Returning to the Scene of the Crime


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Oceania » Australia » Norfolk Island
March 19th 2018
Published: March 19th 2018
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1969: is where it all began … but, for now, fast-forward 47 years, to 2016!



We were up early this particular morning – 5am – as Jen was picking us up at 6-30am to, very kindly, take us to the airport. Our flight wasn’t leaving until 9-50am but, we wanted to beat the traffic and to also give Jen a chance to get back to work without getting caught in the morning peak-hour.

We got a good run into the airport with Ted employing some of his famous short long-cuts (no – it’s not a mis-print – he’s good at these 😊 ) to avoid traffic along King George’s Road and also the M5 tunnel which, can be like a car park in peak times. Easily navigating Jen through the back streets of Greenacre, Wiley Park and Beverly Hills, we then only had to travel along King George’s Road for a short distance then onto Stoney Creek Road at Bexley, following the “old” way we used to go to the airport years ago, long before the M5 tunnel days. This was a good choice, for we managed to beat most of the peak-hour traffic.

Jen had us at the airport by 7-40am, in plenty of time for our flight and, as we had checked in online yesterday, all we had to do was to go to the Air New Zealand bag-drop counter and we were done, for today, (to quote, Ted 😊) we were returning to the scene of the crime – Norfolk Island.

We decided to go straight through Passport Control and Immigration and get some breakfast “on the other side”. Have to say (note to self for next time), there weren’t that many options – not as many as on the “outside” but, we did manage to find a snack. Ted had a steak, bacon and cheese pie (health food!) whilst I had, what I thought was going to be yoghurt and fruit which turned out to be yoghurt and soggy muesli. Somehow, I think something must have gotten lost in the translation by the Asian lady who served me. 😊

It had only been 4 months since we were last through Sydney airport and, things are always changing there. This time, we were through Passport Control and Immigration within minutes. Admittedly, it wasn’t Chinese New Year this time but, apart from that, they had implemented a new system whereby you no longer have to front the counter to have your passport checked by a Border Control officer.

Similar to when you arrive back into the country, you now place your passport face down into a console for processing, stand still to have your photo taken and, off you go. Walk on a little further, drop your outgoing passenger card into a see-through Perspex box and, that’s it! - you’re done!! 😊 Getting through security screening was an equally painless process this morning.

By now, it was around 8-40am which is when boarding began according to our boarding passes but, we had time so, finished our snack then continued on to Gate 28. (Still not Gate 1 but, closer than G59, like last time. 😊)

It was while we were having “breakfast”, that we got a text from Jen saying, “woo hoo!” as she was already back at the office and it was only 8-25am. 😊 She’d had a good run back through the city and, didn’t get held up at all. She had been saying that, once before, she had gone back the usual King George’s Road route at this time of the morning and it had taken her 2 hours to get to work! By going back through the city and over the Harbour Bridge this morning, only about 45 minutes - a dream run!

Our flight was to leave at 9-50am but, was delayed 20 minutes due to the crew not being able to arm the doors on the plane in preparation for departure because the cargo bay doors were still open as the baggage handlers were still fluffing around still loading passengers’ bags. Pushed away from the terminal at 10-12am with a 10-minute taxi to the small runway, finally had us away by 10-22am, a half-hour late.

We were flying on an Airbus A320 – seat configuration was 3 x 3 and, we were in seats 14E and 14F. Yesterday, when I checked in online, it appeared that we were unable to have the window and aisle seat (14D) which meant Ted would have had the middle seat, which neither of us like. Luckily, it turned out that the aisle seat was available once we boarded so, he ended up with what he wanted anyway. When I looked at the seating yesterday, this seat was showing as unavailable. Don’t know what happened there but, you can be lucky sometimes. 😊

Our plane was very flash – all decked out in black and white, (even the seats in the cabin were all black 😊). With the All Blacks livery on the outside, complete with the New Zealand symbol of the Silver Fern rising up the tail of the aircraft, we looked very stylish! 😊

We left Sydney on Air New Zealand flight NZ762, in cloudy skies and a few spots of rain but the weather soon cleared to sunny skies with some cloud, once we were airborne. About an hour out of Sydney, the First Officer announced that we were flying directly alongside Lord Howe Island and that those on the right-hand side of the aircraft, (that was us 😊 ) should get a good view. We might have, if we hadn’t been seated directly over the wing! 😊 All I got to see was a very small, pointy island, that looked a bit like a shark’s fin sticking up out of the water and, that was it! Guess that would have been Ball’s Pyramid, an offshore island of Lord Howe. So much for that view! 😊

We were flying at 10,671 mtrs (35,025ft) at 895kmh (554mph). Estimated time of arrival was 12-25pm. We must have picked up a bit of time as the flight was originally due to take around 2 and a half hours.

In-flight entertainment was organised all on-screen. Movies you had to pay for but, other TV shows, music and games etc, were all free. As far as I was concerned, the flight locator plotting our course, was the most entertaining. 😊 Anyway, it was only a short flight of a couple of hours so, it really didn’t matter all that much. For $10, you could upgrade to view unlimited movies on the whole route but, hardly worth it for the couple of hours that we were on board. Anyway, you’d be flat-out finishing most movies before it was time to land on this route.

There were no meals provided on board unless you had ordered a meal package with your ticket - something they didn’t make clear when announcing that the meal service was about to begin. What they should have said was that the meals were only available to those who had pre-ordered. The announcement indicated that you COULD order - not that it worried us at all. There again, we weren’t likely to starve to death in the couple of hours it was going to take us to get to Norfolk.

You could order snacks like bagels, pies (if they were available – and even then, it appeared that they only carry enough on board for those who have pre-ordered, with no extras), toasties, chips, chocolates, etc. You could order drinks, both alcoholic and soft but, all at a cost. The only things “free” on board were, complimentary tea, coffee and water!

It was now midday and only 26 minutes to go until we landed at Kingston, which is the capital of Norfolk Is.

Looking out the window as we were coming into land, it was a bit like coming home as I looked out on the familiar landscape of the island and its iconic Norfolk Island pine trees that cover this tiny dot in the Pacific.

Straight through Customs and Immigration and we were through to the outside world to begin our nostalgic adventure.

We were collected by the island’s shuttle service, a Toyota Cruiser mini-bus, that collected all of the passengers off the flight who were staying at the island’s many different hotels and apartments, etc.

We were staying at the Crest Apartments and, were the last to be dropped off at our destination by the shuttle. We were on holidays so, it didn’t matter to us how long it took, as we just sat back and enjoyed the journey, reminiscing a little as we went..

Checking in at the Crest Apartments, we were soon sorted with our apartment and also our hire car for the next 10 days.

Our apartment was fairly basic but, clean and comfortable with everything we needed and set in lovely lawns and gardens with the most spectacular view over Nepean and Phillip Islands from the barbecue area just front of us. Wood barbecues were available, with a supply of small bits of wood stacked nearby. TV on the island was all the Aussie channels we were used to at home.

We were about 5k's from "town" and had a Hyundai Accent car to run around in - a bit flasher than we were expecting, I must say - and, a lot more upmarket, and larger, than the Fiat 500 we had 47 years ago. 😊

It took us a while to get the technology sorted out on the island as, even though Norfolk is an Australian Territory, our mobiles didn’t work here under our normal phone plans. Instead, we had to get a $20 Norfolk Telecom Sim card (pre-paid that you can top up) if we wanted to have the use of our mobile phones whilst on Norfolk. Also our normal mobile wi-fi broadband that we brought from home, didn’t work either, even though, I had checked with Telstra before leaving home and was assured, that both would do so. Do your homework Telstra employees – because, neither works on the island! Instead, you will have to buy a wi-fi hotspot voucher for $25 (1GB) or $40 (2GB) – which both are valid for 6 months - if you want to have internet access during your holiday.

Being summertime and also the cyclone season, the same as back home in Oz, temperatures were similar, being 25 deg when we arrived, with a lovely sea breeze still blowing at 9-15pm. We really didn’t want to have to shut the front door when we went to bed though as, that was the direction that the breeze was coming from.

We very quickly discovered that, food particularly, is very expensive on Norfolk, ie middle rashers of bacon at $20 per kg (didn't buy any) and a dozen eggs - $6, which were the cheaper alternative at the butcher's rather than at the supermarket, for $8-20. 😊 We were rather glad that we had several dinners included whilst we would be on the island. 😊 We also soon discovered that (mostly) it was cheaper to eat out than to self-cater except for breakfast for convenience sake.

Earlier on, after we had gotten ourselves settled and had picked up our car, we had gone on a little recce around the island to familiarise ourselves again after the 47 years since we had last been there. Finding the Polynesian Motel in New Cascade Road, we could say that, this is where it all began 47 years ago.

For me, (Jan), I must say, I really don't remember much about the island from previously, except that the township of Burnt Pine (the only township), now has a lot more shops than previously but, is still no metropolis, “Max's Duty Free", is still there in the A-frame building; cows still have right of way all over the island and it will cost you $200 if you hit one in your car and that the island scenery is still just as spectacular. 😊

Norfolk Island was a penal colony back in the mid-1800’s. It was one of the worst places that a convict could be sent to and struck fear into the hearts and minds of all of those who were unfortunate enough to be sent there. The island has a long and bloody past and was equally as feared as Port Arthur or Sarah Island in Tasmania, or worse. Norfolk Is. was chosen because of its remoteness and isolation where no prisoners could escape from and, served as a penal colony for 30 years. It was abandoned in 1856.

Seem like an odd place for a honeymoon? …. 😊

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23rd March 2018

An odd place for a honeymoon?
Maybe not! After all you never want to escape the joy and rapture of those honeymoon days!! That said, we've never been to Norfolk Island so thanks for reminding me that it's somewhere to go one day. Although by the sound of it, things won't change there much in the meantime. A good place to go to write a book! Certainly it worked for Colleen McCullough although I think it was love too that saw her move there. That honeymoon theme again!!
23rd March 2018

Norfolk Re-visited ...
Back in '69, no-one went overseas very much for holidays, let alone honeymoons, as air travel was rather expensive and not the norm in those days. So, I guess, you could say, that we we broke the mould, somewhat, in that regard Back then, most honeymooners headed north to the Gold Coast/Qld - usually by car and caravan. This was quite often the introduction to married life for the newly married couple. :) More to follow on this adventure so, watch this space ... :)
23rd March 2018

Time travel from 1968 to 2016
I've always been curious about this Island so eager to follow along. Always lots of history.
26th March 2018

Norfolk Re-visited ...
Ted and I always said that we would go back one day. Loads of history there and a delightful place to visit. Quite a few things have changed in 47 years but, the warm island hospitality, still just as welcoming. :) Thanks for dropping in. Great to chat and finally get to "meet" you at our TB virtual lunch recently. Dave & Denise - always the perfect hosts. It was a most enjoyable afternoon among like-minded friends. J xx
26th March 2018

Norfolk Re-visited ...
Ted and I always said that we would go back one day. Loads of history there and a delightful place to visit. Quite a few things have changed in 47 years but, the warm island hospitality, still just as welcoming. :) Thanks for dropping in. Great to chat and finally get to "meet" you at our TB virtual lunch recently. Dave & Denise - always the perfect hosts. It was a most enjoyable afternoon among like-minded friends. J xx

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