Norfolk Island is a mere two-and-a-half-hour flight from Sydney, but you’ll need your passport to get here – making it feel like an overseas adventure, too. This tiny, eight-by-five-kilometre island is steeped in a laidback, subtropical atmosphere that’ll have your shoulders decompressing as soon as you land. It’s the kind of place where locals wave as they drive by, doors are often left unlocked, cows have right of way on the roads, and bare feet aren’t frowned upon.
Norfolk Island boasts plenty of sights and activities to keep you as busy or as laidback as you like. Its fascinating colonial history (it was the site of a brutal penal colony before being re–inhabited by Bounty Mutineers and their Tahitian companions in the 1850s) comes to life in a variety of well–curated museums and restored Georgian homesteads. You can take the kids on a spooky night–time ‘sound and light show’ where locals re–enact scenes from the troubled penal colony as you tour the historic buildings dotted along the foreshore in a minibus, with commentary from one of the island’s ‘ghosts’.
If you’d prefer to keep your holiday ghost-free, you can swim and snorkel beneath the famous Norfolk pines at the idyllic Emily Bay beach or take a glass-bottomed boat tour to view the abundant marine life that lives in the turquoise waters. There’s a handmade chocolate shop; mini-golf (and a lovely grown-up golf course, as well); and farm tours to show the kids where ‘real food’ comes from. Don’t miss the weekly cliff-top fish fry, a yummy buffet of seafood and other local dishes held overlooking the sea as the sun sets through the Norfolk pines.
Norfolk Island has a range of mostly low-key accommodation, much of it self-contained. The five-star Tin Sheds has also recently opened, with luxurious mod-cons, spacious outdoor areas, and goodie boxes full of fun sporting equipment.
Get there: Air New Zealand flies toNorfolk Island from Brisbane and Sydney.
Stay there: The Tin Sheds Norfolk Island offers luxury accommodation with all the toys you need to explore the natural environment.
Eat there: Enjoy local food with stunning views at Cliff Top Fish Fry. +6723 22424; See pinetreetours.com
For more information: norfolkisland.com.au