2001 Norfolk Island’s Lazy Dayz – Day 9

Monday – an in-depth discovery of Kingston

Feeling refreshed and rearing to go – we decide we will go to Kingston and really look around.  We once again enjoy our dekkie brekkie and then I walk up the driveway to have a look around and take some photos.

Seeing that we have always driven up here it is good to walk and just spend the time enjoying the quiet time.  There are no four footed – or even feathered – friends this morning – just me and my camera.

This is the entrance sign at the top of the driveway down to our house.  As you can see, there are lots and lots and lots of Norfolk Island Pines around and everything is so green.

On the right is another view of our house – somehow you just cannot get enough of looking at this wonderful place. but in saying that enough is enough so I walk back down to the house being careful not to trip over the bumps and rocks in the driveway that are always a source of merriment when we drive either up or down.

Are you ready for a bit more history?  OK – let’s go.  Our plan is to park the car at the end of the road near the wharf.  Then we will walk around all the buildings and then venture down Quality Row to the cemetery.

On the left is the Royal Engineer’s Office with the double boat shed.  This is one of the earliest remaining buildings constructed by the Royal Engineers.  It was completed in 1851 as a two room structure with two rear rooms and a porch over the front door.  It was used as a residence by the Pitcairn settlers after 1856.  In 1897 it became the Police Constables quarters after repairs were carried out.  The double boatshed was built in 1841 on the site of an old barn.  It accommodated two 8 to 14 ton launches and two 6 oared whaleboats.  Alterations were carried out in the twentieth century which included the construction of double doors in the east wall and a series of annexes.

Right – the Settlement Guard House (front) was constructed in 1826 on the ruins of a first settlement structure.  In 1841 it was converted to use as the Engineer’s Store and a new east door and a double privvy added.  In 1847 it was again extended and in the early 1850’s it became a library and the location of doors and windows was altered.

The Pier Store (at the rear) was the first substantial second settlement building. It was built in 1825 as the Commissariat Store and in 1834 the stored goods were removed following flooding and steel hand mills were installed in the upper storey to grind corn. The upper storey was adapted as a guardroom in 1841 amid fears of a convict rebellion.  After 1855 the building was used as a customs shed and ‘coffin room’.  It has been largely returned to its early form.

A view of the buildings including the crank mill.  What with some of them being restored and some not, it gives you the chance to use your imagination and wonder what they all liked when they were fully operational.

Seeing that we had already walked around the Civil Hospital and Surgeon’s Quarters (see previous post) we just give these a light look and proceed up past the New Gaol and Prisoner’s Barracks.  They are just as foreboding as they were before and the sense of dread and desperation is just as great.

Now it is time for a stroll down Quality Row.

The  first building on the corner of Quality Row is the Commissariat Store.  This is the best surviving example of its type and age as well as one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in Australia.  It was completed in 1835 and the work involved excavation of the hill behind.  The ground floor contained a glass partitioned office which still exists, meal room, office and store.  The first floor contained an engineer’s store, grain store and office, the second floor a grain store. In the basement was a liquor and general store.

In 1874 the building was converted to a church by removing the first floor to create a double storey space.

A stained glass window was constructed in the east wall, a gabled porch erected over the north door and a clock and bell installed over the front entrance.  The porch, clock, bell and outbuildings have now been removed but the ground floor still serves as All Saints Church.

On the right is the stained glass window.  Unfortunately on this day the church was not open so we could not investigate the inside and take photos of the window reflecting the sunlight.  But we press on – – it is a long walk up Quality Row.

Next stop – the New Military Barracks.

These were designed in 1834 by the commandant, Major Joseph Anderson who stated that it was to be ‘stronger in all respects’ than the old barracks.  Construction began in 1835 after excavation of a large part of the hill behind the barracks.  The soldiers’ barracks were built first then the officer’s quarters, military hospital, officers’ and soldiers’ outbuildings and ammunition magazine.  The complex was completed in 1837 and housed 164 rank and file soldiers and four sergeants.  The hospital was destroyed by fire in 1909 and the barracks verandah and several of the outbuildings had been removed by the 1920’s.  The officer’s quarters were later extensively rebuilt and the barracks’ verandah reconstructed.  The barracks has now become the island’s administrative centre.

Old Military Barracks.  These provide a fine example of the 1830’s British military architecture.

They were designed by William Buchanan in 1826 as a two-storey building with verandahs to accommodate 100 men.  Construction commenced in 1829. The convict population soon rose from 170 to 400 prisoners and a third storey was added to the building in 1831.  The officers’ wings were constructed in 1832.  When finally completed in 1834 the complex comprised a central soldiers’ barrack with officers’ quarters on each side.  At the rear were kitchens, wash-houses, privies, military hospital and a well.  The complex was surrounded by a high stone wall.  In the first half of this century the complex was used by the firm Burns Philp.  It has now been adapted to serve as the chambers of the Norfolk Island Assembly.  Some of the outbuildings have been demolished.

Quality Row Houses.  These houses comprise part of the most extensive remaining pre 1850 penal settlement street in Australia.  The first house constructed after Government House was the Roman Catholic Clergyman’s Quarters (No. 11 Quality Row) in 1833.  See photo left.

Some of the houses on Quality Row were occupied by the Pitcairners in 1856.  In 1908 following a dispute over title to the land and subsequent evictions some were set on fire and gutted.  All but two houses were repaired and a third fell into disrepair in the 1930’s.  These have recently been stabilised as ruins and the other houses returned to their second settlement form.

Photos of some of these houses along with the details are below.  Roll your mouse over the photo to see whose house it was and what year it was built.

Are they not fabulously well restored and looked after? It certainly gives you the feeling of how the officers and upper class of Norfolk Island lived.  At the end of this walk IT3 decides she will walk back and get the car and meet IT1 and myself at the end of this street where we will investigate the Historic Cemetery and Cemetery Bay.

The day is turning out to be extremely hot and we are all in need of some shade and a cold drink – but we will forego the latter for the time being and continue on.  The first Cemetery on the island was at Emily Bay and pieces of headstones have recently been located in the waters of this bay.


This site was set aside for burials soon after the 1825 occupation.

In 1834, after the execution of convicts involved in an unsuccessful uprising, Bishop Ullathorne described the cemetery as ‘closed in on three sides by thick melancholy groves while the fourth is open to the restless seas’.

The Cemetery headstones provide detailed evidence of the convict revolts and the lifestyle and causes of death of the inhabitant’s, including those so often overlooked in official histories – the women and children of Norfolk Island.  It is the children and their details that are the most heart-wrenching.  This is yet another reminder of the harsh lives all these people had to endure, not just the convicts.

After spending the entire morning at Kingston it is time to head home for lunch of fresh bread and Honest Dave’s produce – and of course the long awaited cold drink!!!  This afternoon we will sit on our deck, listen to the ocean and the birds – and maybe the occasional bovine in the distance – we can contemplate that as beautiful this island is; it has a past of tragedy and cruelty that we really cannot comprehend .

Highlight of the day : after Kingston, Quality Row and the cemetery – finishing with the solemnity and beauty of Cemetery Bay.