Sunday, February 19, 2006


Sometimes I just want to tell the whole world just how beautiful Norfolk Island is.

This picture, taken from the peak of Mt Pitt (1000 feet, 300 metres), reminds me of the time way back in July,1966, when I first received my appointment to come and teach here. I came at 5 days' notice.

When I told my parents the news, my father's first reaction was "Oh, you are going to a place where you will be able to see the sun rise and set on the sea!"

From this lovely vantage point, looking at the ocean all around, you can be very aware of your isolation. On the other hand, you can also have a wonderful sense of being "safe at home."

Just a short walk from the top of Mt Pitt is its twin peak, Mt Bates.

This view faces south. The larger island, about 8kms away, is Phillip Island, and was denuded of vegetation in the Convict days when pigs, goats and rabbits were set free there. These animals have long gone, and there has been a process of revegetation in recent years. However, the island still retains its delicate pink colour.

The nearer island is Nepean, about 1 km away. This island was the site of quite an amount of stone quarrying in the days of the Penal settlement.

Neither island is inhabited, although Phillip has a fishermen's hut. Both are sanctuaries for seabirds such as gannets, terns and petrels.

The rather bare area to the right is our airstrip, which was first built during World War 2.

The built up area in the centre is our township and commercial centre, known as Burnt Pine. This is on a plateau area. The small strip of surf you can see just below the smaller island is Kingston, the site of the old penal colony. It is the only part of the island where the land slopes gently down to the shores, and there is a coral reef across the bay. The convict buildings still house the main administration offices of the island, as well as residences for seconded government officials. It is somewhat confusing to newcomers that the older Norfolkers still refer to this area as "town". This, in fact, is where the Pitcairners lived when they first arrived in 1856, occupying the stone convict settlement buildings, which had been left empty when the penal colony was moved to Tasmania. It was only later that they began to move "up country," settling on their grants of land.

Some days, Mt Pitt is shrouded in mist. On those days, you do become aware of your isolation, because you know that with the reduced visibility, the aircraft (from Australia andNew Zealand) may not come in until conditions improve.

1 comment:

Gillian said...

Thankyou, Mary. That was quite lovely, Gillian in Oz (ferg)

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