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An Island of Re-Invention, Continued

in December 2012 I wrote . . .

A tiny island in the South Pacific has been re-inventing itself for millions of years. About 3.5 million years ago it was a big volcano. Over the millennia it cooled and was settled by plants and animals. Depending on sea levels it was sometimes one bigger island and sometimes more smaller islands. After the last ice age it became 3 and one began to grow a coral reef. About a thousand years ago it was settled for a time by the Polynesians. A couple of hundred years ago the First Fleet arrived to claim and settle it in the hope of harvesting trees and flax. It was abandoned for a time but later it was again settled as a major penal colony, as was the habit of the English in the early 19th century. Even this only lasted about thirty years but is now a World Heritage site. As it was being closed down another even smaller island asked if they could move there. This was granted and so the Pitcairners moved to Norfolk Island.

The new islanders descended from sailors but had inherited the colonial infrastructure, so most made the transition to a rural farming community. Their culture was unique and even a new language was invented. Things were stable for decades. Along came World War II and it was turned into a major allied military base as a key part of the air route between Australia and New Zealand. Norfolk now had a very serviceable airfield. After the war entrepreneurs began to promote tourism, based on the easier access. Of course tourism itself was limited then but as tourism began to boom in the seventies and eighties Norfolk responded once again. It re-invented itself as a popular destination; basing their economy on satisfying the tourists.

Many just spend a few days there and some seem disappointed that it isn't all excitement like say Queenstown NZ. Few visit the second island that is a National Park. I spent 6 months working there and found so much more. Like many rural communities, they're a bit sceptical about outsiders at first but ultimately welcoming and generous. You know you've made it when you get a proper nickname. I spent most of my free time exploring and photographing it. Norfolk is very photogenic and many islanders consider themselves serious photographers. One interesting aspect was finding things that the locals didn't remember or didn't recognise because they hadn't been out exploring for a long time. The other thing was that the island is only about 36km square, so the incredible geology, cliffs, waves, sea birds, forests, rocks, sunsets, beaches, ruins and blue cows are all only a few minutes' drive away.

Times change and booms bust. What will Norfolk Island re-invent itself as this time?

Now, after three and a half years the answer is . . .

On 1 July 2016 Norfolk Island will be fully in Australia again and a regional council of New South Wales.

It's still worth visiting with a camera.


Article By Jeremy Wood

Tags
Norfolk+Island, Australian+Territory, World+Heritage, National+Park

WordCount: 507
Published: 6/9/2016 9:23:05 PM

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