Norfolk Island Trip Report (surprisingly long) Part 1

Subject: Norfolk Island Trip Report (surprisingly long) Part 1
From: "Peter Ewin" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2005 20:38:14 +1000
Norfolk Island June 2005

Have just returned from a week on Norfolk Island (or as I liked to call it ?
the Island of the Living Dead). My wife and I had a great week, exploring
the convict ruins, exploring the National Park, eating generally good food
(the Hilli Café served the best restaurant meal I have had in years) and of
course bird-watching. Though June is possibly the worst month for seabirds,
I still achieved my target of 40 species, which, based on the many reports
within the Birding-Aus archives, was a reasonable number. Depending on which
taxonomy used this included seven Australian ticks and three world ticks
which was also pleasing. The hardest thing I found was picking calls of the
native species from the imitations done by Song Thrush, Starling and to a
lesser extent Blackbirds. With so few species to imitate, species such as
Whimbrel were often heard in the tops of the trees in the National Park.

We booked this trip in December and got a very good deal including airfare,
accommodation (Daydreamer Apartments about 5 minutes walk from the Botanic
Gardens), car hire and three tours for about $850 from Sydney. I tried to
book earlier (about April) but the discount airfare was unavailable, jacking
the price to over $1500 (I think). Unfortunately, Norfolk Island Jet went
broke while we away and though we got home, the Islanders were not
optimistic about the future of tourism, so similar deals may be rarer in the
future. The only other tour we did was to Phillip Island, which being
weather developed nearly didn?t happen. Strong south westerlies blew for the
first few days, raising big seas, and most days had some rain, though
temperatures were pretty mild. A car is essential, and I drove over 300
kilometres, though with a speed limit of 50km/h this only used 30 litres
(though at 1.57 a litre I wouldn?t like to drive on the island all the

I have written this report in two parts; the first is a say by day
itinerary, the second is the list of birds in order that they were sighted.
Names are as in my personal list, which is a bit of a mish-mash of various
lists, but I will include any relevant notes. Thanks to everyone else who
provided reports to Birding-Aus as they proved invaluable for potential
sites. I would highly recommend to anyone thinking of going to do the trip,
the birds, though few, are interesting and the history is interesting and
the people are really friendly. For the best seabirds I would recommend
November (based on Dion Hobcroft?s report and my own experiences on Lord
Howe Island).


Tue 31/5
Left Sydney at 2:15PM arrived at 6:15 (1.5 hour flight and 1.5 hour time
difference). Could just see Phillip Island in the dusk as we landed, but all
dark by the time we disembarked. After dinner drove to Kingston and up Mt.
Pitt, but no birds heard or seen.

Wed 1/6
Awoke early, walked up to the Botanic Gardens for a brief visit. We had a
free half day tour around the island, which included the west coast (Anson
Bay), 100 Acres Reserve and Kingston. Generally an advertisement for other
tours operated, but a good introduction to the island. My wife and I started
feeling fairly young at this stage (at 32 Cate is probably just under half
the average age of the tourists on the island, though this means that most
bush-walking is done without seeing another soul). We lunched at Kingston,
visited Point Hunter and Cascade briefly, and then I walked up to the
National Park as far as Hollow Pine. The Park on Mts Pitt and Bates
dominates the island, but is fairly small (about 400 hectares I think). It
is pretty amazing to see a forest dominated by Norfolk Island Pines, many
with green lichen draping from their branches.

Thur 2/6
Again walked to the Botanic Gardens, though this time I did the full loop.
After breakfast then walked from Mt. Pitt to Bird Rock, Captain Cook?s
Memorial, and back to Mt. Pitt (via Mt. Bates). A walk of about 8 kilometres
that took about 3.5 hours (we ignored the estimated times after a while as
they were about 1.3km/h). Up high the park is fairly pristine with few
weeds, though in sections Guava is fairly common. As you got towards the
coast, other weeds, particularly African Olive, can dominate the vegetation.
Outside the Park, much of the bush is dominated by weeds, with Hawaiian
Holly and Lantana being two of the more common. In the afternoon drove out
to Captain Cook?s Memorial, as well as Anson Bay, Puppy Point and around the
Airport. Attended the Mutiny on the Bounty show, which was free with the

Fri 3/6
This was our first attempt at visiting Phillip Island, but the seas were
still too big to go. Instead walked the 100 Acre Reserve to Rocky Point and
then up the Mt Bates track in the National Park. In the afternoon did the
Convict Tour which details the history of the buildings in the Kingston
area. Some great Georgian architecture, interesting stories about the penal
colony and a visit to the cemetery. Visited Captain Cook?s Memorial at
sunset, walked the western track to attempt to see owls and then checked out
the shearwater colony in 100 Acre Reserve after dark.

Sat 4/6
The seas were just calm enough to go to Phillip Island, but then the guide?s
boat wouldn?t start. In the end, probably for the better as the wind picked
up and it would have been pretty choppy coming back. Instead drove around
various spots such as Kingston, Point Hunter, Point Blackbourne and Bumboras
Reserve. In the afternoon visited the other end of the Red Rock trail,
including McLachlans Lane, and explored around the western parts of Cascade

Sun 5/6
Finally got to Phillip Island, travelling from Cascade so we got a good view
of the eastern parts of Norfolk Island as well. There was a reasonable swell
going, but the trip was short enough that neither of us felt unwell. Climbed
the island, with a few ropes at the bottom, then up Red Road, past the
volunteer?s hut (glad I didn?t have to lug all the gear up there) to
virtually the top (I wasn?t going to walk to Jacky-Jacky even if we were
allowed). The island is regenerating slowly, with some areas having
naturally sprouted pines from the last five that remained from before
rabbits were introduced. On the return trip stopped and looked at the
National Parks hut and the fisherman?s hut near the landing spot (you could
easily spend a few weeks in there). Even though there were relatively few
seabirds nesting on the island, it was well worth the visit, and I would be
keen to return in thirty years to see how things have regenerated. Didn?t do
much in the afternoon (too tired from waking around 6:45 each morning to see
if the trip was on) but went to Puppy Point to try and get some photos of
the sunset (but as usual was too cloudy).

Mon 6/6
Visited a few places that I hadn?t been to (Simon?s Water, Palm Glen and
Cockpit Waterfall) and a few that I had (Kingston, Point Hunter) to try and
add the elusive 40th species (successfully). Spent the afternoon in the
National Park at Mt Pitt taking photos, and in the evening went to Red Rock
Trail and also Mt Pitt and Hollow Pine to attempt again to see Morepork.

Tue 7/6
As we had to be at the airport by 10 to prepare for the plane, didn?t spend
much time birdwatching.

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