|List||National Heritage List|
|Legal Status||Listed place (01/08/2007)|
|Place File No||9/00/001/0036|
|Summary Statement of Significance|
KAVHA on Norfolk Island is
associated with three distinct (European) settlement periods: the convict era
referred to as the First and Second Settlements from 1788-1814 and from 1825-1855
respectively; and the Pitcairn period from 1856 to the present, referred to as
the Third Settlement. KAVHA is also
important for its association with pre-European Polynesian occupation.
KAVHA is an outstanding convict settlement that spans the era of convict transportation to Eastern Australia between 1788 and 1855. It is a place which has the capacity to demonstrate differing penal systems, changes in penal philosophy and the principal characteristics of a long standing penal settlement.
Norfolk Island was proclaimed a British possession on 6 March 1788, six weeks after the arrival of the First Fleet at Port Jackson. The settlement faced starvation and the decision in 1790 to send a third of the population to Norfolk Island ensured the survival of the settlement and therefore played an important role in the development of the colony of New South Wales. KAVHA is significant for its association with Lieutenant Philip Gidley King who was responsible for establishing the First Settlement on KAVHA. There are significant archaeological remains of buildings and activities associated with the First Settlement.
KAVHA was reopened as a penal colony in 1825 in response to the need by the British Government to reinforce the idea that transportation was a punishment to be feared. The Second Settlement operated until 1855 and an outstanding collection of Georgian buildings, extensive archaeological remains, engineering works and landscaping are still in evidence from that time. The planning and operation of a nineteenth century penal settlement is clearly discernible.
During the Second Settlement, KAVHA gained a reputation as ‘hell in paradise’ for its brutal and sadistic treatment of inmates. It is an outstanding example of the severe punishment of convicts. Its reputation spread beyond the colonies to Britain and fuelled the anti-transportation debate. It is however also the site of experiments in convict reformation and recognised for its association with Alexander Maconochie, who formulated and applied most of the principles of modern penology while on Norfolk Island.
KAVHA is highly valued for its aesthetic qualities with the place and its setting being unimpacted by subsequent development. It is an evocative and picturesque historical landscape where the domestic scale and agricultural character of the setting is in marked contrast to the horror of the past signified by the convict ruins.
KAVHA is also valued for its Third Settlement period, as a distinctive place where a Polynesian/European community has lived and practised their cultural traditions since 1856. It is significant for its ongoing associations with Pitcairn Islanders.
The rich and varied of history of KAVHA contributes to its potential to yield important information about the living and working conditions of convicts. The place also has the potential to yield significant information on pre-European Polynesian culture, exploration and settlement patterns.
Kingston and Arthurs
Vale Historic Area (KAVHA) is situated on the southern side of Norfolk Island
Bay. Referred to as KAVHA
it is a cultural landscape which includes an agrarian landscape (Arthurs Vale, Watermill valley and the northern hillsides)
and the settled coastal plain at Kingston.
Hills to the north and west fringe the settlement on the coastal plain. Roads
provide ways through KAVHA, linking the groups of structures, access to the
landing place, the foreshore, the cemetery and bridges. The Kingston
plain is Norfolk’s
only coastal plain area with beach, dune and a coral edged lagoon. |
The convict barracks and gaol were located on the foreshore. Swampy land separated the convict accommodation from the military and civil accommodation arranged on the inland side of the coastal flat while a succession of Government houses were positioned in commanding locations. The many surviving buildings at the site reflect these arrangements.
The cleared nature of the landscape, along with the siting and orientation of important buildings are an explicit demonstration of the settlement and penal philosophy of the British Empire in colonial Australia, being designed to provide for the continual surveillance of convicts and allow for agricultural requirements. Modification to the landscape through earthworks to facilitate the construction of buildings or protect agricultural plots (the 'causeway') and the large scale quarrying of limestone and the coral reef, illustrate attitudes to landscape based primarily on its value as a resource. Surviving evidence also illustrates aspects of design and process from the First and Second Settlements. This includes the remnant serpentine landscape and ornamental garden of Government House, the formal streetscape qualities of Quality Row, and evidence of communications through maintaining visual links and operation of a semaphore system. Evidence from the Third Settlement period is the introduction of new plant species, swamp drainage works, memorial plantings and reforestation to address erosion on the hill slopes.
KAVHA is rare, being the site of, and probably containing extensive archaeological evidence of the earliest European settlement from Australia to the south-west Pacific (1788), similar in size for a decade to the other initial settlement at Sydney Cove. Its significance is enhanced by the lack of substantial subsequent development. It contains areas and individual elements that are confirmed or well documented sites of First Settlement buildings and activities (1788-1814). The subsurface archaeological remains of the first and second Government Houses (1788-1803) are, along with First Government House Sydney (1788-1847), the oldest government house sites in Australia.
The concentration and intactness of fabric is considered rare. The intact layout, form and fabric of the place illustrate the patterns of human occupation, ways of life, and perceptions and values of the landscape, and accumulative impact of Europeans on a pristine natural environment (Australian Construction Services, 1994).
KAVHA is significant for its richness of settlement history and array of extant features. It contains areas, buildings and other elements of outstanding individual cultural significance including Government House (1829), one of the earliest and most intact remaining government house buildings in Australia, along with Old Government House Parramatta, and the Old Military Barracks (now the Legislative Assembly and Norfolk Island Court) (1829). The Old Military Barracks, together with the Commissariat Store and the New Military Barracks (now Norfolk Island Government Administration offices) (1836), form a group of buildings which is the most substantial military barracks complex in Australia dating from the 1830s. The Commissariat Store (now All Saints Church) (1835) is one of the finest remaining colonial (pre 1850) military commissariat stores in Australia along with that at Darlington (Tasmania). The soldiers' barracks is one of the finest military barrack buildings built in Australia in the nineteenth century.
There are nine houses providing quarters for military and civil officers (1832-47). Other features include: perimeter walls and archaeological remains of Prisoners' Barracks (1828-48) including the Protestant Chapel; perimeter walls and archaeological remains of the New Prison (Pentagonal Prison) (1836-40, 1845-57); ruins of the hospital, built on First Settlement remains (1829); the Surgeon's Quarters and Kitchen (1827) on the site of First Settlement Government House, one of the earliest European dwellings in Australia; the Landing Pier (1839-47) built over the First Settlement landing place and sea wall, two of the earliest remaining large scale engineering works in Australia; Beach store (1825); Settlement Guardhouse (1826) on the foundations of First Settlement building; Crankmill (1827-38), the remains of the only known human powered crankmill built in Australia before 1850; Royal Engineer's office and stables (1850); Double Boat Shed (1841); Police Office, now boatshed (1828-29); Flaghouse (1840s); Constable's Quarters, partly standing (1850-53); Blacksmith's Shop (1846); Salt House (1847); and Windmill base (1842-43).
The Cemetery has an outstanding collection of headstones and other remains dating from the earliest period of European settlement, including the first and second penal settlement periods and the Pitcairn period with associations with the Bounty, set in an evocative and picturesque historical landscape. Many stone walls, wells, drains, building platforms, bridges, culverts, roads, quarry sites, privies and archaeological sites of former buildings are important remains. These include Bloody Bridge. The remnant serpentine landscape is an outstanding example of colonial period (pre-1850) attitudes to landscape design in Australia which reflected contemporary English attitudes to landscape design.
The place is particularly infamous as one of two places of secondary punishment within the Australian colonies (the other being Port Arthur). Its reputation was renowned throughout the British Empire to act as a deterrent to further convict crime in the colonies. It is also associated with an experiment in penal reform in the NSW colony which underpinned modern approaches to penal practice internationally. It has an association with Australia's founding and early personalities such as King, Hunter, Foveaux, Wentworth, Anderson, Maconochie, Price and Cash. It is also associated with the 1790 wreck of HMS Sirius, the flagship of the First Fleet and the only sizable warship available to defend the colony which was about to sail to China to obtain desperately needed food supplies for the colony at Sydney Cove (Australian Construction Services, 1994).
The place is rich in aesthetic qualities due to the combination of spatial structure, visual quality and the strong relationship between built elements and their setting. Apart from visual quality, the places is a rich source of other sensory stimuli; the sounds, tastes and textures are all products of the friction wrought between such natural elements as wind, water and sun. Oceanic influences render the natural lighting of the place very changeable over a day, and dramatise the scene. The combination of cultural expression, natural forces and their resultant patterns enable a perception and interpretation of the place as a 'picturesque' and 'romantic' landscape made up of a number of elements including natural/built edges, sea/landscape vistas, gardens, rural pastures, cleared hills and formal plantings (Australian Construction Services, 1994).
The Sirius wreck (1790) remains on the seabed off the reef in Slaughter Bay. The first anchor raised was in 1903. Artefacts have been recovered from the wreck, some of which form part of the collection housed in the Norfolk Island Museum. The artefact collection, in combination with a detailed written record, has outstanding research potential for information about the lives of the bond and free in the early convict period. Other relics, including two of the Sirius anchors are on the mainland. The large anchor is displayed in Macquarie Place, Sydney and another is in the Maritime Museum in Sydney.
The low-lying land of KAVHA is generally composed of calcarenite, a limestone formed of cemented cross-bedded calcareous sand, the remnants of a formerly much more extensive coral formation (Tropman and Tropman 1994). The dunes behind Emily Bay and Cemetery Beach contain a number of small fossil and sub-fossil deposits of recent age (between 450 and 7 000 years BP). These sites have yielded some fossilised vertebrate bones, remains of several land snail species that are now considered to be extinct or extremely rare, and fossilised seeds and logs of the Norfolk Island Pine (Tropman and Tropman 1994; Anderson and White 2001; DEH 2005). These fossils provide evidence of plant and animal life that existed on Norfolk Island before human occupation.
Most of KAVHA has been cleared and the original vegetation severely modified. Tropman and Tropman (1994) describe it as dominated by Kikuyu grass and note that while the sheltered gullies contain some remnant ferns, mixed hardwoods and white oaks, they have been colonised by weed species such as olives and lantana. KAVHA may still support a small population of a rare landsnail (Mathewsoconcha suteri).
Norfolk Island, at the time of Cook's discovery in 1774, was
uninhabited with no outward evidence of the Island's
having been previously occupied. Evidence indicating that Norfolk
Island had been inhabited prior to the European occupation in 1788
was recognised in the first year of settlement by Lieutenant Governor King.
Plantain bananas were found growing in Arthur's Vale, suggesting human
intervention. By 1791, stone tools had been discovered in the interior of the Island providing further proof of former habitation. In
the 1840s a skull and ‘stone axe’ were found during earthworks. Through the
twentieth century, evidence of stone tool making in the form of adze blanks and
basalt flakes were found at Emily Bay, and later, similar adzes were found at both Emily
and Slaughter Bays within KAVHA. Archaeological
investigations have unearthed artefact assemblages, structural remains which
have been interpreted as a rudimentary marae (a religious structure commonly
encountered in East Polynesia) and evidence of landscape modifications in the
Emily Bay area. The assemblage is characteristic of East Polynesian culture.
Radiocarbon dates indicate Polynesian settlement between AD 1200 and AD 1600
(White and Anderson 1999). |
Cook had particularly noted the tall, straight spruce pines which grew in large numbers to a vast size. He observed they would be superior to the pines he saw in New Zealand and New Caledonia and would make excellent masts and yards for large ships. He also noted the luxuriant native flax plant which would be suitable for rope making and weaving into canvas. This source of potential naval supplies appealed to the Admiralty, as Britain had lost its North American colonies and their supplies of Quebec pine in 1783 following the American War of Independence (1776-1783). Although Britain had access to Canada’s forests timber getting was only practicable near waterways, and consequently, it had fallen back on the Baltic region as its principal source of ship building timbers.
Arthur Phillip's instructions for the settlement of New South Wales included a directive that Norfolk Island was to be settled and secured as soon as possible after landing at Botany Bay. The intention was to prevent any other European power from occupying the island, to secure the naval supplies available on the island, to take advantage of the rich, deep soil reported by Cook and to quickly establish vegetable and grain crops to supplement the settlement at Sydney Cove. In accordance with this directive, Phillip despatched the tender Supply from Port Jackson on 15 February 1788 with Lieutenant Philip Gidley King and a party of nine male and six female convicts and seven staff to establish a settlement on the island. Supply arrived at Norfolk Island on 29 February 1788 and for five days boat parties under the direction of King explored the coastline seeking a suitable landing place. On the 5th of March, a passage was found through the reef on the southern side of the island. Norfolk Island was settled by Europeans on 6th March 1788, forty days after the British flag was raised at Port Jackson.
Phillip issued King with a series of orders indicating the manner in which the settlement would be regulated. These included that shelter for the landing party and stores should be secured immediately and the capabilities of the island assessed. The flax plant, cotton, corn and other grains were to be grown and convicts were to labour for the public good. Isolation of the settlement was to be maintained by preventing the construction of boats that were decked or exceeded twenty feet in length, and no commerce was to be conducted with passing ships except those in distress.
The First Settlement at Norfolk Island (1788-1814) was organised along similar lines to its mainland counterpart in New South Wales and men and women settlers were allowed. By late 1789 the colony at Sydney Cove was experiencing food shortages due to poor crop yields and the Second Fleet which was to bring additional stores for the colony had not arrived as expected. Governor Phillip had reduced the food ration to two-thirds and instructed King to do likewise on Norfolk Island. Although the settlement on the island had an ample food supply having successfully produced crops of maize, wheat, barley, potatoes and green vegetables plus having raised livestock consisting of pigs and poultry which had increased in number, and having access to a plentiful supply of local fish, King followed Phillip’s orders and in November 1789 reduced the food ration for the island’s population of 126 (Clune 1981:23). As the food shortages worsened at Port Jackson and in response to the reports from Norfolk Island that food supplies were plentiful, Governor Phillip resolved to move a sizable number of the convicts and marines to the island using the two ships that had remained at Sydney Cove to service the new colony, the HMS Sirius and the smaller armed tender HMS Supply. Some 281 people, about one-third of the population of the Port Jackson colony, were relocated to Norfolk Island leaving 591 persons at Port Jackson (Clune 1981:24). In this period Phillip also instigated a policy of sending convicts serving life sentences and the intractable among the convict population to Norfolk Island, commencing the island’s reputation as a hell in paradise. It was also convenient for Phillip to rid himself of the more troublesome officers in the colony by posting them to Norfolk Island. The combination of difficult officers and recalcitrant prisoners shaped the destiny of the small colony on Norfolk Island.
Tragedy struck the infant island settlement on 19 March 1790 when HMS Sirius with 373 aboard, including a crew of 102 naval personnel, 161 convicts, 25 children and 31 marines was wrecked on the reef off Kingston, fortunately all on board were saved (Clune 1981:25). The loss of this valuable warship was not only a significant loss to New South Wales because as the larger of the two ships stationed at Sydney Cove it was detailed to proceed from Norfolk Island to China to obtain food supplies for the hungry settlement at Sydney Cove, but also the sudden increase in the population of Norfolk Island placed an enormous burden on the island’s food supplies. The native birds on the island, the ‘Bird of Providence’, a species of petrel (Pterodroma solandri), saved the settlement from a severe food shortage. Lieutenant Ralph Collins recorded that more than 170,000 of these birds were received into the stores between March and August 1790 (Knaggs 2006:75).
King listed the island’s population on 24 March 1790 as 90 civil, military and free, 80 from the Sirius (survivors of the shipwreck), 191 male convicts, 100 female convicts and 37 children, a total population of 498; a fourfold increase in the population in four months. By 1792 Norfolk Island had taken more than 1,100 people from the settlement at Port Jackson (Crowley (1974). During most of the period conditions on the island were probably better than in NSW. By 1804 the free settlers on the island significantly outnumbered the convicts. A general muster on 12 July 1804 counted 1,084 inhabitants including 136 civil and military, 240 free men, 146 free women, 211 male convicts, 40 female convicts and 311 children (Clune 1981:73).
Children were a part of the settlement from its commencement. Some were the children of the military and officials sent to the island while others were the children of convicts and some, convicts themselves. In March 1789 the first known children of the First Fleet arrived to settle on Norfolk Island. One was an orphan, Edward Parkinson aged four and the other, Mary Fowles, aged around six years who was sent there as a means of separating her from her mother. The latter had been described by Judge-Advocate Collins as ‘a woman of abandoned character’. The children had been designated as ‘public wards’ by Captain Phillip who had allocated the produce from five acres to sustain them. Their transfer to Norfolk Island appears to have been considered an act of philanthropic exile from the unsuitable environment of Port Jackson (Holden 1999:145).
The experiences of children arriving on Norfolk Island is captured in the experiences of some of the children who landed on the island on 13 March 1790 from Sirius. Their first brush with death occurred on 6 March when Sirius was nearly wrecked on North Head as it cleared Port Jackson. On arrival at Norfolk Island it was impossible to land on the south side of the island at the settlement because of pounding surf and Sirius sailed to the north of the island where the marines and some convicts were put ashore at Cascade. Following the landing of the marines, a boatload of women and children was sent ashore, however, as they landed the sea broke into the boat causing great alarm. Surviving that frightening experience they had to sleep in the open before commencing the eight kilometre trek across a very rough road to Kingston. Sirius put to sea because of deteriorating conditions and six days later when she was able to again approach Kingston and commence unloading, she was wrecked. The loss of Sirius and her stores compounded the children’s ordeal as in the following May short rations were introduced on the island and children over twelve months old received half the adult ration with further reductions in July and August. At the beginning of 1790 most of the children from the First Fleet were under six years of age. Although they were young they were necessary helpers in foraging for food. They supplemented their meagre rations with edible wild plants and pine nuts, may have helped their mothers drying out the flour and rice from the Sirius, gathered firewood and thatch and prepared the cleared acreage for planting. Towards the end of that first difficult year it is also likely they helped pick caterpillars off the crops (Holden 1999:148).
Life on the island under Major Ross’s period as Commandant (March 1790 –November 1791) witnessed a general breakdown of discipline and authority. Evidence of this is a number of incidents involving children including a marine who had already been sentenced for raping a nine-year old girl committed the same crime again, a convict boy of 14 being given 13 lashes for stealing and an incident involving Ross’s own son, who was about nine years of age and by then a second lieutenant, when he became embroiled in an argument among the officers. The situation for children improved greatly when Lt King returned to take command of the island in December 1791. He established a school and orphanage and appointed a woman to care for the children, some of whom had been deserted by their parents, and to instruct them. King also established a fund to care for the orphans (Holden 1999:153).
Most of the clearing and the resultant changes to the natural environment at Kingston occurred during this period; the cleared lands were very fertile but heavy erosion occurred on the hills, and low lying areas silted up. Foveaux’s records of March 1804 show that the area under cultivation was 2,140 acres with another 2,450 acres of allocated land that was officially regarded as ‘waste’ in the hands of settlers. The latter may well have been used for grazing rather than the cultivation of crops (CMP, 2002). The native pines which Cook recommended as a source of masts and spars for naval vessels had proved unsatisfactory for that role because it was a knotty timber lacking in turpentine sap, however, it did prove suitable for general building purposes. The native flax which also had initially attracted Cook’s attention proved difficult to process, probably because the plant was seed flax (linseed) which has a poor fibre content and not fibre flax (Britts, 1980:37). However, by 1796 small quantities of No 7 grade sailmakers canvas were being produced (Edgecombe, 1991:17). About one third of the island was cleared during the first settlement period. Farms were scattered across the island and abundant remains of cultivation survived to be recognised on resettlement in 1825.
The settlement was centred on Kingston, then called Sydney, adjacent to the Landing Place which provided the most sheltered landing available to shipping. Arthurs Vale (Watermill Valley) and Stockyard Valley (Town Creek area) were used for agriculture. Two smaller settlements, Queensborough and Phillipsburg were established elsewhere on the Island and King initiated major works including the building of lime kilns at Kingston, a watermill, a windmill at Point Hunter (1795) and a large dam built downstream on Watermill Creek. In the main, convict housing at Kingston was thatched weatherboard huts. The first guard house built of brick was constructed in 1789 and another brick guard house was commenced in 1790 with four cells being added in 1794. It also contained a ‘dark hole’, a wooden structure, most probably built of logs, which was a chamber for punitive confinement. The precise date it was built is unknown, however, records indicate it was built prior to 1793 (Kerr, 1984:17).
A weatherboard house was built for King, with a separate dwelling to house the surgeon and midshipman in April and May 1788. The houses had excavated cellars for the secure storage of the settlement’s provisions and a storehouse was built (Knaggs 2006:73). With the increasing number of convicts on the island, a growing number of whom were intractable characters, King improved the security of the settlement at Kingston by erecting a stockade around the Superintendent’s House and the Commandant’s House leaving sufficient space within the enclosure for the later erection of a barracks for the marines. The use of the adjacent Nepean Island as a place of confinement for the most recalcitrant prisoners was commenced in 1791. This practise of placing prisoners on an isolated island with little or no supplies and no housing was intended to break even the most hardened of the convicts and was used in the colonies for 40 years. Coal Island at Kingston (later Newcastle) in 1804 and Grummet Island (in the 1820s and early 1830s) at the notorious Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania were other places where this practice was adopted (Kerr, 1984:16).
Construction of the first gaol and adjoining penitentiary house at Kingston were commenced in 1791 with the gaol being enlarged and enclosed with railings in 1792. This structure was destroyed by a cyclone in May 1794 and the prisoners were then housed in the overseer’s stone house which was used as a gaol until a new stone gaol was built in 1801-02 (Kerr, 1984:18). The majority of convicts were accommodated in huts with only the worst offenders and those who had re-offended being housed in the small gaol. After the re-occupation of the island in 1825, the gaol was rebuilt and reused as a gaol at least until the new pentagonal prison was opened in 1848 (Kerr, 1984:21).
Following the discovery in 1791 that the calcarenite was a form of limestone suitable for rendering into lime by burning, King set men to work experimenting with lime and brick making. With the possibility of making bricks for the settlement, King commenced the construction of a new Government House with a commanding position (Knaggs 2006:76). However, as the materials used were at best ‘tolerable’ the walls were completed in stone. In January 1792 an area was cleared on Mount George as the site for a signal house to ensure adequate semaphore visibility for ships lying off Sydney Bay.
By May 1793 Kingston had the appearance of a small but organised village with four main streets in the settlement. By 1794 a fifth, Pitt Street had been laid out east of Sirius Street. Further buildings were constructed or altered including a school house, stone granary bake-house and it appears that a play house was built.
King’s second term of office as Lieutenant Governor finished on 22 October 1796. Views by Chapman drawn in 1796 show the appearance of Kingston at the end of King’s tenure. It has been estimated that with almost 45% of the island’s 8 528 acres allocated, the island had already been: 'dramatically and permanently changed from an impenetrable wilderness to a largely cleared land' (Knaggs 2006:79).
A number of riots and uprisings occurred during the First Settlement period, including two organised convict insurrections. On both occasions the convict conspirator’s plans were betrayed by convict informers. One occurred during Lieutenant Governor King’s first term as governor and the other during Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Foveaux’s term. The first incident involved a plan in January 1789 when all but three of the 50 convicts on the island conspired to seized King with the intention of holding him hostage and take control of the next ship that arrived to escape from the island. The plot was uncovered and the leaders were placed in irons and had their ground confiscated. The ring leader was returned to Port Jackson to stand trial, but as the insurrection had not been implemented, no trial took place (Nobbs 1988:103-4).
The second planned insurrection, uncovered in December 1800 was to have more brutal and serious repercussions for the convicts. The plot was initiated by Irish prisoners, many of whom had been re-transported from Port Jackson during periods of fear of the Irish. The plan was betrayed by an Irish convict, Henry Gready, who was serving a life sentence for rape. On the evening Foveaux had the two alleged leaders Peter McLean and John Wolloughlan summarily executed, and over the next twenty days conducted a systematic course of floggings. The informers alleged that the plan had been to murder all those not involved in the uprising and Foveaux’s pre-emptory action was later endorsed by his superiors in Port Jackson and England. The precedent of no charge and trial which was set after Norfolk’s first aborted insurrection, was not followed. Gready subsequently received a pardon and Foveaux was thereafter referred to as ‘the murderer’ by many of the convicts (Nobbs 1899:104).
In contrast to the planned convict insurrections, a military strike took place in January 1794. It resulted from a number of incidents revolving around interactions between the military guard and convicts and culminated on 18 January when Lieutenant Governor King attended a play to mark the sovereign’s birthday and was incensed by the behaviour of several soldiers. On his way home after the play the Lieutenant Governor intervened to prevent soldiers armed with bayonets from assisting one of their number who was involved in a brawl. Later in the night the brawl threatened to become a mutiny. It was a traditional 18th century military dispute arising spontaneously from the clash between civil and military authorities, sharpened by the involvement of convicts and a naval governor (Nobbs 1988:91-92).
When King returned as Governor of New South Wales in 1800 to relieve Governor Hunter he took steps to ensure the continuing development of the settlement of Norfolk Island. He immediately appointed Major Foveaux as Lieutenant Governor who found the settlement buildings in a neglected state and initiated a renewed building program. Work on a new Government House was commenced in 1803 on Dove Hill. As early as the late 1790s the Home Office had been questioning the viability of the settlement, then in June 1803, Lord Hobart decided to remove part of the settlement to Van Diemen’s Land. The cost of up-keeping the settlement on Norfolk Island, its distance from Port Jackson and the lack of a safe anchorage were the principal factors underpinning the decision. By 1806 when the evacuation of the island was ordered the population was around 700, the majority of whom were free settlers. The island’s population reached it highest numbers in 1792, peaking at 1 156 in May of that year (Nobbs, 1988:5). The convict percentage of the population remained above 50 percent from the settlement’s commencement in 1788 until mid 1893 and did not fall below the 30 percent level until May 1801. Foveaux discussed the decline in population with King when in Sydney in 1803. King favoured a reduced but permanent settlement on the island while Foveaux considered it unviable and advocated its abandonment. By September 1808 there were only 250 people on the island and by April 1810 this number had declined to 177 of whom 98 were free person, 53 soldiers and 26 convicts. The free settlers were gradually relocated to Van Diemen’s Land where some settled on the Norfolk Plains near Longford and others at New Norfolk on the Derwent. The last of the settlers left the island in 1814 when all the habitable buildings were ordered destroyed.
During the First Penal Settlement many of the earthworks evident today were carried out to modify and control the landscape. This was done for agriculture, roads and to create platforms for building. Roads were created up the Flagstaff Hill ridge, along the north side of Flagstaff Hill and into Arthur’s Vale, up the ridgeline in the vicinity of Middlegate Road and along Soldiers Gully. In some locations these roads have been obscured by later roads but in others the formation remains in the landscape.
The First Penal Settlement was constructed surrounding the landing place. Little above ground evidence remains of most of these structures which were probably constructed of ephemeral materials, in particular, wattle and grass or a vernacular form of weatherboarding. The destruction, including burning, of the township at the close of the First Settlement obliterated these buildings. Traces of the foundations of these buildings survive in the archaeological evidence. Erosion of the foreshore areas over time has contributed to the loss of evidence.
Archaeological remains of the first and second Government Houses and their surroundings remain behind the Landing Place and can be partially seen to the rear of the Second Settlement Surgeon’s Quarters (now Lions Club). Artefacts from the excavations of these sites are held by the archaeological museum. The current Government House contains vestiges of the third Government House constructed for Foveaux c. 1803 but destroyed on closure of the First Settlement in 1814. The extent of survival of the walls of the earlier structure has not been fully determined, however, the structure is thought to have survived to approximately window head height. The chimneys are also thought to have survived. Some First Settlement structures are incorporated in the Second Settlement buildings including the Double Boat Shed, the Settlement Guardhouse, and possibly the Surgeon’s Kitchen.
Places within KAVHA where there is considerable archaeological potential for evidence of the First Settlement include:
- In the vicinity of Kingston Pier and the Landing Area;
- Beneath the site of the Prisoner’s Compound and Lumberyard (First Penal Settlement hospital, surgeon’s quarter’s and hospital garden);
- Emily Bay (series of buildings, one labelled 'Beachmaster' on early plans);
- Cutting into Flagstaff Hill (possible First Settlement drains);
- The site of the First Penal Settlement timberyard and sawpits is yet to be determined;
- The Lime Kiln area – the smallest of the three partly surviving lime kilns at Kingston, Lime-Kiln 3, is thought to date from the First Penal Settlement;
- Arthur’s Vale retains visible evidence of the cropping patterns and the channel modifications (Watermill Creek) of the First Penal period. A section of the channel remains in its First Penal settlement alignment. There is also likely to be archaeological evidence of stream modifications and damming and of general agricultural use and possibly structures such as benching and huts. The construction of the Second Penal Settlement dam would have removed remains of the earlier dam except perhaps the earthworks; and
- The Government House sites.
During the break in human occupation from 1814 to 1825, the wide range of mainly agricultural plants introduced to Norfolk Island continued to change the landscape. Most died out but some introduced plants like lemon and guava spread into the forest throughout the island and now grow wild. Weeds such as lantana and wild olive (hedging plants) may also be remnants of the First Penal Settlement (Knaggs 2006:82). The goats and pigs turned loose on the island when it was abandoned multiplied rapidly.
Under Governor Macquarie the colony of NSW was transformed from a military/penal establishment to a civil colony with an accompanying improvement in the general conditions found in the colony. This general improvement and Macquarie’s support for rehabilitation of convicts raised concerns in Britain as to the effectiveness of the British Government’s policy in the Australian colonies and the effectiveness of transportation which it was concerned was no longer viewed as a deterrent to crime. By 1817 the Secretary of State was seeking an examination of the foundations of British policy in the South Pacific and in January 1819, Lord Bathurst appointed John Thomas Bigge as commissioner to investigate ‘all the laws, regulations and usages of the settlements’ (Crowley, 1974: 64-65). Bigge who had served as Chief Justice in Trinidad had developed a reputation as a reformer.
Published by the British Government in 1822-23, Bigge’s three reports led the government to the conclusion that Macquarie had strayed from the primary function of the colony as a place of punishment and that the physical and social improvements made to the settlements in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land had rendered them incapable of being returned to places of punishment and confinement. Even Macquarie’s chosen settlements for secondary offenders, Newcastle and Port Macquarie were considered too close to Sydney to afford the degree of isolation desired by Bigge, who recommended that Norfolk Island be re-opened as a penal settlement.
In 1824 Lord Bathurst instructed Governor Brisbane to re-occupy the island on the principle of operating as a ‘great hulk or penitentiary’ to provide secondary punishment, the main object being the absence of the hope of mitigation. Secondary punishment was the punishment handed out to convicts who had re-offended after being transported. Lord Bathurst issued a dictum that no sentence was to be mitigated and no prisoners withdrawn until they had been on the island for ten years and behaved well for five, although this direction was later modified. Governor Brisbane acted on the instruction and Norfolk Island was re-occupied on 6 June 1825 by Captain Turton as Commandant, with a party of 50 soldiers, 57 convicts, six women and six children. The convicts included capital respites (convicts capitally committed, sentenced to death, and later respited to life imprisonment or a long period in chains with hard labour), as well as desperate and dangerous convicts. By the 1820s the mainland colony was also suffering a serious problem with bushrangers. A hulk, the Phoenix was purchased to act as a floating prison in Port Jackson for any bushrangers who were apprehended. From there they would be transferred to a place of secondary punishment. Norfolk Island was intended, among other purposes to act as a deterrent to bushranging.
Governor Brisbane left no doubt as to Norfolk Island’s role in the penal system when he described it as the 'ne plus ultra of convict degradation'. He further said of Norfolk Island: 'I have decided to reserve that place for Capital Respites, and other higher classes of offences. I could wish it to be understood that the felon, who is sent there, is forever excluded from all hope of return' (Clune, 1981:113).
Governor Brisbane’s successor, Ralph Darling took over as Governor of New South Wales on 19 December 1825 having served for a brief time as Military Governor of Mauritius after the British captured the former French colony in 1811. On Mauritius Darling had experience of the use of convict work gangs on public works and oversighted an island dependant on slave labour to work the sugar plantations. Darling was a man with strong military views on convict discipline and his concept of government was one of military simplicity, and required strict adherence to regulations and the unquestioning allegiance of his subordinates. He arrived in the colony of New South Wales with instructions from the Home Government that all convicts who were capable of reform were to be assigned to settlers and the incorrigibles sent to the penal settlements. One of Darling’s prime tasks as governor was to continue the implementation of the recommendations of the Bigge Report so as to ensure transportation was again an effective deterrent to crime.
The Second Settlement of Norfolk Island (1825-1855) was of an entirely different character to the First Settlement as it was run as a penitentiary for doubly convicted British felons. Except for being executed, a sentence to one of the penal settlements at Norfolk Island, Port Macquarie or Moreton Bay in New South Wales or Port Arthur in Tasmania was the most dreaded fate in Australia during the 19th century. A sentence of secondary transportation could be ordered after summary trial by two magistrates. Both Governor Darling in New South Wales and Lieutenant Governor Arthur in Tasmania were keen to ensure that discipline at the settlements would be most rigorous to deter others from committing crimes (Shaw 1966:203). Agricultural work was to be by hand with hoes and spades, no ploughs or working cattle were to be used. Hard labour was from sunrise to sunset and task work was prohibited. Prisoners were divided into two classes to encourage and reward good behaviour. The higher class was to have ‘lighter’ work and be allowed tobacco. Overseers, constables, clerks and officer’s servants were to be chosen from this class but only after having served two, four or six years at the penal station, according to the term of their sentence (Shaw 1966:205). No opportunities for early release created despair. Until 1836 no clergyman was found willing to go to Norfolk Island except for brief visits so there was no religious instruction and no one to turn to for comfort or sympathy. There were neither schools nor books nor any kind of relaxation – nothing but bitterness (Shaw 1966:206).
Captain Richard Turton of the 40th Regiment was appointed the first Commandant of the Second Settlement. On arrival at Kingston on 6 June 1825, Turton found the former settlement in ruins and overgrown by tall grass. The pigs and goats turned loose on the island when the first settlement closed had multiplied considerably thereby providing the new settlement with a plentiful supply of meat. Turton set about re-establishing Kingston, building huts to house the garrison and the convicts, and by December 1825 had built a new storehouse. He also rebuilt Government House and the gaol. He also commenced the convicts working on clearing the over-grown roads and gardens, the latter, at Authur’s Vale and Longridge being planted with wheat and barley.
The settlement at Norfolk Island again centred on Kingston and the remains of some First Settlement buildings were rebuilt, old agricultural areas rehabilitated and new areas cleared. Control of the settlement including building activity and employment of convict labour were closely monitored by the Colonial Secretaries of the period. A tight rein was to be kept on the penal settlement to ensure it served as a deterrent to re-offending.
Designed to be the ‘ne plus ultra of convict degradation’ the second settlement on Norfolk Island provided the most terrible aspect of the transportation system to Australia. 211 men were on Norfolk Island in 1829. However, after Port Macquarie was closed and numbers were reduced at Moreton Bay, the numbers on Norfolk Island steadily increased to reach 1 400 in 1838. The prisoners were nearly all among ‘the most depraved and dissolute’ of the convicts and the story of the settlement is tragic and horrible (Shaw, 1966:205). Shaw attributed the lack of proper supervision from Sydney, the combination of isolation, poor buildings, the lack of any female companionship except for the families of the highest officials, the character of the prisoners, including those employed as overseers, and the summary trials for offences against discipline as combining to make homosexual and sadistic practices almost inevitable (Shaw, 1966:205).
Unlike the first settlement where the emphasis was on agriculture and many of the convicts were settled on farms throughout the island growing significant quantities of produce, the second settlement was totally structured around making convict life harsh. The convicts were poorly feed and consequently their capacity for labour and the production of crops was not high. The second settlement barely grew enough grain for its own use, although it had the potential to produce far greater quantities. The convicts health was poor due to the cramped, unclean conditions in which they lived and their poor diet which was reported in 1826 as 'nearly all got one meal every 48 hours'. The situation did not change greatly over the years and the debility brought on by this diet caused many deaths (Nobbs, 1991:20).
The convicts work life was made harsh by tilling the soil with hoes as no ploughs were allowed on the island until 1839. The convicts worked slowly, and this, coupled with the overseer’s lack of farming experience resulted in poor crop yields in what should otherwise have been highly productive agriculture.
No free settlers were allowed on the island during this period of infamy and Darling ordered that no women (convict or free) be allowed on the island. Female convicts and the wives of military personnel already on the island were removed. Darling later changed this instruction when London ordered Colonel Morisset to take over as Commandant of Norfolk Island. A married man, Morisset was permitted to take his wife to the island when he became Commandant in 1828.
The form and layout of the settlement, the extant buildings and structures, archaeological deposits and the documentary records of the second settlement at Kingston are the material evidence of this convict period during which public works, farming and timber getting were the major activities to which the convict labour was directed. Small farms were established all over the island by the military and privileged convicts. Arthur’s Vale and Stockyard Valley were used largely for gardening and a substantial agricultural station was developed at Longridge. Another substantial settlement occurred at Cascade on the northern side of the island adjacent to a second landing pier.
The industrial processes carried out at KAVHA were intended to produce food and building materials, and to a more limited extent shoes and clothing for the Penal Settlement. A limited range of goods that could not be easily produced on the island were imported, primarily manufactured items such as glass and ceramics.
During the Second Settlement the island was extensively exploited for its native pine
which was highly suitable for house building, ship-building and general building uses. The maximum population during this phase was around 3 000 and extensive public works included the construction of well formed roads, drainage systems, substantial bridges, stores, residences for the officers and officials, military barracks and the prison were completed. Large gaols and barracks were built at Kingston and Longridge together with the buildings for the storage of crops and other goods, including underground silos on the ridge behind the Commissariat Store. The construction of the fourth Commandant's House (today's Government House) on Dove Hill with commanding views over the settlement and towards Flagstaff Hill was commenced in 1829; earlier Commandant's Houses not having survived. During the 1830s and 40s handsome houses were built on Quality Row at Kingston for the military and civil officers of the island. The rising slopes to the north of the settlement were cleared to provide uninterrupted views required for surveillance to prevent convicts escaping. The land was later used for grazing. A stone pier was constructed between 1839 and 1847 on the site of the First Settlement landing place.
It is this period that earned Norfolk Island a world renowned reputation for cruelty and baseness. As a place of secondary punishment it was intended to provide a deterrent to convicts not to re-offend. Places of secondary punishment were designed to provide extremely harsh working and living conditions as well as being sufficiently remote from centres of settlement so that there was no possibility of escape and return to society. Norfolk’s island location and its various commandants ensured the conditions and the treatment meted out to convicts met the requirements. Under certain commandants, the conditions were particularly extreme; most notable were Lieutenant Colonel James Morisset, Commandant from May 1929 to April 1834, and John Giles Price, Commandant from August 1846 to January 1853, both earning reputations for their sadistic treatment of convicts. In contrast, Captain Alexander Maconochie, Commandant from March 1840 to February 1844, was committed to penal reform which he introduced on his arrival on the island. Maconochie analysed convictism in terms of the day’s philosophical radicalism, arguing that convicts were generally victims of society and could be redeemed through sympathetic care (Alexander (ed) 2005:426). His goal was to rehabilitate the convicts. His reforms earned the displeasure of his superiors and led Governor Gipps to relieve him of his post.
The Second Settlement’s role as a place of secondary punishment defined its character for the thirty years of this settlement period. The convict population of the island throughout the period was only a very small percentage (at most around 2 percent) of the convict population of New South Wales, as only the intractable convicts were sent to Norfolk Island. They were the worst of the convict population from both New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land; men who had become brutalised by the system and ever increasing levels of punishment only served to make them more recalcitrant. They were prisoners who rebutted all attempts to be moulded by the convict system and could not even be flogged into submission. The prospect of punishment by death was no deterrent. Indeed the depravity and viciousness with which punishment was meted out to these men made death a palatable alternative to life in secondary punishment. It also meant they were dangerous men, to themselves, other convicts and their guards. They were the failures of the convict system but equally the system failed them. The ruthless men charged with running Norfolk Island and controlling its convict population were themselves part of a brutalising system. Only Maconochie brought a humanising regime of reform to the second settlement period through four of its thirty years. The others, with varying degrees of ruthlessness perpetuated the brutal, inhumane treatment deemed appropriate for such prisoners. It was during Morisset’s period as commandant, which was noted for his extensive use of the lash, that Norfolk Island became renowned for its reputation as ‘hell on earth’. The island’s fearsome reputation was well known in Britain by 1833.
Bushranging had grown more common in the 1820s in New South Wales and Governors Brisbane and Darling were determined to stamp it out. An old hulk, the Phoenix, was used as a floating prison at Port Jackson prior to prisoners being transported to a place of secondary punishment, many to Norfolk Island and incarceration at Kingston. Darling, who took up the his post on 19 December 1825 introduced a range of measures including the issuing of orders on 6 March 1826 threatening exile to Norfolk Island for any associates of bushrangers.
Among the more famous bushrangers to serve their sentences on Norfolk Island was the Van Diemen’s Land bushranger, Martin Cash of the famed ‘Cash and Company’. Cash was transported to Norfolk Island for the killing in 1844 of a police constable in Hobart. Cash was captured with Kavanagh, one of his ‘Company’, in Hobart and both were sentenced to death but were reprieved and sentenced to transportation to Norfolk Island. Kavanagh rebelled on the island and was eventually hanged for his part in an abortive escape plan. Cash mended his ways and eventually served the last days of his sentence as an overseer on Norfolk Island where he met and married Mary Bennett, a convict widow working on the island. They left the island in September 1854 sailing for Van Diemen’s Land where Cash took up a position as a constable at the Cascades Agricultural Settlement (Clune, 1981:270). Another bushranger who rose to fame was William Westwood, leader of the mutiny at Kingston in July 1846.
Mutinies and uprising were not uncommon; they punctuate KAVHA’s history. One such event occurred 25 September 1826 when nearly half the convict population revolted and attempted to over-run the garrison and take control of the island. One soldier was killed, one convict was shot and killed, and two others drowned. Some fifty or so convicts were involved in the uprising which involved locking up the civil officers and raiding the stores, some then seized boats and headed for Philip Island which lies seven kilometres to the south of Kingston. The escapees were pursued and captured, and duly sent to Sydney to stand trial. Two of the ringleaders were executed following the Sydney trial and the remainder returned to labour in chains.
Shortly after that uprising a further event occurred when sixty-six convicts aboard the brig Wellington bound for Norfolk Island rose up and overpowered their guards and the ship’s crew. They changed course for New Zealand only to be overpowered on their arrival in the Bay of Islands by the crew of a whaler. They were then returned to Sydney where the ring leaders stood trial and were subsequently executed. The remainder of the convicts were again transported to Norfolk Island to serve their sentences.
One of the worst uprising occurred on 15 January 1834 when a large number of convicts attempted to overwhelm the guard, seize the Commandant and take over the island with the plan of seizing the next Government vessel to call at Norfolk Island and sail to freedom. The convict population was around 700 and the military numbered around 120. It was a highly planned mutiny that had been kept secret for three months. The breadth and detail of the planning and execution of the uprising alarmed authorities. The convicts who were party to the action rose up simultaneously in different parts of Kingston and Longridge seizing the hospital and other locations, releasing other convicts from their chains, breaking into the tool houses and arming themselves with tools as well as with weapons taken from guards who had been over-powered. A frontal attack was made on the guard that escorted the capital respites to and from their places of labour, however, some of the guard escaped and gun fire raised the alarm across Kingston. The officers and the remaining military responded immediately quashing the rebellion, killing two convicts and wounding another eleven of whom seven eventually died of their wounds, before finally capturing many of the conspirators. Others escaped but were recaptured. The Deputy Commandant, Captain Foster Fyans, known as ‘Flogger’, pursued the escapees to Longridge and after rounding up some 100 prisoners set about making an example of them by his usual means. They were tightly bound on a triangle which made them particularly vulnerable to the lashes of the ‘cat’ with which they were flogged. In all 130 prisoners were put in chains and confined awaiting trial. The Commandant’s report on the uprising recommended against transporting the prisoners and witnesses to Sydney for trial, and consequently, Supreme Court Judge William Burton arrived at Kingston in July 1834 to conduct the trials.
This uprising occurred towards the end Lt Col James Morisset’s time as Commandant (1829-34). A particularly harsh and brutal Commandant, he never failed to exert his power and dominance over the convicts by punishing them for the slightest infringements of discipline. The lash, and eventually the gallows, were his response to unruly behaviour, but violence begat violence and his regime was notable for increasing turbulence among the convicts (Britts, 1980:87). Morisset earned the nickname ‘Lasher’ Morisset and he, with his deputy, ‘Flogger’ Fyans elevated Norfolk Island’s reputation as ‘Hell on Earth’. That such a broad scale and well contrived plan of revolt occurred towards the end of Morisset’s reign as commandant was not without reason.
Following the arrival at Kingston of the Judge, the Crown Solicitor and an attorney for the defence, fifty-five of the prisoners were prosecuted as the ringleaders of the uprising. Mr Justice Burton was deeply moved by the conditions he confronted on Norfolk Island and the impact that incarceration had on the men who came before him. He wrote of the experience in his book, The State of Religion and Education in New South Wales, published in 1840 and his descriptions of the trial provide insights into convict life at Kingston. Burton wrote ………..
‘In the course of these trials, which occupied ten day, eighty-seven different witnesses were examined on the part of the Prosecution and for the Prisoners; many of the principal witnesses five or six times over, during which they underwent a course and mode of Cross-examination by the Prisoners, such as no Advocate in the World could conduct; and revealed to the Court a picture of depravity, which, it may be asserted, no human Judge ever had revealed to him before.
This will be fully understood, when it is explained that some of the principal witnesses against the Conspirators, were Prisoners who had been concerned in the affair as deeply as themselves that almost all of them were their fellow prisoners; that they passed days and nights together in confinement, as many as 120 in a single ward; that they had been intimately associated in the commission of other crimes of deeper stain; that their occupation, and they had none of a Holier kind, during their hours of respite from labour, and those which should be given to repose, was the relation of crimes in which they had been engaged, or to which they were privy; no Conspirator could desire a better knowledge of the character of his companions than was thus obtained; they proved indeed by their searching questions on cross-examination, and abundantly proved to the mind of the hearer, by the faint and downcast denial of the Witness, that they were intimately acquainted with each other’s thoughts and words and works; and each particular of these was appalling.
But beyond all this, the unhappy Prisoners themselves, when brought up, as they were in the order of their conviction, (and of the number tried, thirty were capitally convicted, and sentenced of death), completed the abominable revelation by communicating to the Judge, in earnest, deep, but calm expostulation, the crimes committed there, upon which, to be now particular would not be meet; and he can therefore no otherwise describe the State of the Island than figuratively, a mode of expression, however, which he does not believe to exceed the reality when he says that the picture presented of that place to his mind, upon that occasion, was a Cage full of Unclean Birds, full of Crimes against God and Man, Murders and Blasphemies, and all Uncleanness.
One of them, a man who displayed singular ability, and uncommon calmness and self-possession under circumstances so appalling to ordinary minds, represented it to be a ‘Hell upon Earth’, and such assuredly it was, as far as the torment of that Region is made up of the company of evil spirits, glorying in Evil Deeds; ‘let a man’s heart’ he said, ‘be what it will, when he comes here, his Man’s heart is taken away from him, and there is given to him the heart of a Beast.’
He represented, and others followed him in the same course, that the crimes which had brought them there, were not of the kind which should condemn them to such a state; that many of them had been decent men, possessed of means of support, and had wives and families in the world; and they were condemned to the same place of helplessness and despair with those whose crimes were of the deepest kind.
Banished for life or fourteen years to a spot where the face of Woman is never seen – doomed to daily toil, fed upon the most common diet, salt beef, and maize and water.
‘Subject to the lash,’ said he, to use his own expression, ‘if a man looked at an Overseer or a Constable, or neglected his work, or committed any offence, however trivial, and often for no offence at all.’
‘Sentence has been passed upon us before,’ one of them said, ‘and we thought we should be executed, and we prepared to die, and we wish we had been executed then. It was no mercy to send us to this place; I do not ask for life, I do not want to be spared, on condition of remaining here, life is not worth having on such term.’ (Nobbs, 1991:34-35).
The Home Government’s policy and that of the Governor of New South Wales to use Norfolk Island as a deterrent to anyone who might participate in criminal activity had well and truly been implemented. Brisbane’s goal of making it the ‘ne plus ultra of convict degradation’ had been achieved.
Homosexuality was common and the younger convicts were particularly vulnerable. In 1847 the island’s superintendent referred to: 'some of the wretched lads previously known as "colonial women" '. The evasive language of even earlier reports cannot conceal that threat to young convicts… 'At night the sleeping wards are very cess-pools of unheard of vices' (Holden 1999:154).
An 1840s parliamentary report was more direct in its language:
'The young have no chance of escaping from abuse, even forcible violation is resorted to. To resist can hardly be expected, in a situation so utterly removed from, and lamentably destitute of, protection. A terrorism is sternly and resolutely maintained, to revenge, not merely exposure but even complaint' (Holden 1999:154).
The most violent uprising which occurred at Kingston took place in July 1846. It was a spontaneous response triggered by the sadistic Stipendiary Magistrate Samuel Barrow’s order that the men’s cooking pots be withdrawn. They were one of the few items the convicts considered their own having been made by the convicts for their personal use. This event occurred shortly after John Price took over as Commandant but had its genesis in the mis-management of the settlement by its previous Commandant, Major Joseph Childs. Child had no previous experience of running a penal settlement and was an incompetent Commandant making arbitrary decisions including increasing prisoner’s sentences for offences committed on the island without their knowledge. The convicts suffered extreme abuse from their captors and Child’s failure to reign in Stipendiary Magistrate Barrow’s abuses of his power perpetrated the brutal and sadistic pattern of treatment of the convicts that was to be continued by Price. Under these men, the convict system on Norfolk Island degenerated into one of terror for the prisoners and was exacerbated by the use of convict overseers who showed no mercy to their charges. Against this background, the uprising in July 1846 was a flash point when anger at the brutal treatment being meted out to the convicts sparked a spontaneous rebellion led by the former bushranger William Westwood who had shown no previous inclination towards violence. It was a short but vicious event during which Westwood led some thirty men in blind retaliation against an already harsh system that had been perverted by men like Barrow and Price, and had already pushed convict life beyond the limits of human endurance. It personified the worst results of authority’s brutally retributive policies. According to Cash, who did not participate in the outbreak, Westwood had been: 'flogged, goaded and tantalised till he was reduced to a lunatic and a savage' (Nobbs,1991:26).
Westwood murdered four officials but failed to kill Barrow who had been his main target. He and eleven other convicts who were implicated as accomplices stood trial on the island. All were sentenced to death and executed then buried in an unmarked mass grave without religious rites on 13 October 1846. The site, on the edge of the cemetery which is located at the eastern end of KAVHA, is known as 'murderers mound'.
Having been part of New South Wales from 1788, Norfolk Island was annexed to the Colony of Van Diemen’s Land on 29 September 1844. Transportation to New South Wales ceased in 1840 and after that date convicts were transported from Britain direct to Norfolk Island. The composition of the island’s convict population changed following the British Government’s decision to introduce a probation system of convict transportation and discipline. The probation system emerged from the Molesworth House of Commons Committee (1837-38) which was convened to enquire into the effectiveness of transportation as a punishment, its influence on the moral state of the penal colonies and whether or not it might be improved (Nobbs, 1991:53). The assignment system of convict discipline which had operated since the early days of the settlement had been viewed as something of a lottery subject to what type of master a convict was assigned to, and further, it was viewed by many as a form of slavery which was ineffective in providing for the controlled punishment and reform of convicts. The probation system involved a staged approach to criminal reform in which prisoners were classed into groups according to their crime and conduct, with good behaviour being rewarded with additional freedom and privileges. Under the new system, the first stage of probation for any British sentence of transportation for life and some other sentences of fifteen years or more, involved serving detention on Norfolk Island for two to four years under conditions of hard labour and severe discipline, then subsequent transfer to Van Diemen’s Land to enter the second stage of their probation. The cessation of transportation to New South Wales and the introduction of the new probation system necessitated the annexation of Norfolk Island to Van Diemen’s Land to implement the new arrangements. This also involved transferring all prisoners who had been convicted in Britain and were already on Norfolk Island to Van Diemen’s Land so as to make room for the incoming prisoners. This occurred in 1844. Under the probation system Norfolk Island received around 1 400 probationary prisoners direct from England in the first two years of the scheme (1844-46).
In his report to the British Parliament in 1847, Catholic Bishop Robert Wilson, who was greatly interested in penal reform, detailed the appalling conditions on Norfolk Island. His report helped bring an end to the island’s use as a penal settlement.
The penal settlement was gradually closed between 1847 and 1855 and the convicts withdrawn to Port Arthur in Van Diemen’s Land where they served out their sentences, others having been released on tickets of leave. Transportation to Van Diemen’s Land ceased in 1853 and a formal Order in Council was made on 29 December 1853, repealing all Orders making Van Diemen’s Land and Norfolk Island penal settlements (Clune, 1981:269). A small party remained on the island to care for the farms and livestock and to hand over to the incoming settlers from Pitcairn Island who constituted the third settlement phase of the island’s history.
The Third (or Pitcairn) Settlement of the Island (1856 – to the present) started on 8 June 1856 with the arrival at the Kingston pier of the entire population (194 persons) of Pitcairn Island. The Pitcairners were the descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers (of 1789) and Tahitian women, and three men who had settled on Pitcairn Island during the 1820s.
In 1855 the British Parliament passed the Australian Waste Lands Act, separating New South Wales from Van Diemen’s Land and making provision for the Home Government to separate Norfolk Island from Van Diemen’s Land. The latter occurred on 24 June 1856 when by Order in Council Norfolk Island was declared a distinct settlement of the British Crown with responsibility for administration given to the Governor of New South Wales as Governor of Norfolk Island, a position occupied at the time by Sir William Denison. In June 1856, Denison sent Captain Fremantle to Norfolk Island and in a letter to the Chief Magistrate outlined the arrangements that now existed between the Governor of New South Wales and the Pitcairn settlers on Norfolk Island including that the Chief Magistrate would act as administrator in the Governor’s absence. It was the first written document regarding the transfer that was passed from a representative of the Government to the Pitcairn community and was taken by the community to be a formal cession. Governor Denison visited the island in September 1857 and dispelled the islanders’ belief that a formal cession had taken place. He reinforced the position that the island was the property of the Crown and that the right of ownership of the land would be held as a grant from the Crown. Denison also formulated a set of laws and regulations for Norfolk Island that were gazetted on 30 October 1857. He viewed the relocation of the Pitcairners to Norfolk Island as a social experiment and wished to retain the ‘peculiar form of polity under which they (the Pitcairners) have hitherto existed as a community’ (Nobbs, 1984:43-46).
The history of the Pitcairners starts in the famous voyage of the Bounty. The voyage commenced in late November 1787, when HMS Bounty under the command of Lieutenant (later Captain) William Bligh (later Governor of NSW), sailed from Britain bound for Tahiti to take on board breadfruit trees and transported them to the West Indies where they would be planted to grow a cheap and plentiful supply of food for the slaves working in the sugar plantations. After a torrid journey of ten months the Bounty reached Tahiti where it stayed for 23 weeks. The crew enchanted by the Polynesian life-style easily settled into the way of life, some taking local women as wives, actual or de facto. Bligh was known to be an arrogant and difficult man and not the easiest of captains under whom to serve due to his ill temper, cruel tongue and belief in his own superiority. Bounty’s mate, Fletcher Christian was a handsome, agreeable young man of aristocratic background who contrasted greatly with the bad-tempered Bligh who was of yeoman stock, however, Christian had earned his captain’s respect as a seaman. Shortly after Bounty’s homeward voyage began the crew led by Fletcher Christian mutinied on 28 April 1789. Bligh and eighteen loyal sailors were set adrift in a 23 foot ship’s boat. Bligh, a highly accomplished navigator, then completed one of the greatest feats of maritime history by sailing the open craft 3,600 miles to Coupang (Timor), from where he returned to England seeking retribution for the mutineers. Bounty returned to Tahiti where some of the men remained. Christian then sailed Bounty with nine of the mutineers, six Polynesian men, nineteen women and one baby through the Pacific seeking a hiding place in which to settle. Christian would have had no doubt that the Royal Navy would not allow such an action to go unpunished. After initially attempting to settle on Toobouai, the mutineers finally selected the uninhabited Pitcairn Island as their hide-away. Settling on the island in January 1790 they scuttled the Bounty to avoid detection.
Violence scared the small community as arguments over the women and distilled alcohol led to fights and murders of the mutineers and all the Polynesian men. Only one of the mutineers remained alive when the first contact with other Europeans was made. The American ship Topaz stopped at the island and its crew was surprised to find English speaking natives. The Bounty connection was soon established. It was not until 1814 that the first Royal Naval ships called at Pitcairn Island, twenty-five years after the mutiny. Their captains did not seize John Adams, the only surviving mutineer and Bligh’s wish for retribution was never realised. Adams had become fervently religious and took upon himself the role of teacher, religious instructor and father (Clarke, 1986:91). It was Adams who established the devout nature of the Pitcairn Island community which is today reflected in their descendents living on Norfolk Island.
By 1831 a scarcity of water and food confronted the Pitcairn community as it grew in size. In response, the entire Pitcairn community relocated to Tahiti, where they were struck by measles which claimed twelve lives. A devout people, they were shocked at the easy morals of the Tahitians and eventually returned to Pitcairn Island. The problems of scarcity of food and water increased as the community continued to grow. Complaints were made to the British Government about their situation and in response the Islanders were offered resettlement on Norfolk Island, a fertile place with established viable farms, that was being closed as a penal settlement. On 8 June 1856, the entire Pitcairn community aboard the Morayshire arrived at Norfolk Island, landing at Kingston to start their new life.
Initially the Pitcairners were housed, by ballot, in many of the existing smaller buildings at Kingston and the land was parcelled out in 50 acre lots. These buildings were maintained until 1908 when many were vacated and fired in response to Government evictions. Other buildings, roads and infrastructure were maintained (and over the years a few renovated) for administrative and maritime use including the New Military Barracks in which a school was established following the arrival in June 1859 of Thomas Rossiter, Governor Denison’s agent who roles included school teacher, Government store-keeper and meteorologist. The remainder of the Second Settlement buildings, including the convict buildings, were allowed to fall to ruin from 1855. In the early 20th century some of these were quarried for building materials.
On arrival at Kingston in 1856 the community found the Protestant Chapel in the former Prisoner’s Barracks in a poor state of repair and the leaking roof forced a relocation of services to the Old Military Barracks, the only non-residential structures in a good state of repair. In 1870 the Pitcairn settlers commenced construction of a church in Quality Row. A timber structure, it was completed in 1872 but destroyed by a severe storm in 1874 and was not rebuilt. Services were then transferred to the Commissariat Store which was remodelled, having the second floor removed to create All Saint’s Anglican Church which remains in use to this day.
On 30 October 1857, the New South Wales Government Gazette promulgated new laws and regulations for Norfolk Island. All previous laws, ordinances and regulations were repealed and annulled, and 39 new laws came into effect. Governor Dennison had drafted the new laws to vest the executive government of Norfolk Island in his absence in a Chief Magistrate and two Assistants or Councillors to be elected annually by every person who had resided on the island for six months, had attained the age of twenty years and could read and write.
While some of the Pitcairners returned to live on Pitcairn Island, the population on Norfolk Island grew and by 1869 it was 300, around 1883 it had reached 470 (exclusive of the Mission) (Clune, 1981: 274-276). In 1865 the headquarters of the New Zealand Mission, an Anglican mission to Melanesia was moved to Norfolk Island and in 1867 the Mission, located on the western side of the island, received 99 acres as a free grant and a further grant of 933 acres for which they paid two Pounds per acre. The Pitcairners who farmed the island, fished and went shore whaling were angered by the grants believing that the island had been granted to them, suddenly found that one-fifth of the alienated land had been given over to the Mission. In 1884 the NSW Governor, Lord Loftus visited the island and at a Parliamentary sitting which the entire male population attended, strongly criticised the community on a number of matters including letting the land go to ruin and affirming the Governor’s right to grant land on the island as he considered appropriate. The community had less than 180 acres of the 5,000 acres of alienated land on the island (total area of 8,600 acres) under cultivation. They preferred fishing and whaling to agriculture.
On 6 March 1896, the then Governor Viscount Hampden issued a proclamation announcing that a ‘Government Resident’ would shortly be appointed who would replace the locally elected Chief Magistrate. Hampden intended not only to repeal the existing laws and regulations but to replace them with the same laws that applied in New South Wales, excluding land and electoral laws (Nobbs, 2006:138). On 15 January 1897, an Order in Council revoked the Order of 1 November 1856, paving the way for a transfer of the administration of the island to New South Wales in anticipation of annexation to either New South Wales or some future federal body of which New South Wales may become a part. Moves to federate the Australian colonies were already well under way. The change in administrative arrangements took place on the day the colonies federated, 1 January 1901, when administration of the island was transferred to the Governor of New South Wales. Norfolk Island was not involved in the federation and remained a British possession.
The Australian Parliament passed the Norfolk Island Act 1913 which paved the way for Norfolk Island to become a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia. 148 Islanders petitioned the King in January 1914 objecting to the forcible annexation to Australia without consultation and seeking some form of accommodation with New Zealand. Their petition was unsuccessful and on 30 March 1914 the British Parliament revoked the relevant Order in Council thereby placing Norfolk Island under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia. Transfer of the administrative arrangements from the Governor of New South Wales to the Commonwealth took place on 1 July 1914.
Fishing, farming and whaling remained the principal economic activities in Norfolk Island’s third settlement phase until the tourism industry developed post World War 2. In 1902 the island was connected to Australia by an undersea cable that continued on to Canada. It remained in use until 1962 when it became redundant due to the use of wireless telegraphy. Kingston served as the main centre for the whaling industry with the Crank Mill, Pier Store and the Double Boat Shed being occupied by the four whaling companies on the island as well as being the main storage centre for the oil readied for export. Cascade was also used for whaling activity in the late 19th century and was also the site of the whaling station established in 1956 that operated for six years until the scarcity of whales forced its closure in 1962.
World War 2 saw the construction of an airfield on Norfolk Island. Originally proposed by the United States Air Force (USAF) as a base, it was not used by the USAF but by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, which operated the airfield for aircraft staging through the area. It was not used as an operational base. The airfield gave greater access to the island after the war and the commencement of a regular air service in 1947 paved the way for the tourism industry which is now a major component of the island’s economy. Tourist numbers grew from 978 in 1961, to 10 683 in 1971 and by 1973/74 the number had increased to
15 684. The numbers continued to rise and in 1986/87 29 085 tourists visited the island, the numbers rising to 38 298 tourists in 1999/2000 (Mosley, 2001:60-63). The 1960s marked a change in the composition of the community with increasing numbers of persons not born on Norfolk Island settling on the island as ordinary residents. By August 2001, the permanent population of the island was 1 574 of whom 756 were of Pitcairn descent (Norfolk Island Census, 2001:10).
Between 1976 and 1978 works were undertaken to convert the Old Military Barracks into the seat of the Norfolk Island Assembly and Administration which came into being following the passage of the Norfolk Island Act 1979. The Act conferred a degree of self government on the island.
The third settlement period continues to the present and has resulted in development and other activities in most parts of the Island, some of which date back to the early years of this settlement period. Between 1856 and 1960 approximately three-quarters of the island was cleared and intensively farmed, and the reserves were greatly modified by grazing and timber exploitation.
Throughout the Third Settlement Kingston has remained the administrative and shipping centre of Norfolk Island and much of the adjacent land including Arthur’s Vale (but not Stockyard Valley) has been a Government Reserve for stock grazing, recreational and tourist uses. KAVHA has been the focus of the third settlement community not only as the administrative-government centre but also as a cultural and religious centre. Anniversary Day or Bounty Day, as it is also known, is the annual re-enactment each June of the arrival of the Pitcairn community at Kingston. It is a major cultural event in the island’s calendar when the community celebrates its history and cultural origins. Norfolk, the local language, an amalgam of 18th century English and Tahitian is today spoken by those of Pitcairn descent despite attempts by the authorities to eradicate the language in the early part of the 20th century by banning its use in the classroom. The community continued speaking the language and in 1987 it was introduced into the school curriculum to ensure its preservation for following generations. All Saints Church (Anglican) holds a central place in the religious life of the community both historically and as an on-going place of worship. KAVHA also serves the community as a place of recreation. The area includes the golf course, the cricket pitch and the beautiful Emily Bay where islanders and tourists picnic, fish and swim, and the adjacent Slaughter Bay inside the reef which is used for fishing, skin diving and coral viewing.
Since the early 1960s many of the surviving buildings and ruins have been stabilised and reconstructed, and new fencing, tree plantings and other landscape work carried out.
In 1973 building works came under the control of an Inter-Departmental Committee of the Commonwealth Government. This has led to the reconstruction of many of the buildings informed by archaeological surveys, excavations and architectural advice, and the implementation of measures to protect the historical character of the area from visual intrusion.
In 1989 the KAVHA Management Board was established by a Memorandum of Understanding between the Commonwealth and Norfolk Island Governments. The MOU was revised in 1994.
|Condition and Integrity|
Evidence of the First Settlement (1788-1814) exists as
archaeological remains or as footings in some later buildings. The historic
buildings and remains of the Second Settlement (1825-1855) are relatively well
conserved with considerable restoration and stabilisation works having been
carried out since the 1970s. Importantly, the lack of any substantial
development since 1855 makes KAVHA outstanding as the landscape in which the
built remains are relatively unaltered since it was cleared of its forest for farming
during the first settlement and for surveillance and communications in the
second settlement period. The historic landscape is well preserved reflecting
the unique history of Norfolk Island.|
About 250ha, at Kingston, being an area bounded by a line
commencing at the High Water Mark approximately 120m to the south east of
Bloody Bridge, then proceeding westerly via the High Water Mark to about 230m
west of the eastern boundary of Block 91a, then from high water level following
the watershed boundary along the ridge west of Watermill Creek up to the 90m
contour, then north-westerly via that contour to the boundary of Block 176,
then following the western and northern boundary of Block 176 or the 90m ASL
(whichever is the lower) to the north west corner of Block 52r, then via the
northern boundary of Block 52r and its prolongation across Taylors
Road to the western boundary of Block 79a, then northerly and easterly via the
western and northern boundary of Block 79a to its intersection with the 90m
ASL, then easterly via the 90m ASL to its intersection with the eastern
boundary of Block 64b, then south easterly via the eastern boundary of Block
64b to its intersection with Block 65d2, then northerly and southerly via the
northern and eastern boundary of Block 65d2 to Rooty
Hill Road, then directly across this road to the north east corner of Block
67a, then south easterly via the north east boundary of Block 67a to its
intersection with the north west boundary of Block 67c, then north easterly and
south easterly via the north west and north east boundary of Block 67c to
Driver Christian Road, then easterly via the southern side of Driver Christian
Road to a point where it veers south (approximately 60 metres to the east),
then southerly via the western road reserve boundary of Driver Christian Road
and its prolongation to the High Water Mark (point of commencement).|
Administration of Norfolk Island, 2001, Norfolk
Island Census of Population and Housing - August 2001, Norfolk Island
Government, Norfolk Island.|
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Report Produced Wed Jul 30 15:40:54 2014