Norfolk Island National Park currently forms 14 per cent of the total land area of Norfolk Island.
The Mount Pitt Section of the park and the Botanic Garden were first established by the Norfolk Island National Park and Norfolk Island Botanic Garden Act 1984 (NI) when it came into force on 12 February 1985. These areas were subsequently declared a national park and botanic garden under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 (Cwlth) by proclamation under that Act on 31 January 1986 following a request of the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly.
Prior to this, both areas had been public reserves declared under the Commons and Public Reserves Ordinance 1936.
Ever since human habitation the Mount Pitt - Mount Bates area and Phillip Island have been valuable resources for Norfolk's various settlements.
Features of the area that have made it suitable for human use over the years include:
- fertile soils;
- abundance of timber;
- abundance of edible and useful plants and animals; and
- scenic beauty providing recreation opportunities.
The steep topography of Mount Pitt and Bates has meant that the use of land for agriculture and grazing has been minimal and therefore many natural ecosystems remain relatively undisturbed.
Prior to World War II, the Old Mountain track was the main access to Mount Pitt. The track is now used as a direct route from the park entrance to Mount Pitt. Much of the area was once infested with introduced trees and shrubs which eventually became unwelcome weeds. These are gradually being removed and replaced with native species as part of a rehabilitation programme.
The Mount Bates track skirts the top edge of the ridge between Mount Pitt and Mount Bates and continues to the base of Mount Bates from where wooden steps lead to the top. Visitors to Mount Bates are rewarded with breathtaking views over the north-west of the island. Excavations and structures at the top of Mount Bates are relics of a World War II radar station.