Tuesday, March 30, 2010


There is little doubt that Friday 26th March was an important day for the people of Norfolk Island. It marked the climax of more than a year of negotiation, preparation and anticipation. We had been given the opportunity to become a port of call for P&O Carnival Cruises.
While some had concerns about the ability of Norfolk Island's infrastructure to cope with a doubling of its population for a day, most people were very positive about the opportunity to showcase Norfolk Island, and give a potential boost to our economy, which, like everywhere else, has felt the strain of the downturn in the last year or two.
Tne best thing about Norfolkers is that they are usually willing to get off their backsides and make things happen, overcoming difficulties and obstacles in their usual resourceful way. One such challenge was the fact that Norfolk Island has no harbour. A floating pontoon was organised to enable the passengers to land. This piece of equipment was manufactured overseas, and was rather costly - but it will be a great investment. When it arrived, the local fellows had to make several modifications to it, here they are testing it out a couple of days before C-day!

Meanwhile shopfronts and streetscapes and roadsides had undergone facelifts all over the island, so Norfolk Island could put on its best face for our visitors. The excitement was really building up.
I had decided to hold a craft stall in the area adjacent to the Supermarket, which was set aside for community markets. We made an early start, as the first passengers were due to come ashore around 8.30 a.m.

Here are my friends Connie and Arthur, who set up their stall beside mine.

I had a range of goodies to sell. In fact, I had been sewing up a storm for a couple of weeks.

There was an initial disappointment, when the ship's tenders were having difficulty coming alongside the landing pontoon. There were some more modifications to the equipment.  And Norfolk's men, who know every nuance of the sea and the swell and the surf offered to go aboard the lighters to guide the ship's drivers to the wharf safely.

It was not until lunchtime that the passengers began to come ashore.

From then on we all had a great time!

Our visitors shopped, took tours, met the locals, sampled local foods, and generally soaked up the  party atmoshere that filled the island that day. Their time had been cut short, but the time for re-boarding was put back to give them a few more hours to see what Norfolk Island has to offer. Many expressed the desire to return for a longer stay. That was what we wanted to hear!
There was so much activity, and we keep hearing stories of impromptu tours in buses and even private cars to enable our visitors to see and do as much as possible in their limited time.

After packing up my stall, Bernie and I headed own to Frederik's Edge, a clifftop and viewing point which overlooks the Cascade wharf, from which the boats were arriving and leaving. Several others were there, and there were many post-mortem discussions about how the day had gone, and how we could make it even better next time.
There was enthusiastic agreement that Norfolkers could be proud of themselves for the effort they had put into making the day a success. There had also been welcome positive feedback from our visitors, who had noted how clean and friendly the island was, and who were grateful for the fact that the welcome had been so warm and genuine.

The second Cruise ship visit will be only ten days after this one, on Easter Monday! We are all excited about making that day even better!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

William is pictured here with 'Auntie Girlie", who turned 100 on Thursday. What a great celebration - or rather, a week of celebrations. There had been a family party, an official party at Government House (the guests including 2 other centenarians), a day of tree planting at Rocky Point (100 Norfolk Pines), and special services and celebrations at Girlie's church.
But the big day, the actual birthday on March 18th, there was a big party at Rawson Hall, to which tyhe whole island was invited.
Now the amazing thing is that Girlie is Norfolk Island's sixth centenarian, and the first, almost 40 years ago, was her own mother, Jemima Robinson!!
There had even been a printing of special T-shirts for the occasion, as seen here being worn by one of Girlie's seven children Steve.
Girlie has many descendants, and amazingly, her latest great-great grandson was born on her 100th birthday!!!
Another recent addition is pictured here with her.
Now there was some great homegrown entertainment, mainly provided by her descendants. The screen behind showed a collection of family photos throughout the afternoon.

And there was a whole range of congratulatory messages, from important people like Prime Ministers and the Queen!

Maye Porter, one of many who had made a special visit back to Norfolk Island for the celebrations, presented a list of "G's" to describe Grandma Girlie.

And grandson Michael pinned on a corsage of flowers.

Greg, who is in his 92nd year, sang Grace for us in his fine voice.

There was an incredible amount to eat and drink, and the younger members of the family did a really good job of handing it around.

Then came the time for the cake - an amazing arrangement of tall cream sponges that said '100'.
But there had to be 100 candles too, and these were placed on a special cake, and when they were lit, caused quite a conflagration!
Nevertheless, Grandma had enough puff to blow them out (perhaps with a little help from eager great-grandchildren.)

Hip-hip-hooray for Girlie!!!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A great collection of people, locals and visitors, gather at Emily Bay on the morning of 6th March. This is Norfolk Island's Foundation Day, which commemorates the day in 1788, when the first white "settlers" arrived, just 6 weeks after the First Settlement in Port Jackson. Those first arrivals - a group of trustworthy convicts and their guards, under the leadership of Lieutenant Gidley King, came ashore at what was the only easily accessed area of the island. Although it is a couple of hundred metres away from the original landing spot, a re-enactment takes place at Emily Bay, which is within the reef.

Among those visitors who gather to watch are many who can trace their family tree back to some of those original arrivals.
Life would have been difficult for them in this, one of the remotest outposts. However, it may well have been easier for them than those back in Port Jackson, who had to deal with food shortages, bushfires, drought, and some unfriendly natives. When they came to Norfolk Island, it was uninhabited, although there was evidence of Polynesian visitations and short-term settlement.
The original intention for these first settlers, apart from securing the island for Britain at a time when the French  were anxious to gain a foothold in the Pacific, was to develop an industry whereby the native flax could be  turned into linen for sails, and perhaps use the tall pines for masts. Neither of these ventures were successful.
However, Norfolk Island was to prove something of a lifeline and a bread basket for the settlement in Sydney. Norfolk Island's fertile soils were able to produce food to feed both colonies for a period.

This year marks the 222nd anniversary of that first settlement.  Those first convicts who came to Norfolk Island were carefully chosen for their skills and good character.  King even chose one of them for his mistress! Many went on to become respectable citizens. It would be in later years of the penal settlement that Norfolk Island became known as the "hell-hole of the Pacific."
Quite a number of groups and individuals get involved in the re-enactment. There are very few Norfolkers who can trace their lineage back to those times - most are connected with the Bounty Mutiny which happened around a similar time in another area of the Pacific! But that does not lessen the enthusiasm and spirit of camaraderie during the re-enactment of the events.
Toasts are drunk to the King, and the Union Jack is hoisted.

Visitors are invited to have photos taken with the actors.
John from Canberra has his picture taken with our son John.
John is visiting Norfolk Island for the 22nd time. Only 200 visits to go John!!

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