Back on Norfolk Island

Well, I’m back on Norfolk – a place that I hadn’t expected to return to, at least for many years. This time, I have a different set of expectations and I’m busy with a photo workshop run by Michael Snedic, a Brisbane based photographer.

Last time I was here, I was disappointed. Not by the natural beauty of the island or the friendliness of the people, but by how run down Norfolk was at the time. It was just after the GFC when Norfolk was basically broke, tourist numbers were significantly down, shops were closed and the economy in depression. It’s a bit more vibrant now although the roads are still patches on patches, some shops in the centre of town are closed and the mobile phone system still runs on 25 year old technology. I do see much younger people in the street. On my first visit, I joked that you needed to have a Zimmer Frame in order to be eligible to get through customs here. This had traditionally been a (very) seniors holiday destination.

Since July, the Australian Government has taken over governance of the island. The previous local government has been relegated, in a way, to being more like a city council. Reform is continuing with the introduction of Australian social welfare, business standards and laws. You still fly out of the international terminal but I understand the reason for this is that Air New Zealand operate the flights and they can’t fly from domestic terminals. 

Apart from two British military occupations of the island during the early 1800’s, the original settlers were the families from the mutiny on the Bounty. They had outgrown the tiny Pitcairn Island on which they first settled and were apparently granted occupation of Norfolk Island by Queen Victoria. I see signs protest about the Australian Government  takeover around the town. They seem to claim that the government has illegally taken control  of the island – an independent country as they see it. Their interpretation is that the island was never an Australian Territory – it was actually a territory administered by the Australian Government. I guess that someone will eventually sort this out, but in the meantime, the Australian Government is putting some long needed money into the economy and improving some of the infrastructure.

Our photo workshop began on the afternoon we arrived with some time at the Kingston Historic Area. This was the original convict prison where the worst offenders from Port Arthur, in Tasmania, were sent for cruel punishment and isolation. Much of the infrastructure was destroyed when the prison was closed but enough relics remains to make this a very photogenic spot.


On our first full day, we were very busy. We began by getting up at 3.30 am for a sunrise shoot. Sunrise here is a little after 4.00 am. so we needed to be early. The sky put on a good show for us and we got some good images. (Serious photographers don’t just take photos; they create images).

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We spent the rest of the morning on a half-day introductory tor of the island seeing places that I knew, but enjoying an explanation of their history. We were back into town (Burnt Pine) for lunch at the Olive Cafe.

Late in the afternoon, we drove around the coast to Crystal Pool. This required us to clamber down a steep rock face using some ropes but it got us to the waters edge where the sea and rocks were right up close. I took many shots here and rather liked this first one where I smoothed out the sea with a very long exposure.




I joined other members of the group f/or dinner at the Bowls Club. It was really humming with activity, perhaps because it was also the location where a wake was held in the afternoon for the funeral of a local person. On my previous visit, this and other clubs, were closing by 8.00 pm due to a lack of patronage. Tomorrow, it’s on with more image making.

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