Wednesday 19 May 2010

Mutiny, Misery and Majesty - Welcome to Norfolk Island

Named after a dead duchess by a slain sea captain and populated by mutineers, sadists and convicts, dainty little Norfolk Island did not get off to a flying start.

Humiliation and servitude
in the Royal Navy or this?
Fletcher Christian's many
descendants now populate
Norfolk Island
While the Christians, Quintals, Evans, Adams and Burkitts still hold positions of influence on Norfolk, and the eclectic community of 2000 dialect-speaking souls hold dear to their colonial heritage, modern marketing gurus are busy reinventing them.

“The World of Norfolk” is the new tagline for the little island which only got its airstrip in WWII when General MacArthur decreed it a strategic location. Once a stopover for DC3s and De Havillands, it’s long been a destination for Grey Nomads, Red Hatters and Blue Rinse Bombers. And it’s this now outdated perception that the Islanders are working so hard to correct.

“’The World of Norfolk’ tells a story of pared back natural simplicity, untarnished by the trimmings of the modern world. Norfolk Island is a microcosm of the planet earth and we are taking the steps to keep it that way,” said Wally Beadman, Chairman, Norfolk Island Tourism at the campaign launch last year.

P&O include Norfolk Island on eight itineraries in the next 12 months, including one visiting the famous Bounty mutiny site of 1789. Enterprising local operators compiled a list of nearly twenty shore excursions covering 4WD safaris, garden tours, golf, history, gourmet, fishing, scuba diving, horse riding and bushwalking.

Local co-ordinator, Duncan Evans, told me nearly 600 passengers signed up for shore excursions from the Pacific Sun in April. Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl will also visit in the next few months.

Pacific Sun unloads passengers by launch in Kingston Harbour

“There are still a few things we need to make smoother,” said Duncan frankly, “like disembarking 2000 passengers by launch in time for their excursions. That’s something we’re in discussions with P&O on.”

Certainly the lack of a tie-up wharf at Kingston inhibits large scale operations for the moment, but P&O have shown confidence in the islanders’ skill in handling so many guests.

"Norfolk Island is such a unique destination, we’re sure its many natural and historical attractions will be a hit with our passengers," Carnival Australia Senior Vice President Jenny Lourey said in an earlier press statement.

If there is one thing you can rely on, it’s the islanders ability to welcome guests, show them an amazing destination and send them on their way richer from the experience. The island even issued a series of P&O commemorative stamps.

Beyond the big ship challenges, Norfolk also attracts small ship visits from niche cruise operators like Cruise West, Hapag-Lloyd, Heritage Expeditions and Zegrahm.

If you can’t wait for a ship, Norfolk Air run regular scheduled services From MEL, SYD, BNE and Newcastle (BEO).

You must try a steak from one of the blue cows with local organic salad and vegies, drink the sparkling water and learn how to say “de baes said orn erth” (The best place of Earth)


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