I find something exciting about travelling to an island, the remoteness and beauty combined make for a memorable destination, and the arrival on Norfolk is no exception. After two hours of seeing nothing below but water, the plane descends until it seems the wheels are almost touching the water. Only at the last moment does crashing surf come in to view, with a sheer cliff; the top of which is dotted with iconic Norfolk Pine trees. I decided there was a lot to like about this island before we’d even arrived at the terminal.
There can’t be many places in the world where the Head of Tourism welcomes every visitor personally to the island, but Norfolk is one such place. Rose – who is responsible for developing tourism on the island – greeted every person coming through the arrival doors, ensured they knew where their transfer was, checked if they needed anything, and wished them a pleasant stay.
Most hotels on the island seem to follow a very similar concept; all are set in stunning locations, with views over the rolling hills, the sea, or even both. All are beautifully landscaped with pathways leading off though the shrubs and trees to the various rooms; virtually all of which are units on their own, which ensure a degree of both privacy and seclusion.
My room at the Governor’s Lodge is self-contained, with a spacious living room, a small kitchenette, a separate bedroom and bathroom. Air conditioning is not allowed on the island in either hotels or personal homes (due to the load on the very limited electricity grid), but the islanders have been smart in their use of shade and creating air flows, so the rooms remains cool, despite the blazing sun and humidity.
It doesn’t take long to notice how friendly the locals are, and how open and trustworthy there are to visitors. I notice car windows are left open as they are parked – even in the most secluded spots. I walk into a café and wait several minutes at the counter wondering why it’s so quiet and why I’m not being served, before I realise that it’s been closed for a few hours, not only were the doors not locked, but left wide open! The locals never lock their doors I’m told. After less than 24 hours on the island I’m already being greeted by name as I walk down the street and being approached for a chat in the café while I’m having lunch.
For such a small island I would imagine sea views at every turn, but due to the rolling hills that cover the island, that’s not quite the case here, but I don’t think there’s a bad view to be had! During a short walk, I passed rolling hills, lush forest and beautifully manicured gardens – all vibrantly green despite the high temperatures. One moment I’ll be looking over the hills and at the next turn I’d be rewarded with a stunning view down a steep cliff to the crashing surf below. The characteristic Norfolk Pines are everywhere you look, as if placed there for picturesque effect and just to remind you where you are.
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Words and images by Matt Scott, product manager at Holidays of Australia & the World