Monday, March 16, 2020

A Foundation Day is generally understood to mean a day in which people celebrate the settlement of the place where they live. There was a time when January 26th was known as Foundation Day because that is when Governor Phillip established the First Settlement in Sydney Cove. West Australia has celebrated a Foundation Day since 1834 (now known as “West Australia Day”.). It was introduced as a way of uniting the settlers of the area after it had been created as a colony five years before.

It is not absolutely certain when Norfolk Island first celebrated Foundation Day. But we do know from “The Norfolk Island Gazette” dated 4th March 1938, the people were being encouraged to organise special celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the first settlement in March 1788. It would appear that the day was being promoted from the Administrator’s office, and special notices were issued by Mr E.Stopp, the Official Secretary. The Gazette notice reminded the Norfolk people that while they were accustomed to celebrate June 8th as the beginning of their settlement on Norfolk Island, that “it is fitting that we should remember the date on which Norfolk Island was actually occupied as a British Settlement.”

The actual day, March 6. fell on a Sunday that year. There was a special church service at All Saints’ Church for all denominations. The offertory from this service was to be directed to a fund for the building of a new hospital.
Around that time, the Church of England had just come under the Diocese of Sydney. The Archbishop Dr Moull arranged for a special commemorative service to be held at St Andrews Church in Summer Hill in Sydney, and for his sermon to be broadcast on Radio 2CH, and another special message from the Archbishop to be broadcast on 2BL a little later in the day. Fancy the Norfolk celebration attracting such widespread attention.

The Gazette announced that on Monday 7th, all government offices would be closed, because it would be a Public Holiday. On the Monday a special Sports Day and Gymkhana was planned to take place “at the Recreation Reserve” at Kingston. The arrangements for this were in the hands of Mr H.R. LeClerc.

Events commenced at 1:15p.m. after a picnic lunch. Various stalls were set up by the different churches and other community groups. It was also advertised that there would be a Slippery Dip, a Money Wheel, and a Poultry Wheel. It was announced that there would be music “with an amplifier.”

The Sports Programme reveals some fascinating events. It is funny how cars, which had only been on the island for a few years, had their own events in the Gymkhana! There was a Car Potato Race and a Car Balloon Race, Ladies Nail Driving, an Old Buffers Race, a Cross-cut Saw Championship, and a Tug-of-War on horseback. Other events included a Ladies Sword Race, a Married Ladies Race, Tent Pegging, a Gents Rescue Race, a Honeymoon Race, and Log Chopping Championships. Chaff was provided for the horses, and people were asked to keep their dogs at home, or at least chained to their sulkies. Any entry fee money was to go to the hospital fund after prizes were distributed.

In the evening, a Ball was organised by the Ladies’ Hospital Guild. Believe it or not, the Ball did not commence until 8:45 p.m. Perhaps no one had time to get their chores done and get into their “gladrags” any earlier!  All Returned Soldiers were requested to wear any medals and decorations. Once again, the Ball was intended to raise funds for “A Modern Cottage Hospital.”

The Cottage Hospital did not eventuate and continued in the Bishopscourt premises until the end of the War, when the new Military Hospital was handed over to the Community. Foundation Day remained a Public Holiday, but the strength of the celebrations varied. In the late 70’s, Alice Buffett sought to revive a level of community celebrations on the 6th March, which was also Alice’s birthday. Alice organised a number of events for young and old, and many of today’s adults have happy memories of those activities.

In 1988, the official celebrations for the BiCentenary were on a large scale. At Kingston Pier, there was a colourful re-enactment of the landing, followed by a big community picnic.

 Everyone attempted to wear period costume. A large number of visitors from First Fleeters groups were there to join in the celebrations. That evening there was a big Ball in Rawson Hall.

This set the pattern for the modern day celebrations. The re-enactment now takes place from Emily Bay. The local people are still conscious of the fact that it is more of a celebration of British settlement on the island, but is not connected to the Pitcairners’ story. Nevertheless, they are happy to contribute to what has become an important visitor experience, and to enjoy a “day off’ work while the warm weather still allows for picnics and swimming.
These pictures show the re-enactment/celebrations in the 1988 Bicentenary


Thought I would post again to try and establish a blogging routine.
This morning before Church, I had a call from Bindi. She said she had scones and cream for our morning tea after church, and could I manage a jar of guava jelly?
I told Bindi I thought I had one more jar from last year's batch. Then I decided that was a bit mean. Why not share the 'firstfruits" of 2020 with the congregation? So the first 3 jars have already been consumed and enjoyed!

In the meantime, I thought you may enjoy this little needlework collage I did quite a while back, of our cherry guavas.
Actually this is one of my needlework pieces that I am planning to turn into a card. My friend Annie is helping me with that.

My best guava bush is growing right by our front verandah. It got a good picking yesterday, but there are more ready to pick today.
more guava jelly coming up! Sounds like a good activity to keep me busy while tomorrow's expected cyclone is trying to scare us.

Today is Cyclone Day. We were without power at our place for several hours. So I got busy processing all the juice I had on the gas stove. 13 large and several small jars of yummy guava jelly! A productive morning on a rather miserable day.

Friday, March 13, 2020



Hello, I am back. Later in the post I will tell you what has sent me back to my blog after all these years.
But first, let me show off my first batch of guava (porpay) jelly for the 2020 season.

I have made guava jelly on and off ever since I came to this island nearly 54 years ago....with varying degrees of success. Sometimes it was OK. But sometimes it took so long to cook that it ended up more like black toffee.
The old island cooks told me the best jelly was light and clear.
Two or three years ago my friend Connie gave me some hints for success. Connie made guava jelly for many years to sell.
Ever since learning Connie's secrets, I have been doing well with it. Sometimes it comes to its setting point before I can set out the jars!
I said this was my first batch for this year. However, one day last week I set a pot of guavas on to boil and went off to work on a sewing project. A couple of hours later, a smell of burnt fruit wafted down the hallway. That pot is still sitting out under the poinciana tree and I hope the sun and the rain will eventually do the trick getting rid of the burnt layer of guava pulp.
Today's batch turned out beautifully. It set really quickly, and is clear as glass and a delicate pink colour. These jars will go on sale over at the Pitcairn Settlers' Village.
Now to explain just briefly why I have decided to return to blogging.
This week I have sent a few hours with Rob and Ollie Willis, who are working on an oral history project for the National Library in Canberra. In the lead up, Rob had contacted me by phone from his home in Forbes and said he had become aware of my Devonhouse Recollections blog. I told him about my political blog "Angels and Eagles". He asked if I minded if he recommended to the National Library that these be included in their extensive repository of files.
The long and short of it is that the Library agreed, and thanked Rob very much for this suggestion. Up to this time they have had websites included in their Treasure Trove, but never before have they had blogs. Mine are the first!
It was probably Facebook, with all its instant gratification, that originally distracted me from blogging.
But I am back...I have so much to tell!

Friday, December 01, 2017

Thanksgiving is one of the best days in the Norfolk Island Calender. It comes at a beautiful time of year in the last days of Spring. After 120 years it has never become commercialized.It is a great family day, and Norfolk parents and grandparents are keen to instilling this special Norfolk Island tradition in the young generation.
It is said that the first Thanksgiving Service took place in All Saints Church at Kingston, although some believe it may well have started in the Methodist (Uniting) Church.
One thing is sure, the custom was borrowed from the American whalers and their wives, who were frequent visitors to the island at the time. Because it occurred in the late Spring rather than late Autumn as in the U.S., the Norfolk took on the nature of a Harvest Festival, because  the corn is ripe and ready and vegetables and fruits are at their peak before the dry periods and humidity of the summer months.

While Thanksgiving Day is a relaxed day for most of us, there is a group of modest but faithful group of people for whom it is a culmination of weeks of hard work. They will have planted the corn and other crops so they will be have reached perfection just in time for Thanksgiving. They do not look for acknowledgment, but we are all grateful to see those green corn stalks decorating the church, adding to the atmosphere. The church this year was absolutely filled with reminders of God's rich provision, with an enormous variety of fruits and vegetables - potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, beetroot, oranges, passion fruit, and, of course, the plump corncobs!
The service always follows a traditional pattern, and everyone enjoys singing the familiar hymns about the Harvest and thankfulness. We begin with the Doxology, sung rousingly, while the clergy process into the church. This year we have had a special visitor, Bishop Michael Stead, and his wife Felicity.

We had a number of delightful surprises during the service. The children were invited to the front, and Youthworker Jonno introduced us to our newest member, a froglike creature called Petal, who was learning a lesson about learning to trust God to provide for her needs. We understand Petal will soon be joined by a friend Basil.

Then four local ladies from the Quintal family - Gaye, Joy, Rosalie and Chelsea, came forward and gave us a really lovely rendition of "Oakleigh" written by our very own Gustav Quintal. Well done girls, this was a real highlight.

During the prayers, Albert Buffett delivered The Lords Prayer with a difference, speaking in Norfolk! We hope we can use that on other occasions, it was so special. Then Annette Stolz prayed a special prayer of thanks for our heritage, including the contribution of her own great-grandfather, Isaac Robinson, in helping establish the Thanksgiving tradition on Norfolk Island. The scripture reading was carried out by the visiting American Charge d'Affaires

The message was preached by Bishop Stead. We were reminded of the need to acknowledge the source of the good things we enjoy, and not to take them for granted. The Bishop said that we need to realize that God's gifts and generosity are not restricted to providing for our physical and material needs.

We should mention that the music was provided by a great team . We had Phil McDowell and Peter Randall on the organ, with the Nobbs brothers and Don's Uke band playing along with them. We all felt keenly the fact that Ken was not there this year, but his place was taken -with great skill and enthusiasm- by Ken's great nephew Arki.

At the conclusion of the service, the abundant produce was carried to the table outside, where both locals and visitors happily queued to make purchases.

We know that the other churches also had beautiful Thanksgiving celebrations, and that several people made the effort to attend more than one service. Many folk had family get together soon and picnics at lunchtime. The Church of England had a great potluck lunch out at the Parish Centre, where we enjoyed a real feast and good company.

All the forecasts had threatened rain for the day, but it turned out to be mild and sunny. Here on Norfolk Island we have so much to be thankful for!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Last Saturday afternoon, in a reserve above Headstone, appropriately known as the “Half-Century Reserve”, Ned’s seat was officially unveiled.
 As the cover was removed, celebratory balloons were released out over the sea, and there was much excitement and taking of photos. The gathering included not only friends and local Rotarians, but a contingent of visiting Rotarians including the District Governor and a number of past District Governors. These are people who hold Ned in very high regard for the role he has played in Rotary and in the District to which Norfolk belongs.
The photo below shows Ned “testing out” his seat for comfort.

And this one shows three of the four remaining foundation members who are still active in the local club – Ned, Bill Blucher, and Bernie Christian-Bailey’'.

Ned’s initial experience in Rotary was with the St Ives Club in Sydney. After coming to live on Norfolk Island, he saw the possibilities of forming a local branch. Norfolk Island Rotary held its first meeting on February 16th, 1973, and had its official charter night later in June of that year. The official charter was sponsored jointly by the St Ives Club, and by the St Ives club in Auckland, which was part of the district to which the Norfolk Island Club had been assigned. Ned provided strong guidance to the club in those early years, and went on to fill the role of District Governor in 19 79(???)

After the official ceremony of unveiling Ned’s seat, several of the group moved on to the Leagues Club for some fellowship and refreshments.
In the evening, a wonderful celebration dinner was held at Bounty Lodge.
During the dinner, several people spoke of Ned’s contribution and achievements over his lifetime. Special mention was made of the fact that during WW2, Ned was one of only six people in the whole of the Commonwealth to achieve Officer status before the age of 20. One of the others was the Duke of Edinburgh. There was a visual presentation of snippets and events of Ned’s life, including his schooldays at Grammar, where he excelled in the sporting field.
Ned has been a keen and committed member of the RSL, and Tet Grube spoke of the excellent work Ned has done for Legacy over the years. District Governor Peter Garnett read out a special and personal letter of congratulations from the World President of Rotary International. Later Lindsay Ford presented Ned with not one, but five Paul Harris Awards, one for each ten years of service. He pinned onto Ned’s lapel a badge with three rubies, to complement the five Paul Harris award badges that Ned already deservingly and proudly wears on his jacket.


Thanksgiving is definitely an American tradition that goes back a long way. In the late 1800’s, Norfolk Island was to have a great deal of contact with American people and culture through the visits of American whalers, and their wives, who often stayed on the island for an extended time.
Isaac Robinson was a trader who had settled on the island in the early 1860’s, and married one Hannah Quintal.  Although he was of British stock, he had a fair bit of contact with the American visitors, perhaps because his home was so close to the pier where they came ashore (the present Lions Club.) He eventually held the title of “American Consul”, although no one is sure that this was an official position. Nevertheless he formed strong relationships with the American visitors and settlers, and looked after their interests.
No doubt some of the whalers and their wives, feeling a little homesick, shared stories of their Thanksgiving celebrations back home, and Robinson decided to try the idea here, Back in the states, Thanksgiving coincided with Autumn harvests, but in Norfolk’s milder climate, it was still possible to hold a sort of Harvest Festival in November, which was the island’s late Spring.
The first record of Thanksgiving on Norfolk Island is in an entry in John Buffett’s diary in 1896. A service was held in All Saints. It is said that Robinson actually hoisted an American flag on the occasion, but was taken to task and forced to lower it.

It is probable that Thanksgiving services were also held in the other churches on the island from those early years, because both the Methodists and the Seventh Day Adventist churches were founded under American influences. On Norfolk Island, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the last Wednesday in November, while the United States observes it on the fourth Thursday.
Thanksgiving was to become firmly embedded in the island’s calendar and culture as an important tradition. It would be the one day of the year when most people wanted to go to church, even if they were not regular attenders for the rest of the year.
And so it is to this very day.

Our family always attends the Church of England service at All Saints. The church is transformed with  cornstalks, laden with fully formed cobs, tied alongside each pew. That corn is a story in itself. There is a group of farmers and growers on this island for whom planting the Thanksgiving corn is a most important traditional task, almost a sacred duty. The seed needs to be sown at exactly the right time so that it is ready right on the day, and they rarely get it wrong. However, they have been heard to complain that when there are five Wednesdays in November instead of four, it can throw their timing out.

Along with the corn, there are stalks of sugar cane, magnificent urns of flowers, and the aisles and foyer are filled with piles of fruit, vegetables and baked goods. The setting up is carried out by a loyal band of helpers the day before. It is an activity that is almost as traditional as the Thanksgiving itself. During the afternoon, people arrive with contributions – bunches of bananas, boxes of fruit, sacks of potatoes, the best that Norfolk gardens and farms can produce.
The day itself is very much a family occasion, and many folk really make the effort to get there and enjoy the celebration of our island, its people and its produce. This year, we had a visit from Bishop Rob Forsyth, whose pastoral care we have been enjoying for 15 years. This is his last visit in his official capacity, and he reminds us that he has a great deal to be grateful for, because 7 years ago he had a heart attack while on the island, and believes the prompt and skilled treatment he received here saved his life.

As the Bishop and our Chaplain Rev.David Fell entered the body of the church, they were led by young Liam Christian-Bailey carrying the processional cross. The congregation struck up the Doxology, and everyone was in fine voice. Actually, the order of service and the hymn  remain much the same from year to year, because people seem to like the occasion to remain familiar and traditional.
In his message, Bishop Rob stressed the importance of developing a habit of thankfulness in a world that is sometimes stressful and uncertain. He said that during these difficult times of change on Norfolk Island, we should still be conscious of our blessings and of the goodness of God. The Bishop noted that back in Sydney nowadays, a harvest festival type service would mainly involve donations of tins and packets of groceries. Here we are blessed to be close to the soil and appreciate where God’s provision comes from, and also value the labour of those who have produced it. It is most important, he said, to give thanks for each other.
A special treat during the service was when visiting soprano Lynne Anderson sang “How Great Thou Art” for us, and this was greeted with an enthusiastic applause. Peter Randall played the organ, as did his grandmother Edie Randall for previous generations. In fact, the sense of continuity and tradition was strong. One lady said she could not help thinking about sitting in the same pew with her parents and siblings more than 70 years ago!
At the end of the service, Tom Lloyd led us in the singing of the Pitcairn Anthem.

The Bishop and the Chaplain were led out, and the congregation remained seated while helpers carried the goods and produce to the tables outside, where over the next busy half hour most of it was sold to both visitors and locals. The fat fresh corncobs were especially popular, and the children had fun with the stalks of sugar cane.

The Uniting Church auctions their produce, and our Chaplain decided to take a leaf out of their book when someone donated a beautiful leg of locally-produced lamb! We must find more items for him to auction next year – he did a magnificent job!

What was left was taken to the hospital. The cornstalks were loaded onto the back of the truck, a treat for someone’s cattle, no doubt!

Back in the church, a couple of the menfolk vacuumed the church, and all was restored to normal.Although times have been hard for many on our island, we were overwhelmed by people’s generosity, with their gifts of both produce and cash.
We know the other churches had successful days too. Because the Adventist have their service in the afternoon, many folk took the opportunity of attending two services during the day. Others  had celebratory lunches with friends and family, and made the most of the beautiful weather with picnics and barbecues.
Now that our Food Festival occurs in Thanksgiving week, we are doubly grateful for what our island provides, and for the people who share their skills and talents to bring it to our plates.

Friday, April 10, 2015



In recent years, our community has been very much enhanced by the presence of some Ni-Van (Vanuatan) families living and working among us. Therefore, when Cyclone Pam caused such damage and loss back in those lovely islands recently, many of us here on Norfolk Island felt we wanted to help out.

Some members of the Christian-Bailey family, who count the Vanuatan people among their good friends, decided it would be a good idea to organise a fundraiser. The idea really caught on, and many people in the community expressed interest in participating and helping.

The chosen venue was the front lawn of Bounty Lodge, and what a beautiful setting it turned out to be. Tables and tents were set out among the trees, From 1 p.m. On Sunday afternoon, people began to arrive, both locals and visitors, to be part of a very special experience.

There were raffles. The major one had nine prizes generously donated by local businesses. There was also an Easter Raffle, and a Raffle for a quilt made by Mary C-B.

Throughout the afternoon, entertainment was provided by a number of local entertainers, and even after the planned programme of items was exhausted, there was no shortage of people willing to step up and keep the music going.

There was a special moment when Tet, who acted as the Master of Ceremonies, interviewed Julie Mansen, who was visiting relatives back in their home village near Vila when the Cyclone struck. Julie was able to give us a first hand description of how frightening it was for everyone. Following this, Tet suggested that if sufficient funds were raised, he may be persuaded to sing the song written by Darren Coggan for Tet and Lyn's som Mitch, who died of leutaemai in 1995. In no time at all, $135 was produced and we were treated to something really moving and special.

Lynlee Sanders, local Rotary President, spoke for a while of some of the projects being undertaken by Rotary to enable the people of Vanuatu recover from the Cyclone damage and get back on their feet.

However, the highlight of the afternoon was definitely the wetls (food.) Over both Saturday and Sunday, various "ground ovens" had been put to use cooking succulent pork, beef and chickens, whole fish, and other island foods. Some wonderful salads, vegetable dishes and coconut bread had been produced. The Fish Fryers kept up the supply of fish and plun fritters. And if that was not enough, there was an enormous dish of Tahitian fish (made by John C-B), and a huge pot of delicious curry (cooked by Fasiu Jone).

Our visitors expressed great delight at the opportunity to sample some of our island dishes, and vegetables such as Taro and Cassava. Of special interest were the "tuluk", small parcels of grated cassava with a centre of shredded pork, then wrapped in banana leaf and cooked slowly in the bunia (Ground oven.) They were also able to sample "kava", as well as other drinks from a well-stocked bar. After the main meal, trays of refreshing fruit salad and icecream were brought around by some of the young people.

While the adults relaxed, ate and laughed , and enjoyed the beautiful ambience of the occasion, the mild autumn day and the picturesque setting, the children happily played through the trees, riding biles and scooters, playing hide and seek, and generally enjoying being children living on Norfolk Island!

People were enjoying themselves so much, that it was quite late in the evening before many started heading for home. Everyone had feasted so bounteously that there was not a soul who needed to think about cooking dinner. It had been a magic day.

At this stage, it seems as if we raised almost $7 000. The credit goes not only to those who worked hard and donated goods, but to a very generous Norfolk Island community, always happy to pull together to support those in need. We hope the money can be used to help villages in Vanuatu get back on their feet after suffering such losses.Many people lent a hand for the occasion, but there are some who should have special acknowledgement.

Joanne and Ernie - Contributed Bounty Lodge venue, prepared all the food, donated half a pig

Foodland - Contributed $500 worth of food for Lunch

Jamie Ryves, Scotty Greenwood –Contributed Large quantity of Fish

Dean Fitzpatrick - Contributed Sweet Tatie

James (Speed) Partridge) - Contributed Pigs Head and Other meat

Sam Sheridan – supplied Fish Fry equipment and helped with cooking Fish Fry and meats

Teddy and Farmer Lou’s - Contributed Half a pig.

Fijian Community - Contributed 15 chickens and Cooked Hangi

Vanuatu Community - Contributed Traditional Tuluk

RSL Club - Contributed Alcohol

TET - Master of Ceremonies

John and Margaret Smith - Contributed Vegetables

Pacifica - Contributed Salad mixes

Diddles - Contributed Vegetables

Hotcrust Bakery - Contributed Bread

Mat Bigg - Contributed Vegetables

Charles and Kim C-B - Contributed Kava

David Bigg - Contributed green banana Fritters

Big Al and Pinetrees - Loaned chairs and Tables

Burnt Pine Travel - Contributed Marquees

K.C.I. - Contributed Mobile Refrigerator and Power

Kim Davies - Contributed P.A. System

Norfolk Radio - Contributed Free Radio Advertising

Agnes Hain - Contributed prizes for Children

Raffle Donors

Tropic Bird Art and Craft, Avanti, Hilli Restaurant, Christian Bailey Agencies,

K.C.I. Industries, Dial a Digger, Paradise Resort,

The Valley, Rusty’s Butchery, PawPaw’s, Wild Hi-Hi, Mary Christian-Bailey

The N.I. Vanuatu community, all the unpaid Waitstaff, helpers and local musicians. Many other generous individuals and businesses who have dropped off food, donations and assisted in setting up and clearing up.



Monday, March 16, 2015


Some lovely guests from Wellington, NZ were staying with us this past week. It was lovely to chat with Roger and Margaret Christensen. Roger very kindly wrote this little poetic tribute to Bernie before he left.

Bernie, of Fletcher Christian Apartments

A gentleman, so true, in every way.

One could not wish, in all of Norfolk Island

To find a soul more helpful, day by day.

Bernie, a Fletcher Christian descendant;

Whose temperament, so kind, might hold the key

To why, such drastic action took, his forebear,

In leading famous Bounty Mutiny.

Bernie, a Fletcher Christian reflection,

Would show us true what happened on that day:

It was from concern for crew that Fletcher acted,

To save them all from tyrant Captain Bligh.

Bernie, a Fletcher Christian proponent;

Is rightly proud to call himself that name;

And he is proof the Lord turns curse to blessing,

Thus changes Fletcher's infamy to “FAME”!

This poem is dedicated to Bernie Christian-Bailey

by Roger Douglas Christensen. Written Monday 16/3/15.

In appreciation for your friendship, Christian love, concern and going beyond the call of duty to help out my wife and I.

Bless you indeed.

This is Bernie on the occasion we met with Quentin Bryce(not shown!)
 Conducting a Senior Citizens Bus Tour

At the Fletcher Christian gates

Wednesday, February 18, 2015



On Valentine's Day, Fletcher Christian Apartments reached a significant milestone, celebrating fifty years since the arrival of the first guests on February 14th, 1965.

Back in the early sixties, owner Bernie Christian-Bailey was working for Qantas in Sydney in the Sales department, and often took advantage of the cheap staff fares to travel home to Norfolk Island for the weekend. He realised there was an opportunity to develop an enterprise that would cater for the needs of the modern traveller to the island. At that time, Norfolk had a few guest houses and boarding houses and holiday cottages for long-term rental, many a little dated and tired.
An architect friend in Sydney, Dick Gailey, was commissioned to design a complex of self-catering units, to be built on just over 2 hectares of family land adjacent to the developing commercial district in Burnt Pine. The original plans show a series of blocks of units zig-zagging back down the hillside, with a small complex of boutique shops on the street frontage. Bernie wanted the development to be in an island colonial style, using local materials as far as possible, in order to blend in with environment. It was a pleasant block of land, sloping down to the Cascade Creek, and up the opposite hillside to butt on to Marie Bailey’s property. A fine well was sunk in the valley, and later another very successful bore was sunk on the level area closer to the road.
Early in 1964, work commenced on the first block of four units. Bernie's dad George Bailey took charge of the project, and his team of Norfolkers went about their task with great energy and enthusiasm. People like Charlie Evans and Moray Anderson helped on the job, and it was Moray who skilfully produced the shingles to roof the original building.
Meanwhile, there was landscaping to be undertaken, and it was Bernie's Aunt Edie Randall, who first planted the row of hibiscus along the street frontage, as well as many other trees and shrubs that are still there today.

The first block of units

Karenne Gatehouse recalls that as a young girl, she and her Dad Kik had been out on horseback, and Kik suggested they let their curiosity get the better of them, and call in to see what was going on in Bernie’s new project. Karenne recalls her Dad being somewhat in awe of all the modern streamlined touches and finishes.
Ideas for a name were tossed around, and it was a colleague in Qantas who suggested "Fletcher Christian," a name which would not only reflect Bernie's family heritage, but would give the venture a unique and distinct brand.
Eventually the name appeared on the walls each side of the new cattle stop, this task being carried out by Mr Scotty Neagle, a very artistic gentleman who lived on Norfolk Island for many years.

Scotty Neagle

Bernie had begun to promote the Apartments through Mrs Aileen Dickson, who ran the Norfolk Island Booking Centre in Sydney, one of her assistants being Joe Adams! However, as it turned out, the very first guests were people who had been staying at the Kingfisher Hotel at Anson Bay, and wanted to move closer to town, people with the rather unsurprising name of Smith!
In many ways, it was a courageous venture, and a number of friends and family thought Bernie was taking a big risk. However he knew from experience that Qantas was actively promoting the Norfolk Island market at that time, and that modern travellers were looking for upmarket and self-contained accommodation that offered more convenience, independence and flexibility. Bernie also relied on the fact that even if the "tourist boom" proved short lived, his central location would also be attractive for the traditional visitor coming for a longer term stay.
The prices that were being charged also raised a few eyebrows. The tariff in 1965 was 17 pounds and ten shillings ($35.00)per week!! And you even had to provide your own food!
As it turned out, many of Bernie's guests in those early years were fellow Qantas staff, taking advantage of the cheap staff travel fares, and the discount that Bernie offered.

Guests in the sixties

Grandchildren Sarah(with Digby) and Emily in the same spot

In those early years, there were also a handful of longer-term occupants in the units, including an American lady Mrs Barbara Gandy, and Mrs Sally Kadesh, who eventually restored and lived in no 6 Quality Row.
Until Bernie returned to the island to live in 1967, the units were managed by his cousin Mrs Marie (Leo) McCoy. When he came back here to live, he at first worked for Burns Philp. As the business grew, he took over full-time management of the apartments.
In 1968, the second block of 4 units was built, George Bailey taking charge once again. Then in late 1970, a third block was completed alongside the RSL fence, this time constructed by Borry Evans and his team, using a New Zealand pre-cut kit, but still clad in Norfolk Island pine.
It was around this time that Bernie and Mary were married, and moved into one of the end units that had a connecting door to the new office and transit lounge. It was while they were there that the children began to arrive, and it was necessary to rent elsewhere to accommodate the growing family.

 The Transit Lounge/Office, with the Christian Coat of Arms above the fireplace

In 1974, Bernie and Mary built their house in the grounds. It was designed so that it could easily be turned into two two-bedroom units. As the family grew, it was extended at the rear. For the next 22 years it was to be home for the Christian-Bailey family, including the 5 children Miriam, Charles, John, Peter and Edward. The children remember always being conscious of needing to consider "the guests" if they were being noisy and boisterous. But there were advantages, because it meant that Mum and Dad were always close to home. Great friendships were formed with some of the guests who came to stay regularly.
When the swimming pool was built around 1988, it added a great new dimension to a holiday at Fletcher Christian. Sadly, around the same time, the two old pines at the entrance, which were something of an iconic landmark, had to be removed.
For many years, a very picturesque flock of white fantail pigeons were a feature of the grounds and garden at Fletcher Christian.

 Bernie, Mary, Miriam and Charles 1973

Later there were some peacocks who were much admired as they strutted around, but were not really appreciated for their noisy calling at night during the breeding season, or when they set off down the street early in the morning to see their reflections in the shop windows, leaving their rather messy calling cards.
There have been incidents over the years, like the times when guests tried to turn on taps for washing up when there was a power failure and the pumps weren’t working. They would forget to turn them off, and the units would flood. One of our funniest recollections is of the lady who asked about the green residue that formed in the basin and shower. We explained this was caused by minerals in the well water that flowed through the copper hot water pipes reacting with soap (a common problem on Norfolk.) So she deliberately tested it out on her peroxide blonde hair!
In the days when palm seed fetched a premium price, Bernie and Mary established a large palm plantation on the land behind the units. Of course, the bottom dropped out of that market, and four years ago they applied to the Toon Buffett Trust for a grant to establish native vegetation in the area. Son Peter, who looks after the grounds, was employed on this project, and the new plantings are doing really well.
It is wonderful to look back through the registers and visitor's books and see the names of the thousands who have stayed at Fletcher Christian over the years. They have included a number of well-known figures looking for some quiet privacy and rest. There have been some real characters too. Mostly our guests have appreciated the good Norfolk hospitality and personal service, as well as the very convenient location.

 Another view of the early years. Remember Cec’s hire cars?

Running holiday apartments is a bit like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You never have a break from upgrading, replacing, renovating, and meeting the everchanging expectations of tourists and grading systems. International phone calls and the internet have brought enormous changes, and it is a far cry from the early days when Mervyn Buffett delivered cables on his motorbike, or bookings arrived by letter, requiring the time consuming process of a formal written reply.
So many people have worked for us over the years, in the office, the housekeeping and the grounds.  There are also many of the island's tradesman who have shown enormous loyalty and service in helping keep the maintenance up to scratch, and have been willing to come at very short notice to attend to things like plumbing and electrical problems. There are too many to name, and many have passed on. But if you are one of them, thank you for your part in making Fletcher Christian a great place to stay!

 Bernie relaxes by the newly refurbished pool.

In 1996, Bernie decided to "retire" from active management, and he and Mary moved to the family home at "Devon" up the road. Part of their former house became a Manager's flat, while the rest became a new tourist unit. It is hard to believe that was nearly 19 years ago, because Bernie is still very much involved. Not a day goes by that he does not call at least once, often several times, to check on things, chat with staff or guests, and generally make sure that everything is running smoothly.
As daughter Miriam says, Fletcher Christian" is still Bernie's "baby". He really has been in it for the long haul. His faith and investment in Norfolk Island, made all those years ago, is still very important to him. There have been many hurdles and difficulties, especially in recent times, but it has been extremely satisfying and rewarding to be part of the visitor experience on Norfolk Island, and help promote Norfolk Island as a wonderful destination.

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