We must be getting acclimatised to the pace of this place as it was after 8.30 when we awoke this morning and nearly 10.00 am before we left to head into town for brunch.
We pottered around a couple of the craft shops that we had not yet visited and spent a lot of time talking to the shop owners about the economy and their trade. Without exception, they told us that the island has been in recession (probably, more a depression) for nearly 5 yeas and things have to change. The challenge, as they see it, is how to become a more integrated part of Australia, yet still retain their culture. The island’s economy is simply not sustainable with its small population and where about a third of the people work for the government.
Norfolk has its own language called Norf’k. It is a mixture of old English and Tahitian and was brought to the island by the Pitcairners. We overheard a group of local men speaking it the other day and with their deep voices, it sounded like a multiple number of the character Jim Stott from the Vicar of Dibley talking together. It has les than 2000 speakers and is one of the world’s last micro languages.
We couldn’t resist passing by the wharf again at Cascades and saw that the supply ship was still unloading. It clearly takes more than one day to get everything ashore and we are told that the next supply ship from New Zealand will take even longer to unload.
We spent a long time at the Cylorama. This is a 360 degree painting (in tremendous detail) that depicts the story of the Pitcairners. It is about 30 metres long and was painted by three artists who are also associated with producing the graphics for the Norfolk Island postage stamps. It is almost photographic in detail. It begins with Bligh and his ship leaving Portsmouth, rounding Cape Horn and then stopping in Tahiti to collect breadfruit plants for transportation to the West Indies. After sailing, Christian Fletcher (1st Mate) led a mutiny and cast Bligh and some loyalists adrift in a small boat. The mutineers sailed to Pitcairn Island. In the meantime, Bligh managed to navigate 6000 km to Timor and eventually returned to England. The population on Pitcairn (only 2km square) became to large for the island to support, so Queen Victoria offered the population the chance to move to Norfolk after the second convict period had ended. This was the start of the free settlement of Norfolk and many people on the island can trace their roots back to the original Pitcairners.
Late in the afternoon, we drove back to a spot on the north coast at Cockpit Creek where there had been an early settlement to support the wharf. It has a pleasant park complete with roaming cattle and feral chooks. It is the site of Norfolk’s only waterfall. WE also spent some time in the north-eastern corner of the island viewing some of the coastal scenery and more rugged cliffs that form the perimeter of the island.
Tonight we went on our first organised activity – a fish fry dinner. A bus collected about 25 people from a number of resorts and we headed to Puppies Point on the east coast. Over a glass, or two of wine, we had a pleasant time watching the sun set from the cliff top. We then headed off to what we were told was to be a fantastic fish fry dinner. The venue turned out to be the hall of the church that we had visited a day or so ago. Dinner consisted of some fried fish pieces and a variety of salads. We all lined up to be served table by table, and then sat down to eat at tables which were set up in the middle of the hall. Rather than being absolutely fantastic, it reminded us of a parish meal in the hall. Quaint, but hardly fantastic!
We think that we have now driven over every road on the island except one, so that is the key part of our agenda for tomorrow.