Norfolk Island is one of Australia’s most isolated territories. It is located around 1,600km north-east of Sydney, around half way between New Caledonia and New Zealand. The island has been in the Commonwealth of Australia since 1914 and though it currently has its own legislative assembly, moves are afoot and the Australian government is keen to bring Norfolk Island into the New South Wales government, giving islanders access to health and welfare payments but removing the island’s autonomy and its almost tax-free status. Many islanders are unhappy about the pressure being put on them by the mainland government and the changes that will come next year and wish to have not less but more say over how their small area is governed and run.
Norfolk Island is one of Australia’s oldest territories as well as one if its most isolated. The island has long suffered financial strains and its tourism industry was badly hit by the global financial crisis. But the reasons why tourism trade here faces many problems are also the reasons why this place is so appealing to the intrepid, independent traveller. The very isolation of this place means that it is difficult to reach, meaning that those who do make it here are treated to a place that is wholly unspoiled by mass tourism. This is not a budget holiday destination by any means, with the average cost of a flight from the Australian mainland around $1000, but if you are lucky enough to come here to this tiny speck, just 8km long by 5km wide, then you may find that the holiday of a lifetime awaits you.
Norfolk Island has a fascinating history. It is linked with early convict settlements and, later, with the descendants of Fletcher Christian and other ‘mutiny on the Bounty’ rebels. The people living here are a friendly bunch, who speak their own language that is sort of a cross between English and Tahitian. They are welcoming to those who come here, even if they do joke that they see only the newly-wed and the nearly dead. Honeymooners and retirees do indeed make up the bulk of current visitors, and while the island is of course perfect for the needs of those looking for romance or for a relaxing trip, more intrepid tourists will also find much to love on this little island.
While tourists could opt for similar activities and experiences on Fiji, Bali or the Australian mainland, there are things that make Norfolk Island different and a bit special. There is something fantastic about being able to swim from sandy and secluded bays, kayak from beach to blissful beach or walk on trails through an expansive national park in utmost calm ad quietude, with hardy another soul in sight. Where else could you be alone in this paradise island setting?