Ask anyone who has been to Norfolk Island and they will tell you they want to go back.
Norfolk Island is often known in Australia as a convict settlement, a 1980s tax-dodge and a home for Bounty mutineers. But dig a little deeper and you will find a fascinating South Pacific Paradise, jam packed with adventure, gastronomy and incredible views.
It’s the kind of place you have to see to believe.
Norfolk Island is technically Australia, although you will need to take a 2.5 hour flight from the mainland. From 2016, Australians travelling from the mainland to the island no longer required a passport. However, you will still need identification such as a drivers licence.
So what do you do when you get there? Here’s four things that may surprise you.
Norfolk island is a paddock-to-plate heaven. All fruit and vegetables are grown on the island, in season and picked daily for you to enjoy that day. Add to that fresh fish, local beef and boutique products such as coffee, honey and cheese and you can see why so many Australians adore Norfolk.
The islanders really love their pies. They will add anything that is in season to a pie. Try banana, coconut or guava. Trust us, it’s divine.
Norfolk Island has one winery, Two Chimneys, established by Rod And Noelene McAlpine in 2006. Two chimneys has a tasting room and guests can enjoy delicious reds, whites and roses. Our top tip – get a cheese platter as well. It’s a sight to behold.
Head to Sweeties Chocolate Factory for a sweet treat. The shop sells locally made chocolate and imported sweets. They also have an ice-cream counter and loads of specialty gifts.
Book ahead if you want to head to Hilli Restaurant & Cafe. This spectacular restaurant gets rave reviews on TripAdvisor. We’re told the seafood crepes are to die for.
Grab a museum pass and delve into Norfolk Island’s fascinating history.
Norfolk Island was first settled by Polynesian Islanders. In 1774 Captain Cook stopped at the island on his first voyage. In 1788 Norfolk Island became “a convict hell hole” and in 1856 it became the home of the descendants of the Bounty Mutineers.
The island has four main museums: The Pier Store, Sirius museaum, Commissariat Store and No. 10 Quality Row. There’s also a fascinating convict cemetery that offers guided tours every Tuesday and Friday at 11.30am.
Pitcairn Settler’s Village offers tours every Wednesday and Saturday. Ride in Norfolk’s first tour coach, a charming model A Ford. Check out a historical film and visit a blacksmith’s forge. Explore the charming original homestead and WWII army hut.
But history doesn’t just happen in the museums. One of the highest-rated Norfolk Island experiences is the lantern-lit ghost tour. On it you will hear stories that will send shivers down you spine.
If all this history has made you wonder about your own past, you can research your own family tree and convict ancestry at the Research centre in town.
Norfolk Island real is spectacular outdoors. The towering Norfolk Pines actually store water in their trunk. Don’t be afraid to hug them on a hot day – they will actually cool you down.
The island also has a rare green parrot. Grab a camera and a pair of binoculars and see if you can spot them. Or join a bird-watching tour to discover the unique bird life on land, and on the sea.
If you love to hike, Norfolk has plenty to offer. Explore the stunning Cockpit Waterfall at the Cascade, take the walking track to the bottom of Anson Bay or head to the National Parks to hike one of the many walking trails.
Given that it’s an island, there’s plenty to do on the water too. Marvel at the rock formations on a guided sea kayaking tour or go for a swim at Emily bay lagoon, one of the top 10 beaches of the South Pacific.
Don’t forget to get out at night too. Norfolk Island is so far from the mainland that the stargazing is sensational. Look up, the Milky Way is incredible.
Join the locals
Norfolk Island is a pretty small place. It takes very few tourists. You’re bound to see the same faces again and again. So why not join in the fun and act like a local.
Enjoy a fun night at Housie or Bingo every Monday at the Paradise hotel. Chill out in a local Yoga or Tai Chi class or get involved with conservation work with WILDMOB.
Another great tip for Norfolk Island is to make sure that you wave to passing cars it’s called the “Norfolk wave”.