Norfolk Island

Territory of Norfolk Island
Flag of Norfolk Island Coat of Arms of Norfolk Island
(Flag) (Coat of Arms)
Motto: Inasmuch
Anthem: Pitcairn Anthem
Location of Norfolk Island
Other Australian States and Territories
Capital Kingston
Largest city Burnt Pine
Official languages English, Norfuk
Government
 • Administrator
 • Chief Minister
Const. monarchy
Grant Tambling
David Buffett
Status
 • Self-governing territory
External Territory
Norfolk Island Act 1979
Area
 • Total
 • Water (%)
 
34.6  km² (226th)
0%
Population
 • 2004 est.
 • Density
 
1,841 (232nd)
53.2/km² (191st)
Currency Dollar (AUD)
Time zone (UTC + 11:30)
Internet TLD .nf
Calling code +6723

Norfolk Island (Norfuk: Norfuk Ailen) is a small inhabited island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia, and along with two neighbouring islands forms one of Australia's external territories.

The Norfolk Island pine, a symbol of the island pictured in its flag, is a striking evergreen tree native to the island and is quite popular in Australia, where two related species also grow.

Contents

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Geography

Norfolk Island is located in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia. Norfolk Island is the main island of the island group the territory encompasses and is located at . It has an area of 34.6 km² (13.3 mi²), with no large-scale internal bodies of water but 32 km of coastline. The island's highest point is Mt. Bates (319 m above sea level), located in the northwest quadrant of the island. The majority of the terrain is suitable for farming and other agricultural uses. Phillip Island, the second largest island of the territory, is located at , several kilometres south of the main island.

The coastline of Norfolk Island consists, to varying degrees, of cliff faces. A downward slope exists towards Sydney Bay and Emily Bay, the site of the original colonial settlement of Kingston. There are no safe harbour facilities on Norfolk Island, with loading jetties existing at Kingston and Cascade Bay. All goods not domestically produced are brought in by ship, usually to Cascade Bay. Emily Bay, protected from the Pacific Ocean by a small coral reef, is the only safe area for recreational swimming, although surfing waves can sometimes be found in Ball Bay.

The climate is subtropical and mild, with little seasonal differentiation. The island is a volcanic formation with mostly rolling plains.

Panoramic view of Norfolk Island with Nepean and Phillip Islands in the distance.
Panoramic view of Norfolk Island with Nepean and Phillip Islands in the distance.
Location of Norfolk Island

The area surrounding Mt. Bates is preserved as the Norfolk Island National Park. The park, covering around 10% of the land of the island, contains remnants of the forests which originally covered the island, including stands of subtropical rainforest.

The park also includes the two smaller islands to the south of Norfolk Island, Nepean Island and Phillip Island. The vegetation of Phillip Island was devastated due to the introduction during the penal era of pest animals such as pigs and rabbits, giving it a red-brown colour as viewed from Norfolk; however, pest control and remediation work by park staff has recently brought some improvement to the Phillip Island environment.

The major settlement on the Island is Burnt Pine, located predominantly along Taylor's Road, where the shopping centre, post office, liquor store, telephone exchange and community hall are located. Settlement also exists over much of the island, consisting largely of widely-separated homesteads.

Government House, the official residence of the Administrator, is located on Quality Row in what was the penal settlement of Kingston. Other government buildings, including the court, Legislative Assembly and Administration, are also located there. Kingston's role is largely a ceremonial one, however, with most of the economic impetus coming from Burnt Pine.

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History

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Early history

Norfolk Island was first settled by East Polynesian seafarers, either from the Kermadec Islands north of New Zealand, or from the North Island of New Zealand. They arrived in the fourteenth or fifteenth century, and survived for several generations before disappearing. Their main village site has been excavated at Emily Bay, and they also left behind stone tools, the Polynesian Rat, and banana trees as evidence of their sojourn. The final fate of these early settlers remains a mystery.

The first European known to have sighted the island was Captain James Cook, in 1774, on his second voyage to the South Pacific on HMS Resolution. He named it after the Duchess of Norfolk, wife of Edward Howard, 9th Duke of Norfolk (1685-1777). The Duchess was dead at the time of the island's sighting by Cook, but Cook had set out from England in 1772 and could not have known of her May 1773 death.

Cook went ashore on Tuesday 11 October 1774, and is said to have been impressed with the tall straight trees and flax-like plants. He took samples back to the United Kingdom and reported on their potential uses for the Royal Navy.

Andrew Kippis as the biographer of this voyage puts it as follows: As the Resolution pursued her course from New Caledonia, land was discovered, which, on a nearer approach, was found to be an island, of good height, and five leagues in circuit. Captain Cook named it Norfolk Isle, in honour of the noble family of Howard (Fn.: It is situated in the latitude of 29° 2' 30" south, and in the longitude of 168° 16' east). It was uninhabited; and the first persons that ever set foot on it were unquestionably our English navigators. Various trees and plants were observed that are common at New Zealand; and in particular, the flax plant, which is rather more luxuriant here than in any other part of that country. The chief produce of the island is a kind of spruce pine, exceedingly straight and tall, which grows in great abundance. Such is the size of many of the trees that, breast high, they are as thick as two men can fathom. Among the vegetables of the place, the palm-cabbage afforded both a wholesome and palatable refreshment; and, indeed, proved the most agreeable repast that our people had for a considerable time enjoyed...

At the time, the United Kingdom was heavily dependent on flax (for sails) and hemp (for ropes) from the shores of the Baltic Sea ports. Any threat to their supply endangered the United Kingdom's sea power. The UK also relied on timbers from New England for mainmasts, and these were not supplied after the American War of Independence. The alternative source of Norfolk Island for these supplies is argued by some historians, notably Geoffrey Blainey in The Tyranny of Distance, as being a major reason for the founding of the convict settlement of New South Wales by the First Fleet in 1788.

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First penal settlement

Before the First Fleet sailed to found a convict settlement in New South Wales, Governor Arthur Phillip's final instructions, received less than three weeks before sailing, included the requirement to colonize Norfolk Island to prevent it falling into the hands of France[citation needed], whose naval leaders were also showing interest in the Pacific. When the fleet arrived at Port Jackson in January 1788, Phillip ordered Lieutenant Philip Gidley King to lead a party of fifteen convicts and seven free men to take control of the island and prepare for its commercial development. They arrived on 6 March 1788.

It was soon found[citation needed] that the flax was difficult to prepare for manufacturing and no one had the necessary skills. An attempt was made to bring two Māori men to teach the skills of dressing and weaving flax, but this failed when it was discovered that weaving was considered women's work and the two men had little knowledge of it. The pine timber was found to be not resilient enough for masts and this industry was also abandoned.

More convicts were sent, and the island was seen as a farm, supplying Sydney with grain and vegetables during its early years of near-starvation. However, crops often failed[citation needed] due to the salty wind, rats and caterpillars. The lack of a natural safe harbour hindered communication and the transport of supplies and produce.

Manning Clark observed that "at first the convicts behaved well, but as more arrived from Sydney Cove, they renewed their wicked practices". These included an attempted overthrow of King in January 1789 by convicts described by Margaret Hazzard as "incorrigible rogues who took his 'goodwill' for weakness". While some convicts responded well to the opportunities offered to become respectable, most remained "idle and miserable wretches" according to Clark, despite the climate and their isolation from previous haunts of crime.

The impending starvation at Sydney led to a great transplantation of convicts and marines to Norfolk Island in March 1790 on HMS Sirius. This attempt to relieve the pressure on Sydney turned to disaster when Sirius was wrecked and, although there was no loss of life, some stores were destroyed, and the ship's crew was marooned for ten months. This news was met in Sydney with “unspeakable consternation”[citation needed]. Norfolk Island was now further cut off from Sydney which, with the arrival of the Second Fleet with its cargo of sick and abused convicts, had more pressing problems to contend with.

In spite of this the settlement grew slowly as more convicts were sent from Sydney. Many convicts chose to remain as settlers on the expiry of their sentence, and the population grew to over 1000 by 1792.

Lieutenant governors of the first settlement:

Norfolk Island was governed by a succession of short-term commandants for the next 11 years, starting with King's replacement, Robert Ross 1789-1790. When Joseph Foveaux arrived as Lieutenant Governor in 1800, he found the settlement[citation needed] in a most disorderly state of affairs, little maintenance having been carried out in the previous four years, and he set about building it up, particularly through public works and attempts to improve education.

As early as 1794 King suggested its closure as a penal settlement as it was too remote and difficult for shipping, and too costly to maintain. By 1803 the Secretary of State, Lord Hobart, called for the removal of part of the Norfolk Island military establishment, settlers and convicts to Van Diemen's Land, due to its great expense and the difficulties of communication between Norfolk Island and Sydney. This was achieved more slowly than anticipated, due to reluctance of settlers to uproot themselves from the land they had struggled to tame, and compensation claims for loss of stock. It was also delayed by King's insistence on its value for providing refreshment to the whalers. The first group of 159 left in February 1805 and comprised mainly convicts and their families and military personnel, only four settlers departing. Between November 1807 and September 1808, five groups of 554 people departed. Only about 200 remained, forming a small settlement until the remnants were removed in 1813. A small party remained to slaughter stock and destroy all buildings so that there would be no inducement for anyone, especially from another European power, to visit that place.

Between 15 February 1814 and 6 June 1825 the island lay abandoned.

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Second penal settlement

Commandants of the second settlement:

In 1824 the British government instructed the Governor of New South Wales Thomas Brisbane to occupy Norfolk Island as a place to send “the worst description of convicts”. Its remoteness, seen previously as a disadvantage, was now viewed as an asset for the detention of the “twice-convicted” men, those who had committed further crimes since arriving in New South Wales. Brisbane assured his masters that “the felon who is sent there is forever excluded from all hope of return” He saw Norfolk Island as “the nec plus ultra of Convict degradation”.

His successor, Governor Ralph Darling, was even more severe than Brisbane, wishing that “every man should be worked in irons that the example may deter others from the commission of crime” and “to hold out [Norfolk Island] as a place of the extremest punishment short of death”. Governor George Arthur, in Van Diemen's Land, likewise believed that “when prisoners are sent to Norfolk Island, they should on no account be permitted to return. Transportation thither should be considered as the ultimate limit and a punishment short only of death”. Reformation of the convicts was not seen as an objective of the Norfolk Island penal settlement.

The evidence that has passed down through the years points to the creation of a "Hell in Paradise". A widespread and popular notion of the harshness of penal settlements, including Norfolk Island, has come from the novel For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke, which appears to be based on the writings and recollections of witnesses and from the fictional writings of Price Warung.

Following a convict mutiny in 1834, Father William Ullathorne, Vicar general of Sydney, visited Norfolk Island to comfort the mutineers due for execution. He found it “the most heartrending scene that I ever witnessed”. Having the duty of informing the prisoners as to who was reprieved and who was to die, he was shocked to record as “a literal fact that each man who heard his reprieve wept bitterly, and that each man who heard of his condemnation to death went down on his knees with dry eyes, and thanked God.”

The 1846 report of magistrate Robert Pringle Stuart exposed the scarcity and poor quality of food, inadequacy of housing, horrors of torture and incessant flogging, insubordination of convicts, and corruption of overseers.

Bishop Robert Willson visited Norfolk Island from Van Diemen's Land on three occasions. Following his first visit in 1846 he reported to the House of Lords who, for the first time, came to realise the enormity of atrocities perpetrated under the British flag and attempted to remedy the evils. Willson returned in 1849 and found that many of the reforms had been implemented. However, rumours of resumed atrocities brought him back in 1852, and this visit resulted in a damning report, listing atrocities and blaming the system, which invested one man at this remote place with absolute power over so many people.

Only a handful of convicts left any written record and their descriptions (as quoted by Hazzard and Hughes) of living and working conditions, food and housing, and, in particular, the punishments given for seemingly trivial offences, are unremittingly horrifying, describing a settlement devoid of all human decency, under the iron rule of the tyrannical autocratic commandants.

The actions of some of the commandants, such as Morisset and particularly Price appear to be excessively harsh. All but one were military officers, brought up in a system where discipline was inhumanely severe throughout the period of transportation. In addition, the commandants relied on a large number of military guards, civil overseers, ex-convict constables, and convict informers to provide them with intelligence and carry out their orders.

Of the Commandants, only Alexander Maconochie appeared to reach the conclusion that brutality would breed defiance, as demonstrated by the mutinies of 1826, 1834 and 1846, and he attempted to apply his theories of penal reform, providing incentives as well as punishment. His methods were criticised as being too lenient and he was replaced, a move that returned the settlement to its harsh rule.

The second penal settlement began to be wound down by the British Government after 1847 and the last convicts were removed to Tasmania in May 1855. It was abandoned because transportation to Van Diemen's Land had ceased in 1853 and was replaced by penal servitude in the United Kingdom.

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Settlement by Pitcairn Islanders

On 6 June 1856, another group of exiles arrived at Norfolk Island. These were the descendants of Tahitians and the HMAV Bounty mutineers, resettled from the Pitcairn Islands which had become too small for their growing population. The British government had permitted the transfer of the Pitcairners to Norfolk, which was thus established as a colony separate from New South Wales but under the administration of that colony's governor.

The Pitcairn people occupied many of the buildings remaining from the penal settlements, and gradually established their traditional farming and whaling industries on the island. Although some families decided to return to Pitcairn in 1858 and 1863, the island's population continued to slowly grow as the island accepted settlers, often arriving with whaling fleets.

In 1867, the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission of the Church of England were established on the island, and in 1882 a church of St. Barnabas was erected to the memory of the Mission's head Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, with windows designed by Burne-Jones and executed by William Morris. In 1920 the Mission was relocated from the island to the Solomon Islands to be closer to its target population.

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20th century

This stamp was issued in 1981 to commemorate the first landing of an aircraft at the island, Sir Francis Chichester's Gypsy Moth "Mme Elijah", at Cascade Bay on March 28 1931
This stamp was issued in 1981 to commemorate the first landing of an aircraft at the island, Sir Francis Chichester's Gypsy Moth "Mme Elijah", at Cascade Bay on March 28 1931

After the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, Norfolk Island was placed under the authority of the new Commonwealth government to be administered as an external territory.

During World War II, the island was used as a key airbase and refuelling location between Australia and New Zealand. As the island fell within New Zealand's area of responsibility it was garrisoned by a New Zealand Army unit known as N Force. Norfolk Island did not, however, come under attack during the war.

In 1979, Norfolk was granted self-government by Australia, under which the island elects a government which runs most of the island's affairs. As such, residents of Norfolk Island are not represented in the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, making them the only group of residents of an Australian state or territory not represented there.

As of 2006, a review is underway whereby the Australian Government is considering revising this model of government[1].

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Politics

Norfolk Island is the only non-mainland Australian territory to have achieved self-governance. The Norfolk Island Act, passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1979, is the Act under which the island is governed. The Australian Government maintains authority on the island through an Administrator (currently Grant Tambling) who is appointed by the Governor-General of Australia. A Legislative Assembly is elected by popular vote for a term of not more than three years, although legislation passed by the Australian Parliament can extend its laws to the territory at will, including the power to override any laws made by the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly.

The Assembly consists of nine seats, with electors casting nine equal votes, of which no more than four can be given to any individual candidate. It is a method of voting called a "weighted first past the post system". Four of the members of the Assembly form the Executive Council, which devises policy and acts as an advisory body to the Administrator. The current Chief Minister of Norfolk Island is David Buffett. All seats are held by independent candidates as Norfolk Island does not have political parties.

The island's official capital is Kingston; however, Kingston functions mainly as a government centre and not as a settlement.

The most important national holiday is Bounty Day, celebrated on 8 June, in memory of the arrival of the Pitcairn Islanders in 1856.

Local ordinances and acts apply on the island, where most laws are based on the Australian legal system. Australian common law applies when not covered by either Australian or Norfolk Island law. Suffrage is universal at age eighteen.

As a territory of Australia, Norfolk Island does not have diplomatic representation abroad, or within the territory, and is also not a participant in any international organisations, other than sporting organisations.

The flag is three vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and green with a large green Norfolk Island pine tree centered in the slightly wider white band.

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Constitutional status

Controversy exists as to the exact status of Norfolk Island. Despite the island's status as a self-governing territory of Australia[1], some Islanders claim[2] that it was actually granted independence at the time Queen Victoria granted permission to Pitcairn Islanders to re-settle on the island. These views have been repeatedly rejected by the Australian parliament's joint committee on territories, most recently in 2004, and were also rejected by the High Court of Australia in Berwick Limited v R R Gray Deputy Commissioner of Taxation[3].

Disagreements over the island's relationship with Australia have been put in sharper relief by a 2006 review undertaken by the Australian government[1]. Under the more radical of two proposed models proposed as a result of the review, the island's legislative assembly would be reduced to the status of a local council[4].

The island is subject to separate immigration controls from the remainder of the nation.

Australian citizens and residents from other parts of the nation do not have automatic right of residence on the island. Australian citizens must carry either a passport or a Document of Identity to travel to Norfolk Island. Citizens of all other nations must carry a passport to travel to Norfolk Island even if arriving from other parts of Australia. Non-Australians without a multiple entry visa to Australia (or authority to enter without a visa) will be refused entry if they try to return to mainland Australia from Norfolk Island.

Residency on Norfolk Island requires sponsorship by an existing resident of Norfolk Island or a business operating on the island. Temporary residency may also be granted to skilled workers necessary for the island's services – examples are medical, government and teaching staff.

Permanent residents of Norfolk Island may apply for Australian citizenship after meeting normal residence requirements and are eligible to take up residence in mainland Australia at any time through the use of a Permanent Resident of Norfolk Island visa. Children born on Norfolk Island are Australian citizens as specified by Australian nationality law.

Medicare does not cover Norfolk Island[5]. All visitors to Norfolk Island, including Australians, are recommended to purchase travel insurance. Serious medical conditions are not treated on the island; rather, the patient is flown back to mainland Australia, if necessary by the Royal Australian Air Force.

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Crime

Though usually peaceful, Norfolk Island has been the site of two murders in the 21st century so far [6]. In 2002, Janelle Patton, an Australian living on the island, was found dead. Two years later, the Deputy Chief Minister of the island, Ivens "Toon" Buffett, was found shot dead, achieving the unlikely distinction of being the first Australian minister to be murdered in office. Other than these two events, crime rates are low on the island, although recent reports indicate that petty theft and dangerous driving are becoming more prevalent.

The Patton murder remained a mystery, with many residents arguing that traditional loyalties would serve to prevent a local being charged. In February 2006, however, a New Zealand chef, Glenn McNeill, who had been working on the island at the time, was arrested and charged with Patton's murder. McNeill has claimed at hearings both in Australia and on Norfolk Island that he accidentally hit Patton with his car. The trial is currently continuing on the island.

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Economy

Tourism, the primary economic activity, has steadily increased over the years. As Norfolk Island prohibits the importation of fresh fruit and vegetables, a vast majority of produce is grown locally. Beef is both produced locally and imported.

Norfolk Island claims an exclusive economic zone extending 200 nautical miles (370 km) and territorial sea claims to three nautical miles (6 km) from the island. It provides the islanders with fish, its only major natural resource, though there is speculation[4] that the zone may include oil and gas deposits.

There are no major arable lands or permanent farmlands, though about 25% of the island is a permanent pasture. There is no irrigated land.

The island uses the Australian dollar as its currency.

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Taxes

Residents of Norfolk Island do not pay Australian federal taxes[7], creating a tax haven for locals and visitors alike. Since there is no income tax the island's legislative assembly raises money through an import duty[4].

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Demographics

The population of Norfolk Island was estimated in July 2003 to be 1,853, with an annual population growth rate of 0.01%. In July 2003, 20.2% of the population were 14 years and under, 63.9% were 15 to 64 years and 15.9% were 65 years and over.

Most Islanders are of Caucasian ancestry, being descendants of the Bounty mutineers as well as more recent arrivals from Australia and New Zealand. About half of the islanders can trace their roots back to Pitcairn Island[4].

This common heritage has led to a limited number of surnames among the Islanders — a limit constraining enough that the island's telephone directory lists people by nickname (such as Cane Toad, Dar Bizziebee, Kik Kik, Lettuce Leaf, Mutty, Oot, Paw Paw, Snoop, Tarzan, and Wiggy)[4].

The majority of Islanders are Protestant Christians. In 1996, 37.4% identified as Anglican, 14.5% as Uniting Church, 11.5% as Roman Catholic and 3.1% as Seventh-day Adventist.

Literacy is not recorded officially, but it can be assumed to be roughly at a par with Australia's literacy rate, as Islanders attend a school which uses a New South Wales curriculum, before traditionally moving to the mainland for further study.

Islanders speak both English and a creole language known as Norfuk, a blend of 1700s-English and Tahitian. The Norfuk language is decreasing in popularity as more tourists travel to the island and more young people leave for work and study reasons; however, there are efforts to keep it alive via dictionaries and the renaming of some tourist attractions to their Norfuk equivalents. In April 2005, it was declared a co-official language of the island.

Emigration is growing as many Islanders take advantage of the close ties between Norfolk and Australia and New Zealand. The sole school on the island provides education to Australian Year 12; therefore, any student seeking to complete tertiary study must travel overseas. Additionally, the small economy of the island causes many skilled workers to emigrate as well.

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Transport and communications

There are no railways, waterways, ports or harbours on the island. Loading jetties are located at Kingston and Cascade, but ships cannot get close to either of them. When a supply ship arrives, it is emptied by whaleboats towed by launches, five tonnes at a time. Which jetty is used depends on the prevailing weather on the day. The jetty on the leeward side of the island is often used. If the wind changes significantly during unloading/loading, the ship will move round to the other side. Visitors often gather to watch the activity when a supply ship arrives.

There is one airport, Norfolk Island Airport.

There are 80 km of roads on the island, "little more than country lanes"[4]; local law gives cows the right of way[4].

As of 2004, 2532 telephone main lines are in use, a mix of analog (2500) and digital (32) circuits. Norfolk Island's country code is 672. Undersea coaxial cables link the island with Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Satellite service is planned.

There is one TV station featuring local programming Norfolk TV, plus transmitters for ABC TV and Southern Cross Television.

The Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is .nf.

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Culture

While there was no "indigenous" culture on the Island at the time of settlement, the Tahitian influence of the Pitcairn settlers has resulted in some aspects of Polynesian culture being adapted to that of Norfolk, including the hula dance. Local cuisine also shows influences from the same region.

Islanders are traditionally "outdoorsy" people, with fishing and other acquatic pursuits being common pastimes, an aspect which has become more noticeable as the island becomes more accessible to tourism. Most island families have at least one member involved in primary production in some form.

As all the Pitcairn settlers were related to each other, Islanders have historically been informal both to each other and to visitors. The most noticeable aspect of this is the "Norfolk Wave", with drivers waving to each other (ranging from a wave using the entire arm through to a raised index finger from the steering wheel) as they pass.

Religious observance remains an important part of life for most Islanders, particularly the older generations. Businesses tend to be closed on Mondays, for example.

One of the island's residents is the novelist Colleen McCullough, whose works include The Thorn Birds and the Masters of Rome series as well as Morgan's Run, set, in large part, on Norfolk Island.

Helen Reddy also moved to the island for a period but was denied a long term entry permit and has since moved on.

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References

History of penal settlements:

Specific references:

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 http://www.dotars.gov.au/terr/norfolk/governance_arrangements.aspx
  2. http://www.pitcairners.org/government3.html
  3. Berwick Limited v R R Gray Deputy Commissioner of Taxation
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/4991322.stm
  5. Medicare website
  6. http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2004/s1117595.htm
  7. ABC - Charting the Pacific
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External links

Coordinates:

WikiMapia has one or more wiki satellite maps of Norfolk Island.
Retrieved from "http://localhost../../art/r/d.html"



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