Norfolk Island blues
Norfolk Island is the little known tax-haven where I spent the weekend with a bunch of travel agents.
I expected it to be pretty. What I didn’t expect was that it would be fascinating. There is so much to know about this 8km x 5km island due east of Ballina on the NSW North Coast.
Did you know that you have to either a) buy a business, b) marry an islander or c) be employed to do a job that noone else on the island can do in order to live there? This leads to some amusingly specific job ads such as, ‘Restaurant seeks Sous Chef that speaks fluent Spanish and plays the clarinet’.
Curiously, there is no tax system of any kind. NO ONE EVER PAYS TAX. One litre of Absolut Vodka is $21. It follows that Norfolk Island has the highest alcohol consumption of anywhere in the world. If you get caught drink driving, you are still allowed to drive but you are refused service at every pub and bottle shop for six months.
All the produce on the island has to be grown there because there is a blanket ban on the importation of fruit and vegetables (this is a biosecurity measure). Subsequently, the whole place looks like a modern day Garden of Eden. There are melon patches, papaya and avocado trees, self-sown tomato bushes and lettuce springing up beside front fences.
The island is completely overrun with cows (there is one specific breed called Norfolk Blue, among other more familiar species), geese, black-faced sheep and feral chickens. Chickens forage around World Heritage-listed convict sites like they own the place and the locals complain about the proliferation of wild roosters. Alarm clocks are unnecessary, it seems.
Tourism is the main industry and by all accounts, times are tough. The average visitor age is about 80 years old, meaning the tourists are not only thrifty (they nick bread rolls from the breakfast buffet for their lunches), but they also have special needs in terms of menu, accommodation and accessibility.
I have absolutely nothing against the oldies. I had a ball frolicking with the nannas at the Night as a Convict dinner. All I am saying is that there is so much more to Norfolk Island than wrinkly old-timers who arrived on the First Fleet.
There is ocean kayaking, bushwalking, mountain biking, Jazz in the Pines, the Rock and Roll Festival, scuba diving, snorkelling and a stunning day spa called Aurelia where you can recover from all that activity.
If you want to come down to earth from too much stress, partying and toxic living in the city, Norfolk Island is the perfect place to escape, breathe fresh air, drink pure rain water, eat organic food and get lots of sleep in absolute peace and harmony.
I am bewitched by the blues of the endless sea. Who wants to come back and chill out with me?