Saturday, November 10, 2007


Do you remember those old advertisements for the ferry trip to Manly ? The slogan was "Seven miles from Sydney and a thousand miles from Care!"

Well, Norfolk Island is 1000 miles from Sydney, and although we are pretty laid back and enjoy a wonderful way of life, we do sometimes create our own little rat race here.

But who would want to escape it by travelling 1000 miles back to the bigger rat race in Sydney? That is why some of the locals often choose to hop in a boat, and sail across to our own little offshore Phillip Island, just 7-8 km to the south, about 20-30 minutes journey depending on the seas.

Each year about this time, John and some of his mates spend a few days over there. It is "chill out" time, perhaps a touch of male bonding? Whatever, they have a great time. And the younger boys get to spend a bit of quality time with Dad, too. What better opportunity to pass on those special skills and and knowledge that are a part of their island heritage!!

There are no luxury hotels or apartments there. Just a basic fisherman's hut. But they do not exactly rough it. They are equipped with a generator, frig and stove and water tank, and enough furnishings to make it all pretty comfortable.

"Bunting" feels very relaxed

While they are there, they fish, drink, collect hi-his (periwinkles), drink, gather whalebird eggs, drink, and explore the island, before returning to the hut for a drink. But they do not just drink - they "cook up big", enjoying not just the seafood, but big roast dinners and even sweet pies. There are some pretty good cooks among the boys!

The Fishermen's hut from above

At this time of year, it is open season for the Whalebird eggs. These small speckly eggs, with their fishy taste, are a traditional delicacy for the Norfolk Islanders. You can eat them boiled, but many people freeze the egg mixture to make omelettes throughout the year. Bucketfuls are brought back in the boats to share out among friends and relatives. If the eggs are collected, the birds will lay another, but care is taken to monitor the breeding numbers, so they do not become endangered. The open season only lasts a month.

Looking for whale bird eggs.

The hi-his (periwinkles) are gathered off the rocks, and are just brought to the boil in salty water, It is a fairly laborious process picking out enough for a feed, using a needle or pin. But it is well worth the effort. The flavour reminds me of the "winkles" that we used to gather on the beaches in England. In the part of England that I came from, the coast was subject to strong tidal surges, such as they are experiencing at the present time. Many of the beaches have dividing timber fences, to prevent the loss of too much sand and pebble. The "winkles" would collect on these fences, and we would gather them in our rubber bathing caps. At the popular "holiday" beaches, enterprising traders would gather them, pick them out of the shells, and sell them by the saucerful, with salt and vinegar!

Brandt enjoys his very first Phillip Island escape'

Norfolkers are also very fond of "hi-hi pie." Making these is a real labour of love, because it takes ages to pick out enough from the shells. However, you do make them go further by putting them in a thick white sauce, with a little vinegar added, before enclosing them in the pastry. YUM!!!!

Now we have mobile phones, there is probably less of a feeling of "getting away from it all" for the boys out on Phillip. Nevertheless, We womenfolk cannot help envying them a little as they enjoy their "escape" from the daily routine and "cares" of work and home.
In the next posting, I will show you some more pictures of Phillip Island, and tell you how it came to look so bare and rugged.

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