Norfolk Island Part 1: Summary of my trip

November 9, 2015 | 3 Comments

Before I start scanning all my sketches and writing detail descriptions of my Norfolk Island sketching adventures, I thought I would do a little summary (mainly photos) of this unique place. I didn’t take a lot of photos, but I hope these will give you a taste of how absolutely beautiful the island is.

Norfolk Island is tiny (8km x 5km) and very remote – 2.5 hours flight from Sydney and 1.5 hr flight from Auckland NZ – with a population of 2,000. It is not on any shipping routes – they only get a cargo ship every 5 weeks – so they are amazingly self sufficient. And the history is fascinating…. three periods of western settlements: the first was farming for the first settlement in Sydney, then 30 years of convict settlement and then in 1856 the descendants of the Bounty Mutineers moved here from the Pitcairn Islands. Today 30% of the island’s population are direct descendants from them – lots of people with surnames of Christian and Quintal in particular!

I explored a lot of the island, but I didn’t go everywhere, so missed a few usual ‘must-visit’ locations. The one rule for my trip was not to feel that I must do anything… well except from relaxing and slowing my pace. I ended up spending a lot of my time in the historic Kingston area (shaded yellow on the south of the island) without a desire to drive around seeing everything. You will find out why shortly.

There were so many interesting things about Norfolk Island, so here are a few things that I enjoyed:

The fresh air and views of the ocean from almost every spot on the island
BTW this is the only photo of me in action on location… sketching the gorgeous dramatic northern coastline.

The Norfolk Pine Trees
I have always loved these trees… but my attachment to them has only increased! I am used to them being associated with coastlines (they have been planted along many beach promenades in Australia), but it was lovely to see them everywhere in the farming paddocks. Oh! they are so beautiful and majestic!

The cattle and feral fowl everywhere, including on the roads
Sadly I didn’t any good photos of the beautiful roosters!

The beatuiful colonial buildings of Kingston. 
It is just SO special to be able to visit the historic area over and over again. Often a world heritage site like this (eg. Port Arthur) is made into an expensive tourist attraction that you visit once, but here in Norfolk Island, the historic buildings exist in the same precinct as the swimming beaches and the main pier. So these buildings are accessible 24/7 and part of island life.

The gorgeous Emily Bay (Kingston) and Lone Pine 
Emily Bay is a safe shark free swimming beach – thanks to the reef.

Kingston Pier and associated buildings
I got completely obsessed sketching this area over and over again – there is really something special about the space between these buildings and the constantly changing light.

Slaughter Bay (Kingston)
I never got tired of visiting it morning or afternoon (most days I did both!) for a walk (and sketch). Loved it in whatever weather condition and as the clouds are blown across the sky so quickly, it was constantly changing.

My accommodation
When I wasn’t out and about, I spent a lot of time on my own, in my cottage. I stayed in one of the lovely Jacaranda Park cottages – incredible accommodation which far exceeded my expectations and was a perfect place to stay. I had a lovely relaxing view and spent a lot of time watching the clouds!

Lots of solo time with a only little socialising
I spent a lot of time on my own, however as the island is so small, I ran into the same people over again. But there is one urban sketcher who lives on the island! Bronny moved here a year ago from Adelaide and it was great to spend 3 afternoons/evenings with her at the end of my stay. BTW most of the tourists on the island were retired Australians – this gave it a very relaxed, slow paced feeling even in the ‘popular’ tourist areas. It was rather strange to not be swamped by bus loads of Asian tourists and it was also refreshing to be in a society where people were not addicted to their smart phones (hardly ever saw them in use). Data is very expensive!

What I won’t miss!
Buying fresh milk – $8.60 per litre! Although there are cows on the island, it is too expensive for them to produce their own milk – so it is air frieghted from New Zealand. As a result the locals drink long life milk as a rule, but I can’t put that in my tea. So, once I finished this bottle, I started drinking black tea without milk!

Another thing I will not miss is the bad roads – potholed, patched, rough roads everywhere. There are also no kerbs or street lights (good for seeing stars at night!)

What about tea and cake?
Although devonshire tea is a big feature on the island, I didn’t have one till the last morning. It was a special event which I will tell you about more soon. I only had one other occasion of tea and cake… see I told you this was a break from my usual habits!

More of my Norfolk Island posts

Part 2: Unplugging and having time to think
Part 3: Struggles with a new sketchbook
Part 4: Establishing a rhythm
Part 5: Trying to stick to my quota


  • Liz Steel says:

    Hi Marko! It is my absolute pleasure to share Norfolk Island with you and my other readers. Not many people know much about it and it is certainly not a major tourist destination.
    Yes, it is the 1/2 " 722 dagger… my 'go-to' brush. I took the little one as well but switched back to the 1/2" on day 2. hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

  • Marko E. says:

    Thanks so much, Liz, for sharing your views of Norfolk Island. Being rooted in Europe, I have only the vaguest idea of the remote spots at the far end of the world, and seeing it through your eyes now is a treasurable gift for me. — Is this the 722 1/2" dagger you hold in the last picture? I ordered one together with the 1/4" pocket version after having read your swords and dagger posting and am awaiting the parcel this week 🙂

  • Thank you for the photo gallery of Norfolk…it is beautiful. And you look happy and relaxed in that great final photo of the blog!

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