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Convict Settlement Tour – Pinetree Tours

Convict Settlement Tour – Pinetree Tours


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The first known settlement of Norfolk Island dates from around 1000-1500AD. Polynesian wayfarers made the island their home and settled in Kingston where they remained for many years. Why they chose to leave is a mystery, but their presence did not vanish over time and was noted centuries later when the first British settlers arrived in 1788 only weeks after the First Fleet arrived in Sydney.

New South Wales Governor Arthur Phillip sent a party east on HMAT Supply, led by Philip Gidley King, to settle the island and secure its natural resources. Their arrival on the 6th of March 1788 began a period of 25 years of settlement. In 1814 the buildings of that settlement were set ablaze and the British deserted the island where it would remain uninhabited by humans for the next decade. 

In 1825 a decision was made by the British to re-settle the island beginning a brutal penal era that would last for 30 years. Much of the Kingston you see today was built during the second colonial settlement period, though in many cases it was built on the footprint of the first colonial settlement buildings in the township area. At the end of the penal era the island was handed over to the incoming Pitcairn Islanders in 1856 who remain today. 

Collectively, the remnants of those early settlements leave a beautiful yet often-times haunting snapshot of 18th and 19th century Kingston. This magnificent area of significance is now a living World Heritage listed site largely untouched by modern development, and its layers upon layers of history offer a wonderful insight into the island’s past. 

On Pinetree Tours’ in-depth tour of this World Heritage settlement area their expert guides take you beyond the surface of Kingston and peel back some of its many layers of history to share the area’s secrets and bring it to life.

Explore the New Gaol ruins, the Pier Store, Boat Shed, and Crank Mill, all of which offer a glimpse into the island’s intriguing past and experience first-hand the incredible history of this unique location. Their knowledgeable guides Max, John and Ngaire simply love to share their insights and stories about this captivating place and impart their knowledge to immerse you in the site’s fascinating history.

Pinetree Tours will take you on a journey through this living showcase of Polynesian, convict, and Pitcairn Islander history. You’ll discover the stories behind the colonial headstones in the cemetery and the beautiful historic houses on Quality Row and come away with a deeper appreciation of Kingston’s many stories. And to top off your tour, you’ll enjoy a lovely afternoon tea!

Pinetree Tours have been operating for over 40 years and while their tours range from the fun and frivolous to the more historically centred outings like the Convict Settlement Tour, they are always based on a deep understanding of Norfolk’s history and preserving and sharing its precious and unique stories – It’s what makes them so special. So, whether you are wanting to dress up as a convict for the Night as a Convict dinner or delve a little deeper into the many layers of Kingston’s history – their expert team are here to help. After all, ‘they’ve got Norfolk covered!’


Pinetree Tours’ Convict Settlement Tour is hosted on Tuesday & Thursday afternoons at 1:00pm. Call in and see the friendly team at Pinetree Tours. Their Booking Office is located in the heart of Burnt Pine on Taylors Rd. Ph. (+6723) 22424  e.

Image Credit: Pinetree Tours


Article content disclaimer: Article first published in Discover Norfolk, Volume 06 Issue 02, 2023. Please note that details of specific travel, accommodation and touring options may be outdated. References to people, places and businesses, including operating days and times may be have changed. References to Government structure and Government businesses/entities may no longer be applicable. Please check directly with businesses and/or Government websites directly rather than relying on any information contained in this article before you make travel arrangements.

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