National Library of Australia podcast

Fellowship Presentation: The Eastern Isle - Norfolk Island in colonial art and writings

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The colonial heritage of Norfolk Island is little known to most Australians. 2020 NLA Fellow, Alisa Bunbury’s recent research comprises a careful and structured examination of visual imagery created during the various stages of its settlement during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These images show the difficulties of contact and communication with its steep cliffs and dangerous reef; the clearing of the land for agricultural purposes; the indigenous flora and fauna, including rare documentation of species driven to extinction; and the built environment, including the long-demolished first settlement and the later penitentiary buildings, the ruins of which are now World Heritage listed. Written records and recollections complement the visual material, ranging from diaries, letters and naval journals to published accounts of visits, official appointments or the horrendous treatment endured by convicts imprisoned there. Alisa’s research aims to bring the numerous stories of this tiny island to light in time for the 250th anniversary of the Resolution's crew sighting Norfolk Island in 2024.

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