05 March 2015
The commemoration of Foundation Day is an important reminder of the long held and close bonds between the Australian mainland and the Territory of Norfolk Island.
Like Australia Day, ANZAC Day and Bounty Day, Foundation Day is another opportunity to pay tribute to those who came before us. So today, we celebrate some of the history which made us who we are.
Today Norfolk Island can boast the ancient heritage of Polynesian settlements, the modern foundations established by the British 227 years ago and the character of many cultures and traditions brought since the third settlement began in 1856.
The arrival of the First Fleet to Norfolk Island under the command of Lt Phillip Gidley King in March 1788 is a story told in Australian primary schools. King raised the flag at Sydney Bay on 6 March 1788 after stepping ashore a few days earlier and travelling across Island from the north coast near Anson Bay.
Over the next three decades a resilient farming settlement was built. The population grew to be similar to today's permanent population of 1360. Norfolk Island provided for the food needs of the growing Sydney Cove settlement on the mainland.
In very short time, land on Norfolk Island was allocated to the farming first families. As free settlers they won arable land from the native vegetation and much of their hard work is still at the heart of farming activities on Norfolk Island today.
The road now called Middlegate has been a thoroughfare since it was established by the hard work of the first families in the time of King. In the 1790s it was known as the Sydney-Phillipsburgh Road connecting the settlement at Sydney, what we now call Kingston, with the equally historic Phillipsburgh settlement near Cascade.
The history of this first European settlement is important to Australia's history and is at the heart of why so many come from the mainland to visit Norfolk Island 227 years after King arrived.
The dozens of first families" names should never be forgotten. They were pioneers of Australia here on Norfolk Island. Many modern day residents of Norfolk Island proudly boast their direct family connection with these pioneers.
The Hon. Gary Hardgrave