from Anne in Adelaide, Australia and Kellie on Norfolk Island: overseas to an ‘external territory’

Remains of the Penal Settlement – with the famous Norfolk island ‘pines’

September 24. Norfolk island is an ‘external territory’ of Australia, 1,400 odd km east of mainland Australia and closer to New Zealand than Australia. The flight to the island takes 2.5 hours. 1,700+ people live on the island and they have a distinct culture and history. It is famous or infamous for its history as a brutal penal settlement (1788-1855) and for the arrival of the Pitcairn ‘refugees’ (descendants of Tahitians and the HMS Bounty mutineers) in 1856.

Currently, there are no Covid-19 cases on the Island and after 4 months of strict isolation, Norfolk Islanders are encouraging visitors from the mainland (except tourists from our state of Victoria).

My cousin’s daughter, Kellie, is working on Norfolk Island. Thanks to her, I have a little insight into the island. Here are some of Kellie’s observations with my cousin Patricia’s photographs.

Kellie: “Life on the island is very interesting. Norfolk Island is about 8 km long and 5 km wide. The islanders have their own language called Norfulk which is a different language (NB. It is a blend of 18th-century English and Tahitian, originally introduced by Pitkern-speaking settlers from the Pitcairn Islands. Along with English, it is the co-official language of Norfolk Island).

The culture is also interesting. When a person passes away, they fly the flags at ½ mask and on the day of the funeral they also fly the flags at ½ mask. This is done all over the island.

Supplies are brought to Norfolk Island and trans-shipped by tender.

If you have an emergency, (e.g. heart attack) you are medevacked off the island. Our hospital does not have the doctors or facilities for such emergencies. Also, if you are having a child you need to go over to the mainland to give birth. With anything more complex with health care we need to head back to the mainland for attention.

Our phone system is owned by Norfolk Telecom. For me to phone my mother on the mainland, it is an international phone call. All mobiles here are prepaid numbers.

Historic gravestone on Norfolk. They all face the sunrise.

Currently, my work place is down at Kingston and Vale History Area (KAVHA) and the building is also historic. It is really nice there as I work on the top floor and able to look at the ocean each day from my windows.

All vegetables are grown on the Island. I have to really know what is in season for my meal. This includes fresh fruit. I bought some mandarins and bananas at the markets on Saturday. A ship which comes in every 3 months with all other supplies. The ship used to come in every month but it is decommissioned now due to age.

I am lucky that I have made some really nice friends here. These friends have made my life living on the island a blessing. We go out for dinner every Friday night. After dinner we head off to the RSL for the raffles. They also have invited me to Bounty Day celebrations.

This week we are celebrating 75 years of Peace in the Pacific. They have something going on every day this week which should be interesting. They have a vintage vehicle street parade on Saturday which I am hoping to make it to. Also, on Saturday night they have Celebrate Peace night.

It has been a difficult year with Covid-19. I was meant to head off on holidays in May/June for 3 weeks but I was unable to leave the island. I just have to wait now until it is safe.

Previously, if you came to Norfolk Island from NSW, ACT or Victoria you had to isolate for 2 week this includes if you overnight in any of these places.”

Anne: I did not know that there was a distinct language on Norfolk Island. So, I looked up Norfulk. Here are some words to consider. I think they are most expressive – samples below. I would love to visit Norfolk Island … I will put it on the ‘travel list’ that I am compiling!

Let me try some Norfulk : Trump is car-do and the world is bussup…..??

Bussup – Broken in pieces
Carfoot – Don’t know why
Car-do – No Good
Deffy – This way
Daffy – That way
Do-mine – Never mind
Dem – Those
Dar-de-way – That’s the way
Dars-et – That’s it
Estolley – Untrue
Foot nort – Why not
Fuwa – Why
Gurret – Angry
Gwen – Going
He-he – Periwinkles
Hilli – Lazy, dopey
Ho-ya – Peculiar
Hattay – Here it is
Ippy – A silly person

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