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Australian Explorers

Monday, October 10, 1774. :   Captain Cook discovers Norfolk Island.

     Norfolk Island lies approximately 1,500 km northeast of Sydney, and along with two neighbouring islands forms one of Australia's external territories. The first European to discover Norfolk was Captain Cook, on 10 October 1774. Cook's reports of tall, straight trees (Norfolk pines) and flax-like plants piqued the interest of Britain, whose Royal Navy was dependent on flax for sails and hemp for ropes from Baltic sea ports. Norfolk Island promised a ready supply of these items, and its tall pines could be utilised as ships' masts. Governor Arthur Phillip, Captain of the First Fleet to New South Wales, was ordered to colonise Norfolk Island, before the French could take it.

Following the arrival of the First Fleet in New South Wales, Lieutenant Philip Gidley King led a party of fifteen convicts and seven free men to take control of the island and prepare for its commercial development. They arrived on 6 March 1788. Neither the flax nor the timber industry proved to be viable, and the island developed as a farm, supplying Sydney with grain and vegetables during the early years of the colony's near-starvation. More convicts were sent, and many chose to remain after they had served their sentences. The initial Norfolk Island settlement was abandoned in 1813, but a second penal colony was re-established in 1824, as a place to send the very worst of the convicts. The convicts were treated accordingly and the island gained a reputation as a vicious penal colony. It, too, was abandoned in 1855, after transportation to Australia ceased.

The third settlement was established by descendants of Tahitians and the HMAV Bounty mutineers, resettled from the Pitcairn Islands which had become too small for their growing population. The British government had permitted the transfer of the Pitcairners to Norfolk, which was established as a colony separate from New South Wales but under the administration of that colony's governor. After the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, Norfolk Island was placed under the authority of the new Commonwealth government to be administered as an external territory. Norfolk Island was granted self-government in 1979.


Today in History

Thought For Today
But you must keep control of yourself in all circumstances; endure suffering, do the work of a preacher of the Good News...
2 Timothy 4:5 (c) GNB
God has an eternal reward for those who stick to doing what is right.

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