Thoughts about Norfolk Island

Compiled 10 May 2016


N.I is a nice place to visit as a holiday destination or a Dx-pedition but I wouldn’t really want to live there. Sure, the locals are friendly and it is quiet but if you are looking for a place to retire then you would need to think carefully before moving to N.I permanently. Tourism is a major activity for all islanders and they take the island’s history to heart. They share that history with the visitors in the form of visits to historic places with talented guides to pass on the stories of the past. It is a picturesque place with many appealing scenes, to the extent of some 700 photos later, we have captured only a small part of the island for later review.

The island is only about 8km by 5km so nothing is too far away. Even so, it is not hard to clock up lots of kilometres on the hire car and at $AUS2.05/litre for unleaded petrol, the fuel bill can mount quickly as you trip along all the island’s roads. Mentioning roads, they are more like filled potholes with a bit of bitumen in between. There are very few roads in good condition so you need to be thankful that you are driving a hire car. P.S. Cows have right-of-way on the roads.

The weather is truly changeable on the island, probably due to its small size. It could be dazzling sunshine one hour, raining sometime in the next, sometimes quicker than that. We had a thunderstorm occur on our second night and it was mild for us (used to severe ones here in South East Queensland) but a few locals later commented on how bad it was.

The only fresh vegetables imported are potatoes, onions, garlic and ginger and everything else is grown on the island and seasonal. Only fruit grown on the island is available and while we were there, it was in relatively short supply. Don’t expect the range of fresh fruit and vegetables that you have available at home to be ready for purchase – their range is quite limited.

I am not aware of any five star hotels or restaurants on the island. There are a number of restaurants and takeaways in the Burnt Pine central shopping precinct but the range of food is somewhat limited. Much of the accommodation is dated though clean and comfortable.

Be prepared to pay if you want fresh milk, at about $AUS8.60/litre, and only available on Sundays after the weekly flight from Auckland arrives. Otherwise, it is UHT milk that goes in your tea, coffee or on your cereal. There are two supermarkets on the island at the moment, neither as large as a Coles or Woolworths, more like an IGA size, and with limited brands and stock levels. The stock is mainly a mix of Australian and New Zealand products.

There is currently a political storm involving the island with Australia planning on implementing commonly available things like Medicare and Centrelink Benefits for NI citizens as from 1st July 2016. The changes are far reaching and will involve NI people paying Income Tax for the first time, changes to the way their businesses are run, licensing of same, etc..  A referendum on the island indicated 78% of the NI people do not want the changes but the Australian Government is making them regardless.

Our visit was over 10 days and we checked off all the things we felt we wanted to see off a master list easily. There are many other facets that we did not undertake, and not because of time, but simply because they held no interest for either of us.  I was lucky that I took amateur radio equipment to use during the trip because I would have been utterly bored before the end of the 10 days otherwise.  

We have no plans to revisit Norfolk, lovely as it is, because we have largely seen what it has to offer and would be better served by spending our money visiting somewhere new.