Norfolk Island, Australia History

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History[edit | edit source]

The first known settlers in Norfolk Island were East Polynesians but they were gone when Great Britain settled it as part of its 1788 settlement of Australia. The island served as a convict penal settlement from 6 March 1788 until 5 May 1855, except for an 11-year hiatus between 15 February 1814 and 6 June 1825, when it lay abandoned.

On 8 June 1856, permanent civilian residence on the island began when it was settled from Pitcairn Island. In 1914 the UK handed Norfolk Island over to Australia to administer as an external territory.

The evergreen Norfolk Island pine is a symbol of the island and is pictured on its flag. Native to the island, the pine is a key export for Norfolk Island, being a popular ornamental tree on mainland Australia.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

1774 - The first European known to have sighted and landed on the island was Captain James Cook
1788 - During the first year of the settlement, which was also called "Sydney" like its parent, more convicts and soldiers were sent to the island from New South Wales
1814 - 1825 The island was abandoned
1824 - The British government instructed the Governor of New South Wales, to occupy Norfolk Island as a place to send the worst description of convicts. Its remoteness, previously seen as a disadvantage, was now viewed as an asset for the detention of recalcitrant male prisoners
1847 - The British government began to wind down the second penal settlement, and the last convicts were removed to Tasmania in May 1855
1867 - The headquarters of the Melanesian Mission of the Church of England was established on the island. In 1920 the Mission was relocated from Norfolk Island to the Solomon Islands to be closer to the focus of population
1979 - Norfolk Island was granted limited self-government by Australia, under which the island elected a government that ran most of the island's affairs