Thursday, July 12, 2012
Next March the Norfolk Island Museum will be partnering with The Travel Centre to present a week long event that celebrates our maritime heritage. Despite being such a little island we certainly hit above our weight when it comes to the quality of our maritime stories and it is wonderful to be able to share these with our visitors in a ‘history soaked’ week of events! The Travel Centre has put together a fabulous package including airfares, accommodation and a range of activities for the week which will run from 15 to 24 March next year. Please help us tell others about this event by letting us know of individuals or groups who may like to receive information about the week and we’ll arrange for a package to be sent to them.
The title of the week: “From the Sirius to the Bounty” gives a clear indication of the substance of our maritime heritage. These two ‘big’ maritime stories bookend other perhaps lesser known but also fascinating parts of our maritime history. The story of the earliest Polynesian seafarers who lived here is important as this island is the only point of Polynesian settlement in Australia. Many islanders today have found artefacts such as stone adzes in their back garden or at the beach and of course we have a great array of artefacts from the archaeological digs behind Emily Bay. How the Polynesians came, why and when they left are just some of the questions surrounding this earliest part of the islands history.
Jumping forward in time an important part of our heritage today comes from our whaling history. One of the first industries to be started upon arrival by the Pitcairners, whaling brought vital cash into the economy. It was a dangerous activity as evidenced by the number of graves in our cemetery and an industry that stopped and started a number of times until finally finishing in 1962. The Resolution is another key local maritime story that goes to the heart of this island’s ultimately unsuccessful attempts to control shipping of fresh fruit and vegetables to mainland markets. Our modern day lighterage activity and the skill of our local men in unloading ships attracts visitors to every unloading. All these stories will be fully explored during the week.
Of course the wrecking of HMS Sirius on Norfolk Island in 1790 left us with Australia’s most important shipwreck site and material. On the 223rd anniversary of her wrecking at midday the 19th March, we will be looking out over the site where the devastating wrecking occurred. The importance of her artefacts cannot be understated – they are the most significant array of First Fleet cultural heritage held in Australia.
Last, but certainly not least is the most famous mutiny story ever told – the mutiny on the Bounty. We will try to separate Hollywood fiction from fact and fully explore all the circumstances of the mutiny; that most remarkable voyage of Bligh in the longboat and the voyage of the mutineers back through Tahiti and eventually on to Pitcairn Island.