirit of sharing what we have grown and gathered that keeps our Norfolk community very special.

For Bounty this year, we enjoyed

*fish caught by John and his mates last weekend

*Hi-Hi (periwinkles) gathered from the rocks for us by our friend Pedro

*pies made from limes from Edie and Jack, and lemons from our trees

*pumpkin grown by Peter

*Pork from Simon's Water

*Ham from Farmer Lou's piggery - ordered last week

*Yams and cassava and plun (bananas) from Charles' traditional garden at the Pitcairn settler's Village

*Oranges from Jo and Glen's tree

*Avocadoes from Barbara and Ken Nobbs' trees (ours are a little late)

That is just the start of it. Here are a few pics of some of the traditional foods we enjoyed!

Pumpkin pilhi and ripe plun pilhi

Traditional coconut and lemon pies, and other delicious goodies for sweets - including Mal's wonderful pav made from fresh farm eggs!

Hi-hi pie, green plun pilhi, cassava, yams, mudda (steamed green banana dumplings), Tahitian fish, baked kumera and loads of other goodies!

Everyone starts filling their plates...there are 35 of us, but there is enough to feed an army!

Bounty indeed!

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Bounty Day is the most important day of the year to Norfolkers. It is the day they celebrate who they are, their heritage and culture, and their pride in their Norfolk Island home. Not even the rain ....very welcome in many ways....could deter them from celebrating in the usual fashion. In fact, the showers abated long enough for the re-enactment of the landing at the pier, the parade through the old Kingston settlement, and the gathering at Government House to all take place. It was not until the time for the picnic that the showers began again, and many families gathered up their baskets, hampers and eskies, and retreated to their homes and other shelter to enjoy their feast.

The day's activities are probably best told in pictures.

Charles drove the old Model A-Ford Truck (Norfolk's first tourist 'bus') for those whose legs would no longer carry them the distance. Some of the kids hitched a ride on the running board.

Meanwhile, a 'Pitcairn' wheelbarrow proves a great means of transport for babies and toddlers!

It was William's very first Bounty Day, and he enjoyed a cuddle from 97 year old 'Girlie" Nobbs.

And one from Auntie Vonnie Grube

And another from his Dad

And he enjoyed being on the front seat of the old Ford with his Mum!

In my next posting, some mouth-watering tales of our picnic-at-home!

Monday, June 04, 2007


Yesterday was the most glorious day. It was hard to believe we were at the start of winter, the air was so warm and balmy.

In the afternoon, we drove out to Captain Cook's Monument (usually just called "Captain Cook" for short) which is about as far as one can drive on this little 5 miles by 3 island. This is a coastal point to the far north of the island, once thought to be the probable site of Cook's landing in 1776 (although many would disagree, as it would have been a stiff climb up the cliffs for his men to gain any sort of foothold to explore the island.) This is a beautiful picnic spot, within the National Park, with glorious views of the sea in both directions and many of the offshore islets.

This year, this area is the venue for our "Art in the Park" exhibition, which is an annual event organised by our very active Community Arts Society.
Entry is easy and free. You just fill in a form, get a stake with a label, and then go and choose your spot...first come, best served. I never cease to be amazed by the fertility of people's imaginations and the variety of ideas that people come up with each year, . Some of them rely on clever word plays, others use recycled materials, sometimes the exhibits are interactive. Young and old take part. The displays stay in place for a fortnight, so they are subject to all the vagaries of the weather. Vandalism is rare on Norfolk, and the community would come down swiftly on anyone who dared to deface someone's creation.
The children from Years1/2 at the school put the finshing touches to their "Hands all Round" exhibit

Helen Sampson has put her knitting skills to good use to create a Rainbow Serpent

Hilary's Pirate, made completely from Pizza dough, is hoping it will not rain too much!

One of the McRitchie's entries, called "Follow Me" has plaster cast feet and hands leading up to some goodies in the branch of the tree. The hand and foot prints, which graduate in size, are from impressions made from William (10 weeks) Sienna (21 months) and Teddy (nearly 4)

Kaye Wood's moth, part of an exhibit showing the lifecycle, perches on the fence and enjoys the magnificent view of the coastline.

Enjoying a cuppa and refreshments

Truly, on this island, creativity abounds...and the wonderful spirit of participation makes it all happen!!

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