A WEEKEND GETAWAY: NORFOLK ISLAND
Sometimes we would like to get away from it all and relax for just a weekend or two at a quiet place, where people say ‘Howdy, mate’ and grin when they see us. If you’re looking for such a place, Norfolk Island is just the ticket for you.
It’s not the hustle and bustle that will accompany you on Gold Coast, but if you’re out for a quiet, relaxing time on your next weekend trip, don’t look past Norfolk Island. It is situated just a two-and-a-half hour flight from Sydney, and though the French explorer who found it, Philip La Perouse, called it fit only for ‘angels and eagles’, you will be glad to know that the island hosts 1800 animals of the human variety as well.
It is a place where community spirit is strong, and the mode of payment at fruit and vegetable shops in the local market is not through cash or EFTPOS but through honesty boxes. They’re big on waving, the Norfolk Island folk, so if you find yourself on the receiving end of the wave, just wave back. That is how they roll here.
Though life on the island is calm and peaceful today, it wasn’t always thus. The lives of settlers and convicts that came to the island were woven in hardship. It has a rich convict history, does Norfolk, but its past is also firmly entwined with the mutiny on the ship, HMS Bounty, and a high percentage of people on the island are descendants of the mutineers. Don’t be surprised, then, if you find yourself in the middle of bonfire where tales of terrific courage and bravado are told by those wearing eye patches and wooden legs.
Everything you will have on your trip to Norfolk Island will likely be produced over there. There is a self-imposed import ban on staples, which means all fruit and vegetables are homegrown. Most restaurants in the area also grow their own beef, thereby taking the paddock-to-plate ethos to heart. A breed of cattle called the Norfolk Blue has evolved on the island over the years due to being cut off from the mainland.
What to do on the island
You could do as much or as little as you want. Here are a few ideas on how you can spend your time:
• The island is only 8 kilometers long, so you could go on a drive to explore it at your own time. Driving tours are available, both with guides and without. There are many webs of roads that you can take, with each one leading to breathtaking views of the ocean.
• Spend a lazy day lying on the lawn outside your cabins, and if you’re feeling up for it, participate in the local get together in the evenings. If you time your visit right, you will be able to catch the ‘fish fry’, which is the name they give the fair where you can have freshly caught fish with the locals.
• Participate in the art and culture scene of the island, where a microphone and a stage are set up at every get-together, and poetry and song will fill the air.
• If you’re a wine person, head down to Two Chimneys Winery, where you can enjoy a wine tasting and a delicious, fresh gourmet platter.
• Don’t miss The World of Norfolk Exhibit either, at the Foodland Mall, which has a photographic exhibition sharing visual stories about the history of Norfolk Island.