Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Norfolk Island Museums #1, June 26th, 2018

Posted by Lisa Hill on June 26, 2018

Today we went to the World Heritage site at Kingston and did the museums.

Commissariat store museum (Tim)

The site is world heritage because it is an almost complete Georgian village.  All the officers’ houses are built to the same design, and some of them are still in use as housing for commonwealth public servants who are seconded here for a year or two.  (Though they are a bit damp, apparently, so some prefer to rent elsewhere.)

Apparently in one of the stoushes over who owns what on Norfolk, the NSW government wanted to charge rent for these houses, and the locals took umbrage over it because they reckon they own the buildings because Queen Victoria gave them the island.  So they burned down some of the houses…

Anyway, first up was the Commissariat Store Museum…

In a small room off to the side, there were some artefacts proving the existence of Polynesian settlement on Norfolk Island, but the reasons why they vanished from here are not known.  There are also some scraps of archaeological evidence of the First Settlement that began in 1788.

There are a lot more artefacts from the Second Settlement.  I particularly like the household items – see the contrast between the china ware that the officers used and the mocha ware used by lesser mortals…

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Crankmill (Tim)

There are also more melancholy exhibits. The crankmill was used solely for the purpose of punishing convicts. It was more slow and inefficient than other methods of crushing grain,  so this machine was just to inflict back-breaking labour on the men.

the kidnapping of Tuki & Huru

There was also the shameful story of two Maori chieftains called Tuki and Huru who were kidnapped so that they could teach the Brits how to weave flax.  The chieftains, of course, had no idea, since it was women’s work.  Eventually they were taken back to New Zealand and released.  The baskets on display were given as gifts, and have an interesting little tale of their own.  In the 21st century they were repatriated to the Kiwis, who promptly returned them, saying that they had been given as gifts, and they don’t take back gifts after they’ve been given.

NI pine & flax

These are tree rings of Norfolk Island pine and flax.  The pine turned out to be too soft for the masts and spars of a ship, but they are still holding up the building very nicely indeed.

If you only have time to see one museum, this is the best one, and the lady who sells the tickets is very knowledgeable and willing to answer questions about anything. ,

PS I’m sorry the layout is a bit of a muddle, I will fix it when I get back home…

One Response to “Norfolk Island Museums #1, June 26th, 2018”

  1. I’ll remember this if/when i go to Norfolk Island. I like looking at household artefacts too, because of the insight they give into how people live.

    Don’t worry about the format. I think all of us who travel understand the challenges of posting when away.

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