KAVHA – National Heritage



2010 has heralded the addition of The Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area (KAVHA) on Norfolk Island to the National Heritage List.  This cultural landscape has exceptional heritage and social values set amidst pristine, unspoilt landscape perfectly balancing classic architecture with stunning vistas.

Significantly KAVHA is also the site of the Island's Government, carrying on the tasks of living and working within the area, thus providing opportunities for education, conservation, interpretation and recreation for the Norfolk Island community and visitors alike.

  • Scientific and archaeological values based on the site's association with four distinct settlement periods in one place - the pre-European Polynesian occupation, two European settlements and a mixed British/European and Polynesian settlement.
  • Substantial ruins and archaeological sub-surface remains, landform and cultural landscape elements are significant as an outstanding example of the development of global convict transportation.
  • The wreck of the Sirius - the flag ship of the First Fleet - on the adjacent reef in 1790.
  • 1856 and the arrival of the Pitcairn Islanders who settled on Norfolk Island in 1856.

Recognised as the traditional focal point of the Norfolk Island community, KAVHA is a diverse site that contains the seat of Government and administration.  Community facilities historic and commemorative sites make it a living asset with huge visitor attraction. Perhaps the most notable attachment to the area is due to the arrival at Kingston Pier in 1856 of the Pitcairn Islanders from whom nearly a half of the Island's population is descended. A fact that is celebrated every 8 June – Bounty Day – without a doubt the most important date on Norfolk’s calendar.

KAVHA is cherished for its aesthetic qualities by locals and tourists alike. The combination of cultural expression, natural forces and their patterns enable a perception and interpretation of the place as a 'picturesque' and 'romantic' landscape. This view is strongly juxtaposed by the strong streetscape quality of the built-elements in 'Quality Row'.

KAVHA also contains important wetland habitat and remnant vegetation which are particularly valuable as a resting-place for migratory birds and in supporting a population of rare crustaceans found only on Norfolk Island.

The KAVHA Conservation Team consists of 9 artisans supported by 5 Ground Maintenance Staff supervised by a Project Manager. All members of the Team are Norfolk Island residents.KAVHA is jointly managed by the Federal and Norfolk Island Governments.

An advisory Management Board has been established consisting of two Norfolk Island Government representatives and two Federal Government representatives.

KAVHA contains one of the finest collections of colonial Georgian buildings in Australia and has international significance as an architectural record of convict settlement from 1788 to 1855. Although many of the original buildings have been lost through demolition, neglect or natural disasters, the remaining buildings and ruins have been stabilised by a program of restoration and conservation begun in the early 1970s.

New Military Barracks

This is an excellent and rare example of a pre-1850 fortified military compound which comprised soldier's barracks, officer's quarters, a military hospital, officer's and soldier's outbuildings and ammunition magazine. The Barracks were completed in 1837 and housed 164 rank and file and four sergeants. The barracks now provides offices for the Norfolk Island Administration and the Office of the Administrator.

Old Military Barracks

This was constructed in late 1829 to 1834. It comprised a central soldiers' barracks with officers' quarters on each side and a military hospital, kitchens, wash-houses and privies at the rear. It was surrounded by a high stone wall with corner turrets. During the third settlement, the main building housed the Island's first Methodist church while others were used for educational and residential purposes. Later the buildings were used by the Burns Philp company and then as a works depot. It currently serves as the chambers of the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly.

Government House

Constructed in 1828 and incorporating part of the 1804 Government House (the third built on the Island) this is one of the earliest and most intact remaining Government House buildings in Australia. It was left unoccupied in 1855 but repaired in 1862 and used as a school and then as a residence for visiting officials and later the Island's magistrates. Since 1913 it has been home to successive Administrators. Open days in aid of various charities are held throughout the year.

No 9 Quality Row

The buildings at Quality Row form one of a row of Georgian houses constructed between 1832 and 1847 as residences for use by military and civil officers and clergymen, separating them from the convicts. The KAVHA Management Board has reconstructed the four room house at No 9 Quality Row to its original configuration in the 1840s (except for the inclusion of contemporary kitchen and bathroom facilities).

Commissariat Store

Completed in 1835, this is regarded as the best surviving example of its type and one of the best examples of Georgian architecture. The basement contained a liquor and general store, the ground floor included a glass partitioned office, meal room, office and store. An engineers store, grain store and office were located on the first floor and on the second another grain store. Goods were moved by a hoist through doors in the north wall.

In 1874 the first floor was removed to create a double storey space for a church and a stained glass window was constructed in the east wall. The ground floor of the building still serves as All Saints Church today.


The site of Norfolk Island's present cemetery was set aside for burials after the 1825 occupation. As in many nineteenth century graveyards, the headstones give detailed evidence of the convict revolts and the lifestyles and causes of death of the Island's early inhabitants.

Polynesian Settlement - Emily Bay

A series of archaeological investigations in recent years revealed substantial remains from a Polynesian settlement at Emily Bay. Beneath the dunes lie the remains of a small village occupied from possibly as early as the 10th to the 15th century AD by East Polynesian voyagers, the first inhabitants of Norfolk Island. They made adzes from the local basalt, built houses and ovens and cooked fish, turtles and mutton birds. In one spot they placed slabs of sandstone to form a small shrine. Upon it were strewn pieces of obsidian which they had bought from Raoul Island, 1,300 km to the east. How or why the settlement ended is unknown. Norfolk Islanders still camp here today, continuing the historical use of the place.



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