Norfolk Island: an unspoilt and friendly tropical haven
"SMALL world, no small wonder" is a well worn slogan that still aptly describes Norfolk Island.
It is an unspoilt South Pacific island, rich in experiences, great for families and couples and a destination where there's more to see and do than people realise.
My first impressions are of a pristine environment, a relaxed ambience and a sense of belonging.
The stage is set for a brief but memorable stay, following a cheerful greeting on arrival, from Norfolk Island Tourism's Tania Anderson... watawieh! (hello!)... wafkum! (welcome!).
General manager of the organisation Glen Buffett happily points out there's more to the island than its convict history.
He proudly says the island should be "your memory of peace, harmony and adventure … we balance our 360 degree world at Norfolk Island".
A descendant of pioneers, Mr Buffett has a passion for Norfolk and tourism. He left 17 years ago to get more experience and has come back to get "my dream job".
Norfolk Island has "unique diversity and connectiveness" in its history, nature and culture.
Building a sustainable infrastructure and selling Norfolk is his ideal.
With his enthusiasm, initiative, drive, foresight and commitment, this is one aspiration Mr Buffett is sure to achieve successfully.
Long weekend escapes
Norfolk is rich in experiences where long weekend escapes are possible, with direct flights that can get you there in about two hours from Sydney and Brisbane.
Norfolk is a petite island of 3455 hectares sitting splendidly in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Australian mainland and 1063 kilometres from Auckland.
You'll be surprised not only by its sheer sprawling magnificence, but also how amiable, warm, open and yes, a touch eccentric it is...and that's most appealing.
Norfolk Island was where the "worst of the worst" convicts were sent, for this was an infamous prison in the British Empire in the 1800s.
Unpleasant stories of their mistreatment and anguish abound. But the island is inhabited by descendants of the original mutineers from Captain Bligh's ill-fated voyage on the Bounty.
Discovered by Captain James Cook in 1774, the British used it as a penal colony, twice.
The original township of Kingston (in the World Heritage listed Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area) still stands guard on Slaughter Bay, with a golf course and a cemetery, where the headstone inscriptions impart unsettling stories.
Curator of the Norfolk Island Museum Lisa Richards said visitors could immerse themselves in the amazing stories of Norfolk Island in its museums at Kingston.
It's a history that spans Polynesian and two penal settlements, to The Bounty descendants of today.
Scenic views abound from the top of Captain Cook's lookout at the high point of Mount Pitt; marvel at Cyclorama, the giant panoramic painting that follows the story of The Bounty and its crew.
Pack your passport. Beaming smiles from friendly locals confirm the world of Norfolk is indeed unique.
*The writer was a guest of Norfolk Island Tourism and Air New Zealand.