NORFOLK ISLAND, SOUTH PACIFIC PARADISE

The island is on the Norfolk Ridge which runs from New Zealand to New Caledonia. It lies 500 miles SSE of Noumea, 700 miles NW of Auckland, 900 miles east of Brisbane and 1100 miles NE of Sydney and has a population of just 2000. The climate is sub-tropical. The island measures 8 kms by 5 kms. Being an island, many panoramas involve the rugged coastline or the arcs of pristine sandy beaches or offshore islands such as Phillip and Nepean (bird sanctuaries) or rocky outcrops such as Bird Rock.

Discovered by Capt. James Cook in 1744, he described it as paradise. It was originally used as a penal colony and then settled by the Pitcairn descendants of the Bounty mutineers. The convicts described their own lot as “hell in paradise”.  Approximately one third of the present population has descended from the 194 Pitcairners and their Tahitian wives who arrived on 8 June 1856. Canberra wants to abolish the self-governance that has been in place for over 35 years.  Since 1979 it has had its own parliament and run its own economy.

Norfolk Island’s Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is endemic to Norfolk Island. It grows prolifically over the Island, sometimes reaching a height of 50 meters or more. The trees have   straight vertical trunks and symmetrical branches, even in the face of incessant onshore winds that can contort most other species. Cultivated around the world as an ornamental tree, its wood is used for construction, wood turning and crafts and the seeds are a popular food for the endangered green parrot.

Their majestic symmetry is unforgettable. It is easy to understand why it has been adopted with pride as the symbol on the island’s flag. The Norfolk Island National Park has many walking tracks winding through lush palm and fern forests and stands of Norfolk Island pine.    The flora and fauna are quite unique with over 40 kinds of plants and animals not found anywhere else.   Other endemic species include the Norfolk Island palm, many ferns, a native passionfruit, Devil’s Guts and the Norfolk Island hibiscus (also called “white oak”). Introduced plants are now common on the island.

The pine features in most photographs captured on the island.

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