If someone asked you what the top five tourist attractions in Australia were, no doubt the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge would spring to mind immediately. But according to the Trip Advisor 2014 Traveller’s Choice Awards, Norfolk Island’s ‘Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama’ is also among them. Perhaps that explains why it was the only Norfolk attraction included in the crowded itinerary for the former Governor General, Dame Quentin Bryce when she visited in 2013.
If you have never heard of a ‘cyclorama’ you are not alone. To start with, it has nothing to do with bicycles. Invented in the 1700s, cycloramas were 360° panoramic paintings of spectacular landscapes or world events that people would view from inside a cylindrical building. They were huge attractions numbering in their hundreds across Europe and the USA until the arrival of cinemas. Norfolk Island’s Cyclorama is one of a growing new breed of panoramic paintings. It literally tells the story of Norfolk Island’s people, including Fletcher Christian’s mutiny on the ‘Bounty’, and the events that led up to it and transpired as a result. One of the most significant results was the arrival of the Bounty descendants on Norfolk Island after their population had outgrown tiny Pitcairn Island in the far eastern reaches of the Pacific Ocean. Unlike an aboriginal songline or English legend, this story, though filled with passion, romance, adventure and skulduggery, is a record of real events.
Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama nearly always takes visitors by surprise, as the following comments from Trip Advisor demonstrate: “Wasn’t expecting an attraction of this calibre on such a small island…” “Didn’t know what to expect but was delighted with the result…”
Painstakingly planned, designed and painted by two local women, Sue Draper and Tracey Yager, (a descendant of the mutineers of the Bounty), the cyclorama is not only a massive painting, it is a total sensory experience. A haunting sound track produced by another Norfolk Islander, musician Rick Robertson, accompanies the scenes and helps to evoke the atmosphere and emotional response associated with the events depicted.
There have been many representations of the mutiny on the Bounty over the years, including Hollywood movies, documentaries, re-enactments, a comic book, plays, poems and songs. The cyclorama is not just ‘another’, it is literally a masterpiece integrating multi-disciplinary artistic flair and design excellence. From the minute you walk into the first scene, the story springs to life around you. As you stand on the promenade deck of your virtual surveillance vessel, you become a witness to the events that unfold. It is theatre, art, music and museum, all seamlessly rolled into one, and it doesn’t feel like any one of them; it is enthralling!
Who would have thought that an eighteenth century mass entertainment device like a ‘cyclorama’ would be so effective in the twenty-first century era of touch technologies? Actually, it was the brainchild of octogenarian entrepreneur and Norfolk Island living treasure, Marie Bailey. A sixth generation descendant of Fletcher Christian, Marie was inspired by the cyclorama that she saw in Canada. She believed it was the perfect medium for immersing people in the Bounty story – and how right she was.
Trip Advisor is used by people who want to have their say about travel experiences. The Trip Advisor People’s Choice Awards is a means of recognising the most acclaimed tourist attractions for the past year. So many people nominated Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama, it was placed fifth after the Australian War Memorial, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Ubirr, Jabiru, outshining such icons as Port Arthur and Freemantle Prison.
Open seven days a week, the Cyclorama is located on Queen Elizabeth Avenue and is part of the Gallery Guava and Hilli Restaurant complex. Entry tickets are available in Gallery Guava, which is itself a delightful treasure trove of locally inspired artwork and jewellery. Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama is a unique travel experience waiting for you on Norfolk.
To learn more about Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama, please visit:
Image Credit: Robin Nisbet
Article content disclaimer: Article first published in YourWorld, Volume 05 Issue 01, 2015. Please note that details of specific travel, accommodation and touring options may be outdated. References to people, places and businesses, including operating days and times may be have changed. References to Government structure and Government businesses/entities may no longer be applicable. Please check directly with businesses and/or Government websites directly rather than relying on any information contained in this article before you make travel arrangements.