Norfolk Island is a fantastic place to visit. If you are planning your first trip then you are surely in for a surprise. If you are a returning visitor then you know you’ll have a great time. Regardless of which type of visitor you are, we’ve prepared 27 amazing facts about Norfolk Island that you might not know about.
Facts about Norfolk Island
1. The island has just over 2000 residents
Although Norfolk Island has a rich history and is a great vacation spot, it’s still a rather small island. In fact, the total population was only 2,188 according to the 2021 census. Needless to say, everyone knows each other on the island!
2. Do you know Norf’k?
Here’s an interesting Norfolk Island fact for you: they have their own language. That’s right! Due to the early shipping traffic, the local language became a mix of 18th-century Tahitian and English.
If you think it’s something forgotten then you are wrong. It’s called Norf’k and it’s actually the second official language of the island. Of course, the first official language is English itself.
3. The King of the United Kingdom the head of state
Norfolk Island is part of the Australian external territories. As Australia recognizes the UK monarch as head of state so does Norfolk Island.
Of course, the day-to-day business is handled by someone local. An administrator is in charge of the island. Officially, as an external territory, the island is under the control of the Federal Government.
4. The island is named after a duchess
Captain James Cook was the first known European captain to lay eyes on Norfolk Island. It was during his second trip to the South Pacific. He named his discovery after the Duchess of Norfolk.
Little did the captain know the Duchess was actually dead by this point, but when he sailed from England she was still alive.
5. It started out as a penal settlement
As it is with some of the small islands around Australia and New Zealand the first use for Norfolk Island was a penal settlement.
Convicts from England were shipped to Norfolk Island where they could spend their punishment. Looking around the beauty of the island, it sure beats an 18th-century London prison.
6. The original settlers have all disappeared
The island was actually settled before its discovery by European captains. Historical excavations unveiled that East Polynesian settlers arrived on Norfolk Island first.
Evidence suggests that multiple generations of these settlers lived on the island until at one point they disappeared. When the island was discovered it was uninhabited.
To this day the fate of the original settlers is unknown.
7. Animals roam around the island
Animals and especially cows are free to roam around the island. They actually have the right of way! Whenever you are driving around the island don’t be surprised to find them in the middle of the road.
8. The maximum speed limit is 50 km/h
If it’s your first time visiting then we bet you didn’t know this Norfolk Island fact! The maximum speed limit everywhere is just 50 km/h. This is a mere 31 mph. Talk about a slow pace of life.
9. No snakes!
Snakes are not native to the island and they were never brought in. This means there are no snakes on Norfolk Island. If you are someone afraid of snakes we bet that this fact about Norfolk Island makes you feel better.
10. There is no public transport
You will not find any kind of public transport on the island. As it has only a few full-time residents and the total area is rather small it makes no sense to keep any kind of public transport.
Travelers will usually rent a car to get around and all the locals have one anyway.
11. Norfolk Island’s capital is Kingston
This fact is not interesting by itself however you will be pleased to learn that Kingston is the second oldest town in Australia. This means that you can visit a truly historic place when you choose to travel to Norfolk Island.
12. Norfolk Island celebrates Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a distinctly American holiday. Whether you are watching American TV shows or movies, thanksgiving always makes a big appearance. However, for the rest of the world, it’s not a really important date.
Not on Norfolk Island! Here, you can celebrate thanksgiving with the locals. The tradition was brought to the island by the American whaling ships’ crews.
13. You can golf in a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Yes, you heard that right! The Norfolk Island Golf Club is one of the only golf clubs located entirely inside a World Heritage Site. It’s among the unique things you can experience on the island.
14. Food is always fresh here
Residents on the island produce their own vegetables and the free-roaming cows provide plenty of meat and dairy products.
Go into a restaurant and you’ll find fresh products used to prepare your food. This does mean that some items on the menu are seasonal.
15. Enjoy four seasons of spring
Visiting Norfolk Island almost always feels like spring. You can expect mild weather, plenty of quick rain, and lush greenery everywhere. Of course, you will see better temperatures during summer and a bit lower during winter but the change is not drastic. Check out our article on Norfolk Island weather for more info.
16. Descendants of Pitcairn Islanders live here
Around 20% of the population can be traced back to the famous Pitcairn Islanders. They were a community of descendants of mutineers from the HMS Bounty and Tahitians.
Once the community became a bit too big for the Pitcairn Islands, Norfolk Island was deemed a suitable place to continue growing.
17. You won’t see big ships landing on the island
This is a really interesting fact about Norfolk Island! Whenever you visit you will never see an actual big cargo or passenger ship directly unloading to the island.
The reality is that big ships must anchor at least 1 km away from the island. Once they are anchored down small transports will go back and forth to unload any cargo.
Many travelers love to watch this unloading process as it’s very unusual. Especially considering that most of the island’s resources arrive via shipping.
18. Everyone must try fishing on Norfolk Island
We always love to mention that Norfolk Island feels pretty much untouched by humans. Yes, people live here but it’s still dominated by nature.
This also leads to an interesting fact when you want to go fishing. The ocean is absolutely full of fish. You can easily catch many tips of fish here. Big, small it doesn’t matter. The point is that you should definitely try fishing on Norfolk Island.
19. You will find nicknames in phonebooks
Almost all local residents have nicknames on the island. In fact, many like to use their nicknames almost all the time. This leads to an interesting fact about Norfolk Island’s phonebook.
When you check the phonebook you will see the normal data you would expect, name, phone number, etc. However, there is one last column not present anywhere else in the world. This last column contains people’s nicknames as they are known to the locals.
20. The island has its own holiday: Bounty Day
Bounty Day is celebrated on the 8th of June by the locals and it’s a public holiday on the island. This day marks the day in 1856 when Bounty Mutineers landed on the island and it transformed from a penal colony to a small friendly settlement.
21. Slaughter bay is an important shipwreck site
HMS Sirus ran ashore on the reefs near Slaughter Bay bringing down the whole ship. Despite being possibly Australia’s most significant shipwreck site, it took until the 1980s for her significant artifacts to be retrieved from the ocean below.
22. Norfolk Island is truly tiny
We know that Norfolk Island is small but there is a fact that puts it all into perspective. The Commonwealth of Australia’s Norfolk Island is the smallest self-governing territory.
23. Tourism is the main source of income for the island
Although we consider Norfolk Island a hidden gem, tourism is still the most important industry for the island.
Approximately 30,000 travelers visit the island each year. This is a considerable amount but luckily at no time does the island feel overcrowded by tourism.
24. It’s all volcanic
Just like many other smaller islands on the Pacific, Norfolk Island is a volcanic island. Don’t worry though, the volcano is long dormant.
25. The Norfolk Island Pine tree is from here
As the name suggests, the Norfolk Island Pine tree is actually from here. Every year pine seeds are exported all around the world.
26. Unique Plants
The island has 174 native plants. That’s quite a lot for such a small place! However, as one of the interesting facts about Norfolk Island, 51 out of the native plants are unique to Norfolk Island. Some of these plants are not even found anywhere else in the world, so that’s one more unique experience for you.
27. Norfolk Island has its own flag
The island has an official flag. Of course, it has the Norfolk Island Pine in the middle of the flag.