Norfolk Island Travel Guide

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Norfolk island was virtually uninhabited when, in 1774, Captain James Cook fell across it. If you see how small the island is and how big the Ocean around, you understand that a bit of luck was involved, even if you take into account that Cook was a great explorer.

Lying 1500 kilometres due east of Australia's Byron Bay, Norfolk and its two satellite islands, are actually part of a gigantic undersea chain of mountains called The Norfolk Ridge, which stretches for 1770 kilo-metres from New Caledonia to New Zealand - but almost all of it is below the surface of the Ocean.

Captain Cook described the island as 'a Paradise' - a word he did not use to describe any other of his many discoveries. We can agree with him.

Norfolk started its career as an inhabited island as a settlement where convicts worked as slaves and living conditions on this paradise were actually close to those of Hell.

Standing today on Queen Elizabeth's Lookout, gazing out over the peacock's-tail colours of Emily Bay and down at the superbly-preserved Georgian residences of Quality Row, one can scarcely comprehend that this was once a place in which were perpetrated some of the worst depravities in the history of British colonialism. From this vantage point you can gaze down on a pristine (and actually bloody tough) 9 hole golf course. (18 holes different tee's)

The beaches need a mention as well, the cleanest salt water and softest sand imaginable, the surf here is pretty good too, as if the wind is blowing onshore on one side of the island, you just need to go to the othe for a clean offshore tubes. There's one reef break that is the main surf spot, but also beach breaks as well. Anson Bay is particulary awesome, although the rip can be fierce.

Another fascinating aspect of Norfolk's heritage is that this is the home of the descendants of the mutineers of the Bounty. If you pick up Norfolk's slim telephone book, you will find something in the order of 36 families with the surname of Christian or Christian-Bailey, and 31 Buffets, 26 Quintals, 20 Nobbs, 18 Evans, 17 Adams and 8 McCoys. All go back, at least by matrilineal descent, to the mutineers. With so many shared surnames, identification is made easier by the use of nicknames and this is the world's only phone book to use them. Amongst the Christians we have Bodge, Loppy, Smudge, Toofie and Tatie, whilst the Evans boast a Bubby, Diddles, Hunky, Tardy and Pelly!

The main attraction of the island consists of natural beauty: beautiful landscapes and wild seascapes. Almost a third of the island is devoted to reserves and national parks.

If shopping is your thing the island is tax and duty free, so high end items like Italian leather shoes, French lingerie (think Simone Perele, YSL) and perfumes are super cheap. They also have the cheapest lego in the world. The Underworld lingerie store in the middle of Burnt Pine, which is the main road, is great for personal fittings and to find out what size you actually are! 'DD' not 'C' is always good to know.

There's also deep sea kayaking which is new since my last trip there (can't seem to leave the place alone), as well as yoga on the beach before breakfast.

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March 24, 2004 change by giorgio

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