Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 22, June 1978
by NELLIE BAIN
We boarded the plane on Wednesday 9/6/76 at Auckland and for a few of us, it was the first experience of flying. It was beautiful above the clouds with patches of land far below. It was calm and the sun shone as we flew over the sea. We were well looked after on the plane and a half an hour before landing the Captain spoke through the loud speaker to let us know we were approaching our destination.
I looked down and saw a little island that just appeared out of the blue. Before long we touched down and were alighting into a colourful scene with the sun shining brightly. The island is about 15 square miles in area with plants and birds few in number. The beaches are small circled with coral reefs. After settling in, it was discovered that it was half holiday for the shops so we had to content ourselves with window shopping.
The following morning, Thursday 10/6/76 was spent shopping; after lunch we went on a bus trip to places of historical interest. We saw the remains of the old convict buildings, the water mill, the salt and flour mills, then travelled on the Bloody Bridge, so named because of its terrible history. Twelve convicts goaded beyond endurance turned on their harsh over-seer and murdered him, burying his body in the sand and stone, of which the bridge is built. They were all later executed.
From there we went to Kingston Jetty and a bitterly cold wind blew up. So we moved on past Government House and the old Arches, the stables and ruins left behind from the second convict settlement in 1856. From here on it was up hill and down dale, through stately Norfolk pine forests. The next stop was the Melanesian Mission Chapel. In 1866, the Rev. Palmer together with 16 Melanesian boys arrived and settled on the land which had been granted to the Anglican Mission. A fine stone church was built and named St. Barnabas Chapel. The interior of the church is beautiful. The ceiling of Norfolk pine and a marble floor. Stained glass windows and carving at the rear of the altar came from England. The pews are New Zealand Kauri, ends inlaid with mother of pearl. The walls are made from local yellow sand, stone, and white sand from New Zealand.
On Friday 11/6/76 soon after breakfast we rushed off to do more shopping. A car was hired to drive us round to different parts of the island and up to the beacon at the top of Mt. Pitt which gave us a panoramic view of the island. As we came down the mountain we stopped at a branch road and strolled along it looking at the different trees. Wild lemon trees (as well as rats) ran through the low scrub along the sides of the road. The only tree to resemble our New Zealand native trees was one they called the Norfolk Palm or Broom, which is very like our Nikau.
Next morning we had our by now routine shopping session followed by a drive out to the hundred acre forest where we took a quick walk through. We saw some very tall pines and a large number of tree ferns. We then went through to where the gannets nest at Rocky Point. Also seen were a pair of Red parrots and White Trens [terns? – E].
In the afternoon all our party went by bus to Emily Bay and boarded a glass bottomed boat to view the coral reef with coloured fish and catfish bunched together. It was quite an experience for us all to see a Moray eel. Our guide, Mr. Kenny, whistled and a shoal of fish followed the boat. They were mostly herrings and trevalli. The glass bottom allowed us to view the different corals quite clearly.
Again on Sunday 13/6/77 more shopping, then to the Norfolk Hotel for lunch. It is a different style from the South Pacific but equally as attractive. Back at the South Pacific we started packing our bags as they had to be outside by 8 a.m. on Monday morning. In the evening we were shown a film in the hotel lounge which was attended by quite a crowd.
Before leaving on Monday, 14/6/77 we took a last look at the shops then went by bus to the airport. The sun was shining as we boarded the plane for New Zealand and bid farewell to Norfolk Island.
The sea looked beautiful with the sun shine on it but the most beautiful sight was seeing North Cape and Cape Reinga and the lovely sweeping sands of North Auckland. The plane landed at 4.20 p.m. The weather was cold but our hearts were warm at being back home in dear New Zealand and being welcomed by our friends and families. Then, even though we all went our separate ways, we felt linked together by the happy memories of our trip to Norfolk Island.