Norfolk Island

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Norfolk Island is a small populated island in the Pacific Ocean, east of Australia, North West of New Zealand. Norfolk Island is an external territory of Australia. The island's current population averages about 2,000 people. An interesting fact is that only three surnames are used by most residents.


Norfolk Island was discovered by the great British navigator, Captain James Cook in 1774. Cook was impressed with the size of the native pine trees, subsequently named Norfolk Pines. Indeed, it was these pines that constituted one of the reasons for settling as they seemed suitable for use use in ship building in the nascent colony at Port Jackson. Indeed, within months of settlement the first expedition to settle the island brought back spare spars for ships of the First Fleet. (The wood was not particularly successful for ships but the trees themselves are a major part of the charm of many of Sydney's surf beaches.)

Early years

In 1788 those convicts who behaved well in the New South Wales penal settlement were sent to Norfolk Island to a separate colony primarily to protect the island from French settlement. This settlement began to be dismantled in 1805 and was closed in 1814. The main transfer of settlers occurred in 1808 with grants of land given in various parts of Van Diemen's Land, mainly in northern Hobart, in the Derwent River valley (modern New Norfolk) and in the north of the state on the Norfolk Plains around modern Longford.

The second settlement (from 1825) was also a prison colony, but for the worst repeat offenders from the New South Wales and Tasmanian prison colonies. This prison colony also closed (in 1855), and the island was used to move the thriving population of descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers from the much smaller Pitcairn Island in 1856. This small group is the reason for the small number of surnames.

Recent history

An airstrip was built on the island during World War II, and it was a staging and refuelling point for aircraft flying from New Zealand and Australia to the Pacific Theatre. The major industry is tourism, with regular flights to both Australia and New Zealand. From 1979 the island was self-governed, however during 2016 all functions of government were taken over by the Australian government and residents "enjoy" the same laws and stictures of mainland Australians.

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