Norfolk Island jail.
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Norfolk is located in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean just over 1,400 kms (877 miles) from the Australian mainland. It lies between New Zealand and New Caledonia.
Together with Phillip Island and Nepean Island the island makes up the Territory of Norfolk Island, an external territory of the Commonwealth of Australia.
When European explorers – under Captain James Cook – first found the island in the 18th century it was uninhabited but later archaeological expeditions found evidence of Polynesian and Melanesian artifacts indicating they lived here in the 13th or 14th centuries.
The American Revolutionary War – beginning in 1775 – gave the British a number of issues, one of them being having nowhere to send prisoners anymore. As the British Prisons began to quickly become overcrowded a solution was needed; quickly.
The solution was the new territory of Australia including it’s outlying islands; Norfolk being one of them.
From 1788 to 1814 it was used as a penal colony but eventually became too expensive due to the distance from mainland Australia.
In 1824 the Governor of the New South Wales was told by the British Government to reopen the island for the worst of the worst convicts. The distance would considered an asset as there was absolutely no place for these hardened men to go.
Basically everyone on Norfolk at this point had chosen between either the island or the gallows. Although Colonial records recently found indicate this may not have been true and that at least half of the men on Norfolk hadn’t even been convicted by Colonial Law.
In 1856 all prisoners were moved to Port Arthur in Tasmania and the descendants of the Bounty mutineers as well as some Tahitians moved to Norfolk from Pitcairn Island which was now too small to hold their population.
During the reminder of the 19th and into the 20th centuries the island was used by the whalers as a station and for colonization.
On July 1, 1914, ownership of the islands was transferred to Australia.
During the Second World War the island was used as an air base and refueling depot by the allies and was garrisoned by the New Zealand Army. It was too remote to ever be bombed and was abandoned in 1944.
In 1979 Australia granted the island partial self-government allowing them to elect a council which made the majority of the decisions.
In 2015 after a variety of events Australia revoked the self-government and replaced it with an Australian administrator and administering council. The island’s population was decidedly unhappy about this and even made a complaint to the United Nations.
Yes, the entire island is said to be haunted. On mainland Australia or the United States and Canada it is said about half the population believes in ghosts on Norfolk Island about half the population has had a direct experience with a ghost.
As for believing in the paranormal, well, that’s closer to 95%.
At only 34.6 square kilometers (13.56 square miles) the island is said to have more ghosts per square kilometer than any other area of land in the world. Poveglia Island in Italy is the only place I can think that could give this island a run for the money.
Stories of hauntings and ghosts date back for over a century.
So why so haunted?
Most people believe it has to do with it’s history as a convict colony. Legend tells stories of, at times, a lawless colony where only the strong survived and the weak were pounded out of existence. At this point it really doesn’t matter whether the stories and legends are true (and who’s to say they’re not; none of us were on the island in the 19th century).
There are numerous ghost tours on the island and paranormal tourism accounts for a large percentage of their economy.
Undeniably, some of the most violent criminals in the Empire were shipped here to serve their sentences.
The road Quality Row is said to be the most haunted part of the island; and one of the most haunted streets in the world. It also contains one of the most haunted houses on Earth.
The apparitions of soldiers from the 18th and 19th century have been seen here for over a century. Women in 19th and early 20th century clothing eternally walk this street as well. Most chillingly the phantom sounds of chains clanking as if a chain gang was marching down the street.
The Research Centre at 9 Quality Row – an unassuming Georgian style cottage – is said to be the most haunted house on the island as well one of the most haunted buildings on the planet.
There are uncountable photos taken here showing partial or full body apparitions both in rooms and in the windows of this house and other unexplainable visible phenomena. There are also photos of something in this house that is, decidedly, not human.
The old cemetery, from the second penal colony, gives people chills as well as feelings of not being alone and being watched. The apparitions of the former inmates – some still showing the injuries that led to their deaths – are sometimes seen on the grounds.
Government House – once the residence of the island’s Governor – is also haunted by former residents and visitors. The apparitions of soldiers in full dress uniforms and women in what is called “very expensive dresses” are frequently seen in and around the house. Disembodied voices and other unexplained noises are also heard as well as touches by unseen presences and feelings of not being alone.
On the road out to the cable station apparitions have been seen along the road side after dark. The most famous ghost here stands on the cliff at the end of the road staring out into the sea. He is thought to be a prisoner forever waiting for a boat to come to pick him up. In life he finally got tired of waiting and waded into the sea where he drowned. Anyone approaching this ghost says he disappears long before he can be reached.
At Limerick Cottage the ghost of “Lady Jane” is reported. She generally appears as a bright light that morphs into a beautiful woman with pale skin. Despite her nickname the ghost is probably that of Susannah Pery who died shortly after giving birth in 1841 here; her infant daughter also died.
She is buried in the old graveyard and people report hearing noises as if someone is being straggled to death on certain nights. The cause of Susannah’s death is not recorded anywhere, and it may be her husband murdered her.