Located 1600 kilometres north-east of Sydney, the 3455-hectare island is one of 11 World Heritage-listed Australian convict sites. Its settlement history included Polynesian seafarers (13th to 15th centuries), before British settlement in March 1788, just weeks after the First Fleet dropped anchor in Sydney.

The 318-metre Mount Bates offers a natural vantage point and there’s a nine-hole golf course with a clubhouse built in the 1840s to accommodate the local magistrate. With only 1800 permanent residents and 67 accommodation options offering a total of 1620 beds, social distancing is a breeze.

For all these reasons, Norfolk is popping up on several upmarket itineraries, including Scenic’s eight-day land-based Norfolk experience, departing every month from January next year ($3725 a person with the early bird discount applied). Captain’s Choice has it on an April 2021 itinerary. Or you can make your own way there. The island’s most luxurious accommodation options are Tintoela of Norfolk (from $485 a night for a one-bedroom cottage) and The Tin Sheds Norfolk Island (from $275 a night).

The island closed its borders on March 17, then reopened in July with restrictions, and travellers from Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory can visit freely without quarantining. Flights depart from Brisbane and Sydney.

TO BOOK see tintoela.com and norfolkisland.com.au or call 1800 214 603.

Colour us happy

Parrtjima’s Festival of light outside Alice Springs showcases “the oldest continuous culture on earth through the newest technology”. 

Before its 10-day run to September 20 had even finished, organisers announced the Parrtjima light festival would return to the Alice Springs Desert Park from April 9 to 18 next year. When it was first held in 2016, the free annual event was billed as the world’s first Indigenous light show. In Arrernte language, Parrtjima means “lighting up”. Parrtjima’s curator, Rhoda Roberts, positions it as “the only authentic Aboriginal festival of its kind, showcasing the oldest continuous culture on earth through the newest technology – all on the 300-million-year-old natural canvas of the MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia”. Not a bad marketing spiel. Let’s hope more of us can fly up next year to marvel at the desert lit up.

TO BOOK See parrtjimaaustralia.com.au and northernterritory.com

Definitely no crowds

An emperor penguin colony near Mawson Station, Australian Antarctica Territory. Getty

Antarctica’s summer season starts in October, but even the southernmost continent has been affected by current events, with only half the usual number of Australian expeditioners travelling south this season to the Davis, Mawson and Casey research stations in Antarctica and the subantarctic Macquarie Island station. While many science projects are on hold for a year, about 250 scientists and personnel will keep the research stations operational and maintain wildlife and climate monitoring projects.
A number of cruise lines – including National Geographic and Hurtigruten – are advertising Antarctica cruises from the end of the year into next year.

STAY UPDATED on the Australian Antarctic Program at antarctica.gov.au

A timely tour

The “Wartime Sydney” tour on Saturday, November 14, explores the city’s key wartime sites such as the Domain where air raid shelters were once built.  State Library of Victoria

Sydneysiders holidaying at home may like to spend a day discovering their city’s rich wartime history. To mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, Sydney historian Dr Peter Hobbins is collaborating with Renaissance Tours to lead “Wartime Sydney”, a full-day tour on Saturday, November 14, exploring on the city’s key wartime sites. “Not many Sydneysiders know that the Royal Australian Navy shot down an aircraft that was threatening our city at the height of the Cold War or that a secret air defence headquarters was built way beneath St James Station in Hyde Park,” says Dr Hobbins. The tour includes lunch in the private dining room at the Tilbury Hotel, Woolloomooloo.

TO BOOK See renaissancetours.com.au or call 1300 727 095. $475 a person.

New digs

The Chau Chak Wing Museum at The University of Sydney brings together four collections of art and antiquities. Anthony Fretwell

The University of Sydney’s extensive art and antiquities collections now have a new home. The newly-built Chau Chak Wing Museum will open on November 18 with 18 exhibitions over four levels, bringing together the university’s Nicholson, Macleay and art collections. The Nicholson Collection is the largest assemblage of antiquities in the southern hemisphere; the Macleay is the oldest natural history collection in the country. The museum’s namesake is Chinese-Australian property developer Chau Chak Wing, who donated $15 million towards the building, designed by Sydney architects Johnson Pilton Walker.

Marble head of a woman, Roman, 1st century AD, from the Nicholson Collection – the largest collection of antiquities in the southern hemisphere. The University of Sydney

TO VISIT see sydney.edu.au/museum/. Free entry



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