Deep in the green heart of this roughly circular island, which is like a piece of regional Australia halfway between New Caledonia and New Zealand, lies Auwas Island Holiday Home. It's a five-minute scenic drive from Norfolk Island's main street, along narrow country roads following the contours of the hills, past Norfolk pine trees and grazing cows, and situated on a hill with views south to Phillip Island six kilometres offshore.
"Auwas" means "our" in Norf'k, a language spoken only on Norfolk Island; the idea is to make this feel like your very own holiday house. A modest bungalow from the outside, inside it's all contemporary island chic with tropical prints, Balinese furniture and dark timber floors. There's everything a holidaying family or group of friends could need or want, from beach towels and board games to a multimedia entertainment system and Nespresso machine. There's also a cosy nook for reading, with a combustion stove for winter nights, and a backyard big enough for games of touch footy. Wi-Fi is available, for $5 per hour.
It's just me rattling around in this three-bedroom house. I could have slept in a different room each night like Goldilocks, but settle on one of the two corner bedrooms with queen bed, timber blinds and a louvre-doored wardrobe. It's country-quiet at night, which takes a little getting used to. The shared main bathroom (one of two) has an enormous freestanding bath, slate feature wall, rainwater shower and Natural Earth toiletries, a nice touch in a self-catering rental.
The kitchen is well equipped to whip up anything from dinner for two to a family feast, which is good news because getting provisions is one of the joys of visiting Norfolk. Strict biosecurity rules mean that almost all the island's food is grown or made there, even coffee, wine and goat's cheese. There are roadside honesty boxes, the farmers market every Saturday (near the Tourist Information Centre) and fruit trees on the Auwas property (guests are welcome to pick avocados, peaches and more from the owner's trees). The island also has more than 30 cafes and restaurants (most featuring fresh local beef and seafood), not bad for an island with only 1600 residents; just make sure to book, even on weeknights (a mobile phone with $10 call credit is included in the room rates).
Norfolk Island might be best known for its fascinating history, but it also has an abundance of outdoor experiences. Baunti Escapes (www.bauntiescapes.com) and Pinetrees (www.pinetreetours.com) are the two main tour operators, offering everything from twilight walks of the former convict settlement at Kingston to foraging tours. There are plenty of free activities too, such as swimming at Emily Bay, walking the island's national park trails and visiting Norfolk's boutique goat farm or winery. See www.norfolkisland.com.au
Secluded, comfortable and contemporary, Auwas is an ideal base for up to six people and makes you feel right at home on this friendly little island.
Auwas Island Holiday Home is at 1 Poverty Row, Norfolk Island. Air New Zealand flies to Norfolk Island four times a week from Sydney and Brisbane (the flight time is about two hours); see www.airnewzealand.com.au. Rates start at $144 a night for two people plus $38 a night for extra people (there are two queen beds and two singles), including a basic mobile phone to use. Car rental costs an extra $30 a day. See norfolkislandholidayhomes.com.au
Louise Southerden was a guest of Norfolk Island Tourism.
The quiet, starry nights and feeling at home from the moment I arrive.
The house is dark inside even on the brightest day and there's nowhere to sit in the sun with your morning cuppa.