Museum Cemetery Tour


Museum Tour

‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ – Stories from Norfolk Island Cemetery

When the sound of the bell tolling was heard across the island, you knew that someone had died. The bell tolled once for each year of the person’s life.

This one and a half hour guided tour of the Cemetery will bring to life the people, events and history of Norfolk Island. Spanning over 200 years, the Norfolk Island cemetery is one of the most important and unique cemeteries in Australasia. A local guide will lead you through the gravestones and the stories, providing a unique and truly memorable experience. The only dedicated Cemetery tour on offer on the island.

When: Every Tuesday and Friday at 11:30am (tour finishes at 1pm)

Cost: $20.00 per person, or $15.00 per person when purchased with a Museum Pass

Where: Meet at the top Cemetery gate in Kingston

The Cemetery – Yesterday, Today and Forever

The island cemetery, at the eastern end of Quality Row, was established in convict times and is still in use. Stunted White Oaks, slanted by sea winds over the cemetery wall, were visible in some of the earliest drawings.

Inscriptions on the 156 or 186 historic graves (many convicts have no known graves) are detailed in a book ‘ The Colonial Era Cemetery of Norfolk Island ‘ by Air Commodore R Nixon-Dalkin, former Administrator. In the 1960s/70s inscriptions we re-cut and some graves covered by sand dunes were uncovered.

There are heart-rending records of lads from England and Ireland, convicts, and soldiers, oppressors and oppressed, together with settlers, who died, drowned, were murdered, or executed on this lonely island. Skull and crossbones, or hangman’s knot engraved on some tombstones are clues to the fate of several. Many were so young, but one incorrigible old forger died at the age of 105. Thomas Saulsbury Wright was, at the age of 98, sentenced to 14 years on Norfolk for his profound conviction that he had as much right to make money and start a bank as anyone else.

A large cross marks the grave of Rev. George Hunn Nobbs “who was for 55years the faithful pastor of the Pitcairn and Norfolk Island community and was taken to his rest on the fifth day of November in the eighty-fifth year of his age” (1884)

Today’s burials in the old cemetery by the sea are very much family affairs. Relatives and friends make arrangement and dig the grave. The Administration provides the plot, the coffin of Norfolk Pine and the hearse – and there is now charge.

Islanders will tell you, with straight faces, that it pays to die on Norfolk.

Ena Christina speaks for the Norfolk people:

And I pray when the breeze blows my soul out to sea,

Let me sleep “Down a town” there with all my family,

Where the pines by the sea cast their shade over me,

And forever I hear the surf breaking. You see,

That’s my heaven“.

Click the below link to view Norfolk Island Cemeteries data and photo information of headstones. Many showing the graves of the descendants of the Bounty mutineers.

Credits : Norfolk Island – Island of history and many delights by Jean Edgecombe

              : Guru Productions