Norfolk Island General Information, Pacific Islands

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About Norfolk Island

General Information About Norfolk Island

First settled by east Polynesian seafarers, Norfolk Island is a small island located in the Pacific Ocean. It is thought the first settlers came from the Kermadec Islands or the North Island of New Zealand.

Norfolk Island lies between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia and is considered to be part of the Commonwealth of Australia. In 1979 it was granted limited self government by Australia. Norfolk Island is the only non-mainland Australian territory.

The first European to the island was Captain James Cook in 1774. He named the island after Mary Howard, Duchess of Norfolk. Norfolk was later colonised by Britain as part of its settlement in Australia. The island was originally used as a convict settlement until civilians began to take up residence on the island in 1856.

The official capital of the island is Kingston and the largest town in Burnt Pine (Burnt Pine is the largest settlement). The population of Norfolk Island is around 2300 but can reach up to 3500 during peak tourist season. Burnt Pine is home to the main shopping centre, post office, liquor store, telephone exchange and community hall.

The evergreen Norfolk pine is the national symbol. It is even featured on the national flag. It is native to the island and is a key export industry for Norfolk.

English is spoken on Norfolk Island, but Islanders will sometimes speak a mix of platt Deutsche, 18th Century English and Tahitian.

The primary industry on Norfolk Island is tourism though farming and fishing are still very important aspects of island life. Agriculture and produce is all produced locally as the island prohibits the importation of fresh fruit and vegetables. Beef is both locally produced and imported. Norfolk's major natural resource is fish.

The government of Norfolk is independent of Australia in most respects except for policing, defence and education. Norfolk Island is a tax free haven of Australia.

Important Dates

Image Source: Norfolk Island Tourism. Looking down on Norfolk Island
Looking down on Norfolk Island
Norfolk Island Tourism
www.theworldofnorfolk.com.au

The following are a list of holidays observed in Norfolk Island:

2013

1 Jan – New Year's Day
26 Jan – Australia Day
6 Mar – Foundation Day
29 Mar – Good Friday
30 Mar – Easter Saturday
1 Apr – Easter Monday
25 Apr – Anzac Day
8 Jun – Anniversary (Bounty) Day
11 Jun – Queen's Birthday
8 Oct – Show Day
28 Nov – Thanksgiving Day
25 Dec – Christmas
28 Dec – Boxing Day

Please note that the dates of public holidays vary from year to year.

Flight Times

Two airlines have regular flights to Norfolk Island – Norfolk Air and Air New Zealand. Flights depart from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Newcastle and Auckland.

Norfolk Island is two and a half hours from Sydney and Newcastle, just over two hours from Brisbane and just under two hours from Auckland.

Time Differences

Fiji is 11.5 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). Norfolk Island does not observe 'daylight savings'.

Shopping

Shops are usually open from 9.00am to 5.00pm but most are closed on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and Sundays. The post office is open from 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday. Currency used on Norfolk Island is the Australian dollar.

Shopping is one of the biggest drawcards for visitors. There is no sales tax on goods and many stores stock a range of international merchandise that cannot easily be found in Australia or New Zealand.

The shopping precinct can be found in Burnt Pine, which has more than 70 stores. Many brand-name and designer products can be found at a much lower cost than buying them on the mainland of Australia. Stores stock the usual duty-free goods as well as a range of clothing, shoes, giftware, collectables, toys and more.

If you bring your passport and airline ticket you will be entitled to larger discounts on items like alcohol.

Another popular shopping spot is the local Sunday markets. The markets are run in the Bicentennial complex and you will find items such as local artwork, handmade crafts and carvings.

Language

English is the common language on Norfolk Island but between themselves, the islanders use their own patois – a mixture of platt Deutsch, 18th century English and Tahitian, bought to the island by the Pitcairners. This language is called Norf'k and is now declared an official language and is taught in schools. The language originated from the Bounty mutineers who hid on Pitcairn Island with their Tahitian wives, their descendants later bought the language to Norfolk.

The local language is not usually written and there are no formal rules regarding spelling. The first Norfolk dictionary was published in 1986.

Culture

While there was no "indigenous" culture on Norfolk Island at the time of settlement, the Tahitian influence of the Pitcairn settlers has resulted in some aspects of Polynesian culture being adapted to that of Norfolk, including the hula dance. Local cuisine also shows influences from the same region.

Islanders traditionally spend a lot of time outdoors, with fishing and other aquatic pursuits being common pastimes, an aspect which has become more noticeable as the island becomes more accessible to tourism. Most island families have at least one member involved in primary production in some form.

Island dancing, music, singing, basket weaving, and arts and crafts also remain very important elements of the Norfolk Island culture. Norfolk Islanders also have their own unique cuisine with tasty local dishes such as Pilhai (baked kumera, banana or pumpkin), Mudda (banana dumplings), and Hihi Pie (made with periwinkles).

Flag

The flag of Norfolk Island was adopted on the 17th January 1980. It uses only two colours, green and white and depicts the Norfolk Island pine.

The flag has tri band geometry – a vertical green band, vertical white band and another vertical green band. The pine tree is situated on the slightly wider white band. The green colouring stands for the rich vegetation that can be found on the island.

Image Source: Norfolk Island Tourism. Houses in Norfolk Island
Houses in Norfolk Island
Norfolk Island Tourism
www.theworldofnorfolk.com.au

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