Photographs by Susan Prior. Above, the golf course at Kingston, Norfolk Island, in the morning light
We’ve had a week of island life. And we are, in equal parts, exhausted and elated.
I can’t begin to tell you how welcome we’ve been made to feel, and how much that has meant to us after such a tiring and logistically difficult move to the island.
It began with a reception committee of friends on our arrival at Norfolk Island’s tiny airport on Tuesday 15 May, and since then it has flown by in a flurry of dinner invitations, social group meetings and people popping by to see how we are going. We’ve had gifts of plants for our very spacious and presently rather barren wrap-around veranda, freshly laid eggs, banana cake, massive chunks of pumpkin, a bunch of flowers picked from a garden, and a truck load of split firewood to keep us ticking over – all delivered with smiles, greetings and advice on where to go, what to do, how to do it, and who to ask.
Extraordinary welcomes like this are what makes Norfolk Island such a special place.
By Saturday, thoroughly pooped, we were keen to relax, christen the log fire and toast the royal bride and groom while watching the box with a glass of wine, but we only had one defunct television – an old cathode ray job, fittingly branded Le Musée – left by the previous owner. How appreciative were we when no less than three people showed up with spare TVs – one was even brand new, not yet out of its box. After much stabbing at buttons, connecting and reconnecting wires, random black boxes and aerials, and several attempts at tuning, we eventually found one that was able to pick up a signal without boosters or any other electronic gizmos.
We slumped gratefully into our recliners, also courtesy of the erstwhile owner, with 30 minutes to spare and clasping our glasses of wine!
Homes on the island come with a, sometimes, hotchpotch collection of furniture, crockery and kitchen equipment. When our own gear arrives, we will sift through and decide what to keep of this legacy. In the meantime, we camp with what we have.
Throughout the week we’ve sallied back and forth to the shops, most notably to the two hardware suppliers, buying everything from mops and buckets to paint so we can begin putting our stamp on our new home. Service has been ladled out with smiles, amazingly fast delivery, and quips and general good humour in equal measure.
For newbies fresh from the city like ourselves there are some challenges and considerations when coming to a tiny island like Norfolk. I believe residents of Australia, particularly those of us who come from along the more densely populated east coast, are some of the most spoiled people in the world. We can get just about anything, any time; here on the island, not so much. But when moving somewhere like this you need to be aware that many of the shops, which are small owner-run establishments, have half-day closing on Wednesdays and Saturdays, as well as all day on Sundays.
Remember your childhood scouting or guiding motto? Be prepared! If you are, then it isn’t a problem, merely an adjustment.
One of the many charms of Norfolk Island is that it forces you to relax and take life as it comes. Which is definitely not a bad thing. You don’t come here for the 24/7 mainland existence, so get used to it. Morla el do! (With apologies to island poet Archie Bigg.)
Go to the beach instead. We did!