Norfolk Island (Australia)
Other pages in my Norfolk Island series
Norfolk Island (Norfuk: Norfuk Ailen) is a small inhabited island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia.
It and two neighbouring islands form one of Australia's external territories.
The Norfolk Island pine, a symbol of the island pictured in its flag, is an evergreen tree native to the island and is quite popular in Australia, where two related species also grow.
Norfolk Island is located in the South Pacific Ocean, east of the Australian mainland.
Norfolk Island is the main island of the island group the territory encompasses and is located at 29°02'S, 167°57'E.
It has an area of 34.6 km² (13.3 mi²), with no large-scale internal bodies of water but 32 km of coastline.
The island's highest point is Mt Bates (319 m above sea level), located in the northwest quadrant of the island.
The majority of the terrain is suitable for farming and other agricultural uses.
Phillip Island, the second largest island of the territory, is located at 29°07'S, 167°57'E, several kilometres south of the main island.
The coastline of Norfolk Island consists, to varying degrees, of cliff faces.
A downward slope exists towards Sydney Bay and Emily Bay, the site of the original colonial settlement of Kingston.
There are no safe harbour facilities on Norfolk Island, with loading jetties existing at Kingston and Cascade Bay.
All goods not domestically produced are brought in by ship, usually to Cascade Bay.
Emily Bay, protected from the Pacific Ocean by a small coral reef, is the only safe area for recreational swimming, although surfing waves can sometimes be found in Ball Bay.
The climate is subtropical and mild, with little seasonal differentiation.
The island is the eroded remnant of a basaltic volcano active around 2.3 to 3 million years ago, with inland areas now consisting mainly of rolling plains.
It forms the highest point on the Norfolk Ridge, part of the submerged continent Zealandia.
The area surrounding Mt Bates is preserved as the Norfolk Island National Park.
The park, covering around 10% of the land of the island, contains remnants of the forests which originally covered the island, including stands of subtropical rainforest.
The park also includes the two smaller islands to the south of Norfolk Island, Nepean Island and Phillip Island.
The vegetation of Phillip Island was devastated due to the introduction during the penal era of pest animals such as pigs and rabbits, giving it a red-brown colour as viewed from Norfolk; however, pest control and remediation work by park staff has recently brought some improvement to the Phillip Island environment.
The major settlement on the Island is Burnt Pine, located predominantly along Taylor's Road, where the shopping centre, post office, liquor store, telephone exchange and community hall are located.
Settlement also exists over much of the island, consisting largely of widely-separated homesteads.
Government House, the official residence of the Administrator, is located on Quality Row in what was the penal settlement of Kingston.
Other government buildings, including the court, Legislative Assembly and Administration, are also located there.
Kingston's role is largely a ceremonial one, however, with most of the economic impetus coming from Burnt Pine.
Norfolk Island has 174 native plants; 51 of them are endemic.
At least 18 of the endemic species are rare or threatened.
The Norfolk Island Palm (Rhopalostylis baueri) and the Smooth Tree-fern (Cyathea brownii), the tallest tree-fern in the world, are common in the Norfolk Island National Park but rare elsewhere on the island.
15 bird species were originally present; 6 are extinct and three species and two subspecies are highly endangered.
Norfolk island has only one native mammal, Gould's wattled bat (Chalinolobus gouldii), which is very rare or may be extinct.
Before European colonization, most of Norfolk Island was covered with subtropical rain forest, the canopy of which was made of Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island Pine) in exposed areas, and the palm Rhopalostylis baueri and tree ferns Cyathea brownii and C. australia in moister protected areas.
The understory was thick with lianas and ferns covered the forest floor.
Only one small tract (5km²) of rainforest remains, which was declared as the Norfolk Island National Park in 1986.
This forest has been infested with several introduced plants.
The cliffs and steep slopes of Mt. Pitt supported a community of shrubs, herbaceous plants, and climbers.
A few tracts of clifftop and seashore vegetation have been preserved.
The rest of the island has been cleared for pasture and housing.
Grazing and introduced weeds currently threaten the native flora, displacing it in some areas.
In fact, there are more weed species than native species on Norfolk Island.
Norfolk Island was first settled by East Polynesian seafarers either from the Kermadec Islands north of New Zealand or from the North Island of New Zealand.
They arrived in the fourteenth or fifteenth century, and survived for several generations before disappearing.
Their main village site has been excavated at Emily Bay, and they also left behind stone tools, the Polynesian Rat, and banana trees as evidence of their sojourn.
The final fate of these early settlers remains a mystery.
The first European known to have sighted the island was Captain James Cook, in 1774, on his second voyage to the South Pacific on HMS Resolution.
He named it after the Duchess of Norfolk, wife of Edward Howard, 9th Duke of Norfolk (1685-1777).
The Duchess was dead at the time of the island's sighting by Cook, but Cook had set out from England in 1772 and could not have known of her May 1773 death.
James Cook said that, "except for New Zealand, in no other island in the South Sea was wood and mast-timber so ready to hand".
John Call, member of Parliament and the Royal Society, and former chief engineer of the East India Company, stated the advantages of Norfolk Island in a proposal for colonization he put to the Home Office in August 1784:
"This Island has an Advantage not common to New Caledonia, New Holland and New Zealand by not being inhabited, so that no Injury can be done by possessing it to the rest of Mankind.there seems to be nothing wanting but Inhabitants and Cultivation to make it a delicious Residence.
The Climate, Soil, and Sea provide everything that can be expected from them.
The Timber, Shrubs, Vegetables and Fish already found there need no Embellishment to pronounce them excellent samples; but the most invaluable of all is the Flax-plant, which grows more luxuriant than in New Zealand."
In 1786 the British Government included Norfolk Island as an auxiliary settlement, as proposed by John Call, in its plan for colonization of New South Wales.
The flax and ship timber of New Zealand were attractive, but these prospective advantages were balanced by the obvious impossibility of forming a settlement there in the face of undoubted opposition from the native Maori.
There was no native population to oppose a settlement on Norfolk Island, which also possessed those desirable natural resources, but the island was too small of itself to sustain a colony.
Hence the ultimate decision for a dual colonization along the lines proposed by Call.
On 6 December 1786, an order-in-council was issued designating "the Eastern Coast of New South Wales, or some one or other of the Islands adjacent" as the destination for transported convicts, as required by the Transportation Act of 1784 (24 Geo.III, c.56) that authorized the sending of convicted felons to any place appointed by the King in Council.
Norfolk Island was thereby brought officially within the bounds of the projected colony.
First penal settlement
Before the First Fleet sailed to found a convict settlement in New South Wales, Governor Arthur Phillip's final instructions, received less than three weeks before sailing, included the requirement to colonize Norfolk Island to prevent it falling into the hands of France, whose naval leaders were also showing interest in the Pacific.
When the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson in January 1788, Phillip ordered Lieutenant Philip Gidley King to lead a party of fifteen convicts and seven free men to take control of the island and prepare for its commercial development.
They arrived on 6 March 1788.
It was soon found that the flax was difficult to prepare for manufacturing and no one had the necessary skills.
An attempt was made to bring two Maori men to teach the skills of dressing and weaving flax, but this failed when it was discovered that weaving was considered women's work and the two men had little knowledge of it.
The pine timber was found to be not resilient enough for masts and this industry was also abandoned.
More convicts were sent, and the island was seen as a farm, supplying Sydney with grain and vegetables during its early years of near-starvation.
However, crops often failed due to the salty wind, rats, and caterpillars.
The lack of a natural safe harbour hindered communication and the transport of supplies and produce.
Manning Clark observed that "at first the convicts behaved well, but as more arrived from Sydney Cove, they renewed their wicked practices".
These included an attempted overthrow of King in January 1789 by convicts described by Margaret Hazzard as "incorrigible rogues who took his 'goodwill' for weakness".
While some convicts responded well to the opportunities offered to become respectable, most remained "idle and miserable wretches" according to Clark, despite the climate and their isolation from previous haunts of crime.
The settlement grew slowly as more convicts were sent from Sydney.
Many convicts chose to remain as settlers on the expiry of their sentence, and the population grew to over 1000 by 1792.
As early as 1794 Philip Gidley King suggested its closure as a penal settlement as it was too remote and difficult for shipping, and too costly to maintain.
By 1803, the Secretary of State, Lord Hobart, called for the removal of part of the Norfolk Island military establishment, settlers and convicts to Van Diemen's Land, due to its great expense and the difficulties of communication between Norfolk Island and Sydney.
This was achieved more slowly than anticipated, due to reluctance of settlers to uproot themselves from the land they had struggled to tame, and compensation claims for loss of stock.
It was also delayed by King's insistence on its value for providing refreshment to the whalers.
The first group of 159 left in February 1805 and comprised mainly convicts and their families and military personnel, only four settlers departing.
Between November 1807 and September 1808, five groups of 554 people departed.
Only about 200 remained, forming a small settlement until the remnants were removed in 1813.
A small party remained to slaughter stock and destroy all buildings so that there would be no inducement for anyone, especially from another European power, to visit that place.
From 15 February 1814 to 6 June 1825 the island lay abandoned.
Second penal settlement
In 1824 the British government instructed the Governor of New South Wales Thomas Brisbane to occupy Norfolk Island as a place to send "the worst description of convicts".
Its remoteness, seen previously as a disadvantage, was now viewed as an asset for the detention of the "twice-convicted" men, who had committed further crimes since arriving in New South Wales.
Brisbane assured his masters that "the felon who is sent there is forever excluded from all hope of return".
He saw Norfolk Island as "the nec plus ultra of Convict degradation".
The evidence that has passed down through the years points to the creation of a "Hell in Paradise".
A widespread and popular notion of the harshness of penal settlements, including Norfolk Island, has come from the novel For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke, which appears to be based on the writings and recollections of witnesses and from the fictional writings of Price Warung.
Following a convict mutiny in 1834, Father William Ullathorne, Vicar general of Sydney, visited Norfolk Island to comfort the mutineers due for execution.
He found it "the most heartrending scene that I ever witnessed".
Having the duty of informing the prisoners as to who was reprieved and who was to die, he was shocked to record as "a literal fact that each man who heard his reprieve wept bitterly, and that each man who heard of his condemnation to death went down on his knees with dry eyes, and thanked God."
Only a handful of convicts left any written record and their descriptions (as quoted by Hazzard and Hughes) of living and working conditions, food and housing, and, in particular, the punishments given for seemingly trivial offences, are unremittingly horrifying, describing a settlement devoid of all human decency, under the iron rule of the tyrannical autocratic commandants.
The actions of some of the commandants, such as Morisset and particularly Price appear to be excessively harsh.
All but one were military officers, brought up in a system where discipline was inhumanely severe throughout the period of transportation.
In addition, the commandants relied on a large number of military guards, civil overseers, ex-convict constables, and convict informers to provide them with intelligence and carry out their orders.
Of the Commandants, only Alexander Maconochie appeared to reach the conclusion that brutality would breed defiance, as demonstrated by the mutinies of 1826, 1834 and 1846, and he attempted to apply his theories of penal reform, providing incentives as well as punishment.
His methods were criticised as being too lenient and he was replaced, a move that returned the settlement to its harsh rule.
The second penal settlement began to be wound down by the British Government after 1847 and the last convicts were removed to Tasmania in May 1855.
It was abandoned because transportation to Van Diemen's Land had ceased in 1853 and was replaced by penal servitude in the United Kingdom.
Settlement by Pitcairn Islanders
On 8 June 1856, the next settlement began on Norfolk Island.
These were the descendants of Tahitians and the Bounty mutineers, resettled from the Pitcairn Islands, which had become too small for their growing population.
The British government had permitted the transfer of the Pitcairners to Norfolk, which was thus established as a colony separate from New South Wales but under the administration of that colony's governor.
They left Pitcairn Islands on the May 3, 1856 and arrived with 194 persons on June 8.
The Pitcairners occupied many of the buildings remaining from the penal settlements, and gradually established their traditional farming and whaling industries on the island.
Although some families decided to return to Pitcairn in 1858 and 1863, the island's population continued to slowly grow as the island accepted settlers, often arriving with whaling fleets.
This stamp was issued in 1981
to commemorate the first landing
of an aircraft at the island,
Sir Francis Chichester's Gypsy
Moth "Mme Elijah", at Cascade
Bay on March 28, 1931.
After the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, Norfolk Island was placed under the authority of the new Commonwealth government to be administered as an external territory.
During World War II, the island became a key airbase and refueling depot between Australia and New Zealand, and New Zealand and the Solomon Islands.
Since Norfolk Island fell within New Zealand's area of responsibility it was garrisoned by a New Zealand Army unit known as N Force at a large Army camp which had the capacity to house a 1,500 strong force.
N Force relieved a company of the Second Australian Imperial Force.
The island proved too remote to come under attack during the war and N Force left the island in February 1944.
In 1979, Norfolk was granted limited self-government by Australia, under which the island elects a government that runs most of the island's affairs.
As such, residents of Norfolk Island are not represented in the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, making them the only group of residents of an Australian state or territory not represented there.
In 2006, a formal review process took place, in which the Australian Government considered revising this model of government.
The review was completed on December 20, 2006, when it was decided that there would be no changes in the governance of Norfolk Island.
Norfolk Island is the only non-mainland Australian territory to have achieved self-governance.
The Norfolk Island Act, passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1979, is the Act under which the island is governed.
The Australian Government maintains authority on the island through an Administrator, who is appointed by the Governor-General of Australia.
A Legislative Assembly is elected by popular vote for a term of not more than three years, although legislation passed by the Australian Parliament can extend its laws to the territory at will, including the power to override any laws made by the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly.
The Assembly consists of nine seats, with electors casting nine equal votes, of which no more than two can be given to any individual candidate.
It is a method of voting called a "weighted first past the post system".
Four of the members of the Assembly form the Executive Council, which devises policy and acts as an advisory body to the Administrator.
All seats are held by independent candidates.
Norfolk Island has yet to embrace party politics.
In 2007 a branch of the Australian Labour Party was formed on Norfolk Island, with the aim of reforming the system of government.
The island's official capital is Kingston; it is, however, more a centre of government than a sizeable settlement.
The most important local holiday is Bounty Day, celebrated on 8 June, in memory of the arrival of the Pitcairn Islanders in 1856.
Local ordinances and acts apply on the island, where most laws are based on the Australian legal system.
Australian common law applies when not covered by either Australian or Norfolk Island law.
Suffrage is universal at age eighteen.
As a territory of Australia, Norfolk Island does not have diplomatic representation abroad, or within the territory, and is also not a participant in any international organisations, other than sporting organisations.
The flag is three vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and green with a large green Norfolk Island pine tree centred in the slightly wider white band.
The exact status of Norfolk Island is controversial.
Despite the island's status as a self-governing territory of Australia administered by the Attorney-General's Department, some Islanders claim that it was actually granted independence at the time Queen Victoria granted permission to Pitcairn Islanders to re-settle on the island.
These views have been repeatedly rejected by the Australian parliament's joint committee on territories, most recently in 2004, and were also rejected by the High Court of Australia in Berwick Limited v R R Gray Deputy Commissioner of Taxation.
Disagreements over the island's relationship with Australia were put in sharper relief by a 2006 review undertaken by the Australian Government.
Under the more radical of two models proposed in the review, the island's legislative assembly would have been reduced to the status of a local council.
However, in December 2006, citing the "significant disruption" that changes to the governance would impose on the island's economy, the Australian Government ended the review leaving the existing governance arrangements unaltered.
Immigration and citizenship
The island is subject to separate immigration controls from the remainder of the nation.
Australian citizens and residents from other parts of the nation do not have automatic right of residence on the island. Australian citizens must carry either a passport or a Document of Identity to travel to Norfolk Island.
Citizens of all other nations must carry a passport to travel to Norfolk Island even if arriving from other parts of Australia. Holders of Australian visas who travel to Norfolk Island have departed the Australian Migration Zone.
Unless they hold a multiple-entry visa, the visa will have ceased; in which case they will require another visa to re-enter mainland Australia.
Residency on Norfolk Island requires sponsorship by an existing resident of Norfolk Island or a business operating on the island.
Temporary residency may also be granted to skilled workers necessary for the island's services (for example, medical, government and teaching staff).
Non-Australian citizens who are permanent residents of Norfolk Island may apply for Australian citizenship after meeting normal residence requirements and are eligible to take up residence in mainland Australia at any time through the use of a Permanent Resident of Norfolk Island visa.
Children born on Norfolk Island are Australian citizens as specified by Australian nationality law.
Non-Australian citizens who are Australian permanent residents should be aware that during their stay on Norfolk Island they are "outside of Australia" for the purposes of the Migration Act.
This means that not only will they need a still-valid migrant visa or Resident return visa to return from Norfolk Island to the mainland, but also the time spent in Norfolk Island won't be counted for satisfying the residence requirement for obtaining a Resident return visa in the future.
On the other hand, as far as Australian nationality law is concerned, Norfolk Island is a part of Australia, and any time spent by an Australian permanent resident on Norfolk Island apparently would count as time spent in Australia for the purposes of applying for Australian citizenship.
Medicare does not cover Norfolk Island.
All visitors to Norfolk Island, including Australians, are recommended to purchase travel insurance.
Serious medical conditions are not treated on the island; rather, the patient is flown back to mainland Australia.
Air charter transport can cost in the order of $25,000.
Though usually peaceful, Norfolk Island has been the site of two murders in the 21st century
In 2002, Janelle Patton, an Australian living on the island, was murdered.
Two years later, the Deputy Chief Minister of the island, Ivens Buffett, was found shot dead, becoming the first Australian minister to be murdered in office.
Crime incidence is generally low on the island, although recent reports indicate that petty theft and dangerous driving are becoming more prevalent.
Tourism, the primary economic activity, has steadily increased over the years. As Norfolk Island prohibits the importation of fresh fruit and vegetables, most produce is grown locally.
Beef is both produced locally and imported.
The Australian Government controls the exclusive economic zone extending 200 nautical miles (370 km) around Norfolk Island (370 km) and territorial sea claims to three nautical miles (6 km) from the island.
The exclusive economic zone provides the islanders with fish, its only major natural resource.
Norfolk Island has no direct control over any marine areas but has an agreement with the Commonwealth through the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) to fish "recreationally" in a small section of the EEZ known locally as "the Box".
While there is speculation that the zone may include oil and gas deposits this is not proven.
There are no major arable lands or permanent farmlands, though about 25 per cent of the island is a permanent pasture.
There is no irrigated land.
The island uses the Australian dollar as its currency.
Residents of Norfolk Island do not pay Australian federal taxes, creating a tax haven for locals and visitors alike.
Since there is no income tax, the island's legislative assembly raises money through an import duty.
The population of Norfolk Island was estimated in July 2003 to be 1,853, with an annual population growth rate of -0.01%.
In July 2003, 20.2% of the population were 14 years and under, 63.9% were 15 to 64 years and 15.9% were 65 years and over.
Most Islanders are of either European-only or combined European-Tahitian ancestry, being descendants of the Bounty mutineers as well as more recent arrivals from Australia and New Zealand.
About half of the islanders can trace their roots back to Pitcairn Island.
This common heritage has led to a limited number of surnames amongst the Islanders - a limit constraining enough that the island's telephone directory lists people by nickname (such as Cane Toad, Dar Bizziebee, Kik Kik, Lettuce Leaf, Mutty, Oot, Paw Paw, Snoop, Tarzan, and Wiggy).
The majority of Islanders are Protestant Christians.
In 1996, 37.4% identified as Anglican, 14.5% as Uniting Church, 11.5% as Roman Catholic and 3.1% as Seventh-day Adventist.
Literacy is not recorded officially, but it can be assumed to be roughly at a par with Australia's literacy rate, as Islanders attend a school which uses a New South Wales curriculum, before traditionally moving to the mainland for further study.
Islanders speak both English and a creole language known as Norfuk, a blend of 1700s English and Tahitian.
The Norfuk language is decreasing in popularity as more tourists travel to the island and more young people leave for work and study reasons; however, there are efforts to keep it alive via dictionaries and the renaming of some tourist attractions to their Norfuk equivalents.
In April 2005, it was declared a co-official language of the island.
Emigration is growing as many Islanders take advantage of the close ties between Norfolk and Australia and New Zealand.
The sole school on the island provides education to Australian Year 12; therefore, any student seeking to complete tertiary study must travel overseas.
Additionally, the small economy of the island causes many skilled workers to emigrate as well.
Transport and communications
There are no railways, waterways, ports or harbours on the island.
Loading jetties are located at Kingston and Cascade, but ships cannot get close to either of them.
When a supply ship arrives, it is emptied by whaleboats towed by launches, five tonnes at a time.
Which jetty is used depends on the prevailing weather on the day.
The jetty on the leeward side of the island is often used.
If the wind changes significantly during unloading/loading, the ship will move around to the other side.
Visitors often gather to watch the activity when a supply ship arrives.
There is one airport, Norfolk Island Airport.
There are 80 kilometres (50 mi) of roads on the island, "little more than country lanes", but local law gives cows the right of way.
As of 2004, 2532 telephone main lines are in use, a mix of analogue (2500) and digital (32) circuits.
Satellite service is planned.
There is one TV station featuring local programming Norfolk TV, plus transmitters for ABC TV and Southern Cross Television.
The Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is .nf.
While there was no "indigenous" culture on the Island at the time of settlement, the Tahitian influence of the Pitcairn settlers has resulted in some aspects of Polynesian culture being adapted to that of Norfolk, including the hula dance.
Local cuisine also shows influences from the same region.
Islanders traditionally spend a lot of time outdoors, with fishing and other aquatic pursuits being common pastimes, an aspect which has become more noticeable as the island becomes more accessible to tourism.
Most island families have at least one member involved in primary production in some form.
As all the Pitcairn settlers were related to each other, Islanders have historically been informal both to each other and to visitors.
The most noticeable aspect of this is the "Norfolk Wave", with drivers waving to each other (ranging from a wave using the entire arm through to a raised index finger from the steering wheel) as they pass.
Religious observance remains an important part of life for most Islanders, particularly the older generations.
Businesses tend to be closed on Mondays, for example.
One of the island's residents is the novelist Colleen McCullough, whose works include The Thorn Birds and the Masters of Rome series as well as Morgan's Run, set, in large part, on Norfolk Island.
Helen Reddy also moved to the island for a period but was denied a long term entry permit.
For more information about Norfolk Island see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This page was retrieved and condensed from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norfolk_Island) see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, September 2008.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).
This information was correct in September 2008. E. & O.E.
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