Colonisation

In a remarkably short eight days, King had completed all arrangements and H.M.S. 'Supply' sailed out into the vast South Pacific Ocean on a thousand mile journey to an island measuring five miles by three.

Norfolk Island was sighted at 11 a.m. on the 29th of February and for five days the vessel sailed to different points around the coast, endeavouring to find a place to land. Just six weeks earlier, the great French explorer, La Perouse, had found landing behond him. He described it as a place fit only for 'angels and eagles' Lieutenant King began to share this view.

Faced everywhere with sur-lashed cliffs up to 300 feet high, he managed to secure a toe-hold at a couple of spots but found nowhere suitable for the landing of a large party. Eventually, at a spot King named Sydney Bay, his Ship's Master discovered a channel through the reef sufficiently wide to allow the passage of the larger launches, the longboat and the pinnace.

The First Settlement was not designed as a mere dumping ground for convicts. These were the forerunners of a community which, it was fondly hoped, would fashion masts of pine and sails of flax. They were also to turn Norfolk into a garden which would feed the struggling, barren settlement back in Australia. Nevertheless, an extreme measure was enforced to ensure there would be no escape: the Governor of New South Wales forbade the building on Norfolk of any vessel longer than twenty feet. It was probably a baroque worry. To reach New Caledonia in the north, the escapees would have needed to navigate over about 400 miles. South-east, to New Zealand, was over 500 miles. And due West, to the spot where Byron Bay stands today, stretched 900 miles of trackless ocean.

Norfolk Island History in Detail

Colonisation
Early Days
The 'Bounty' Connection
Tahiti
Seeds of Mutiny
Eruption
The Open Boat Journey
Starvation on Norfolk
Fate of the Bounty Mutineers
The Noble Savages
Second Settlement
Hell in Paradise
Pitcairn to Norfolk