Norfolk Island is where you can really immerse yourself in rich layers of history, culture, creative expression and nature. The tiny island is only 13.36 square miles, but it is filled with pristine nature, the charm and grace of a bygone era and plenty of opportunities for discovery and exploration. In the city of Kingston, you will get a healthy dose of Norfolk Island history. Kingston was the second settlement on the island and is now the administrative center.
The Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area earned the distinction of being named a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its rarity, beauty, historic significance and social value. The stunning historic townsite stretches across the island’s southern coast, bordering Emily Bay’s calm waters on one end and the pounding surf at the other.
The area’s colonial architectural gems hide its tragic past. In 1788, Kingston was settled, just weeks after the Australian mainland city of Sydney was born. Just over 20 settlers arrived on the island, including 15 convicts. This first group constructed various buildings and founded the settlement, but a second group arrived between 1825 and 1855, turning the island into the “Hell of the Pacific.” During that period, 1,200 convicts arrived on the island, toiled in labor camps and suffered the harshest of treatments. They also built most of the spectacular buildings that remain standing today.
The main street of Quality Row and the surrounding blocks are flanked with dozens of ruins and buildings that date from the 1790s through the 1850s. Visitors today can explore the Piper’s Boat Shed, the Marine Barracks, the Royal Engineers’ Office, the Old Military Barracks and the Officers’ Bath. Walking through the well-laid streets and small stone bridges is a true treat, and the area is the most charming in all of Kingston.
The Governor’s House sits nearby on Dove’s Plot Hill. Constructed in 1792, the mansion was rebuilt in 1828 and is Australia’s oldest standing and functioning vice-regal site.
The Norfolk Island National Park spreads through nearly one-third of the small island. Laced with walking trails ranging in difficulty from moderate to expert, the park puts visitors in touch with seemingly boundless nature. The most rewarding trek is to the peak of Mount Pitt, the island’s second-highest peak at 316 meters. The highest point, Mount Bates, reaches heights of just two meters higher. The track that takes visitors up to the summit actually links the two peaks and is an easy ridge-top walk.
If hiking is not your thing, you can also drive up to the summit to soak up the incredible views of the island. From the peaks, you really sense Norfolk Island’s isolation from the rest of the world. The closest other patch of earth is hundreds of miles away.
Other great hikes in Norfolk Island National Park include the Bird Rock Walk, which takes visitors on a winding trek through pine forest before revealing a stunning cliff at Bird Rock, and the Palm Glen circuit, which winds through forests of tree ferns and dense native palms. At the end of the trail, visitors are sweetly rewarded with magnificent views out toward Phillip Island.
Kingston Geographical Location
Kingston is located on the central southern coast of Norfolk Island and has an estimated population of 880 people.
English is the official language of Norfolk Island while Norfolk, which is a mixture of 18th century English and ancient Tahitian, is common.
Kingston Predominant Religion
- 46% Protestant
- 20% None
- 16.5% Unspecified
- 11.5% Roman Catholic
- 6% Other Christian
The inhabitants of Norfolk Island are Christian with little exception.
The official currency of Norfolk Island is the Australian Dollar.
It is usually rainy in Kingston with the coolest months being the rainiest. The temperatures are usually pleasant throughout the year, never becoming significantly hot or cold.
Kingston Main Attractions
- Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama
- Norfolk Island National Park
- Anson Bay
Other Attraction in Kingston
- Emily Bay
- St Barnabas Church