Kingston, Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island

Old Military Barracks, now Legislative Assembly Chambers, with Kingston Common in background

Old Military Barracks, now Legislative Assembly Chambers, with Kingston Common in background
Coordinates 29°3′S 167°58′E / 29.050°S 167.967°E / -29.050; 167.967Coordinates: 29°3′S 167°58′E / 29.050°S 167.967°E / -29.050; 167.967
Established 6 March 1788
Postcode(s) 2899
Time zone NFT (UTC+11)
  • 3 km (2 mi) SE of Burnt Pine
  • 2 km (1 mi) S of Middlegate

Kingston (Norf'k laengwij Daun a'Taun[1]) is the capital of the Australian South Pacific Territory of Norfolk Island. The vice-regal, legislative, administrative and judicial offices are all located in Kingston. The town is the second-oldest in Australia, and is of great historical and cultural significance to all Norfolk Islanders and other Australians.


Kingston is located on the east-west aligned Kingston Plain which rises from the coast to about 20 m (66 ft) above sea level in the foothills of the Kingston escarpment. The plain is 1.5 km (0.9 mi) long by about 500 m (1,640 ft) wide, with calcareous lime sands to the south along the coast and basaltic clays to the north along the foothills. The western end of the plain is marked by the 60 m (197 ft) high Flagstaff Hill. Watermill Creek traverses the plain after leaving Arthur's Vale to the north-west, and is joined by Town Creek and several minor tributaries to form the Kingston swamps before draining into Emily Bay. Most of the accessible beaches on the island are located along the Kingston foreshores. Southwards, Emily Bay and Slaughter Bay open into the Kingston lagoon and reefs and the broad expanse of Sydney Bay. Eastwards, Cemetery Bay opens directly into the South Pacific Ocean.


The town was founded on 6 March 1788 by Lieutenant Philip Gidley King and 22 settlers (including 9 male and 6 female convicts) who landed that day from HMT Supply.[2] They had sailed from Port Jackson just a few weeks after the establishment of the British colony of New South Wales. The settlement was initially known as Sidney or Sydney Bay, and by 1796 was being called the Town of Sydney,[3] in honour of Viscount Sydney, British Home Secretary and patron of the First Fleet. King established a house on the hill over the town, but the mass of roots in the ground caused him to call it "rooty hill",[4] which name was also later transferred to Rooty Hill, New South Wales when King later established a house there.

Urban form

The old town dating from 1788 occupies several winding irregular lanes at the head of Kingston Pier. The modern town, as laid out by the Royal Engineers during the 1830s, consists of a Roman-style grid plan. There are two long east west roads: Bay Street along the foreshore and Quality Row, the town's principal thoroughfare, along the foothills. These two boulevards are connected by short cross streets of Pier Street, Bounty Street and the former Bligh Street (now part of the drive to Government House).[5] Small stone bridges carry these streets across Watermill Creek. Four roads wind up country from the edges of the grid: Country Road, Middlegate Road, Rooty Hill Road and Driver Christian Road. All the buildings are located either in the old town or along Quality Row, with the exception of Government House which is located on a small knoll called Dove's Plot Hill. The middle and west of the plain forms the Kingston Common and Kingston Recreation Ground, with the golf links occupying the eastern end, and Kingston Cemetery in the north-east. This broad greensward with the Kingston swamp in its centre separates the two long boulevards.

Municipal governance

There is no level of municipal governance in Norfolk Island, and the town has no formal boundaries. Municipal functions such as rubbish collection and maintaining public toilets and beachside change rooms are undertaken by the Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area Conservation & Maintenance Team. The town has no distinctive emblems or civic heraldry.

Nearby towns and hamlets

The town of Burnt Pine is about 3 km (1.9 mi) to the north-west, and the hamlet of Middlegate is about 2 km (1.2 mi) to the north. The uninhabited Nepean Island and Philip Island dominate the sea view from Kingston.

World Heritage Area

Kingston is in the centre of the Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List on 31 July 2010 as one of the group of eleven Australian Convict Sites.

Notable sites in Kingston and nearby


  1. Buffett, Alice Inez, Speak Norfolk Today: An Encyclopedia of the Norfolk Island language, Himii Publishing, Norfolk Island 1999: 24
  2. Hoare, Merval, Norfolk Island: a revised and enlarged history 1774–1998, CQUP, Rockhampton 2003 (5th ed): 9–10
  3. 'View of the Town of Sydney, Norfolk Island', 1796, watercolour by WN Chapman, in Hoare, op.cit., plate 2
  4. Rooty Hill Road, Kingston, Norfolk Island, Google Maps, accessed 7 March 2013
  5. Baskerville, Bruce, 'Kingston: one of the South Pacific's oldest colonial towns', 2899 Norfolk Island Lifestyle Magazine, Vol 2, Issue 2, 2010: 47–52
  6. Smith, Nan, Convict Kingston: a guide, Nan Smith, Norfolk Island 1997
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