Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Description of Norfolk Island


Phillip Gidley King
Philip Gidley King was appointed Superintendent and Commandant of Norfolk Island in February 1788. He departed Sydney for Norfolk Island in the Supply, commanded by Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball.

Accompanying them were a petty officer, surgeon's mate, two marines, two men who understood cultivation of flax and 9 men and 6 female convicts.

Governor Phillip to Lord Sydney,
Sydney Cove, New South Wales, May 15th 1788 {Extract}

My Lord -

Lieutenant Ball, who commands the Supply, arrived the 19th of March. He made Norfolk Island on the 29th February, and was five days before a place could be found at which it was possible to land the provisions, and saw very few places at which it was possible to land a man, so compleatly do the rocks surround that island.

They succeeded, however, having found a small opening in a reef that runs across a bay that is at the south end of the island, and the six months' provisions were all safely landed.

Lieut. King describes this island as one intire wood, without a single acre of clear land that had been found when the Supply left them, and says that the pine-trees rise fifty and sixty feet before they shoot out any branches. There are several other kinds of timber on the island, which, as far as he could examine it, was a rich black mould, with great quantities of pumice-stone. The trees are so bound together by a kind of supply-jack that the penetrating into the interior parts of the island was very difficult.

Several good springs of water were found, and I apprehend his Majesty's ships in the East Indies may be supplied from this island with masts and yards, which will render it a very valuable acquisition.

The cultivation of the flax-plant will be attended when people can be sent to clear the ground.

(Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Vol. 1., 1788 - 1796, Governor's Despatches to and from England 1788- 1796. p21)