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Governor’s Lodge is one of Norfolk Island’s more modern accommodation establishments, yet visitors who come to dine or stay soon find themselves immersed in the history of the site and of the island. The name ‘Governor’s Lodge’ is, of course, a reference to the island’s colonial past, and the centrepiece of the resort is the Old Bailey Homestead – a beautifully restored island home that is today the site of Bailey’s Restaurant. Delve a little deeper into the site however, and adjacent to Bailey’s you’ll find ‘The Boatshed’ – a nautical-themed dining option set beneath the sails of the large permanent marquee structure that pays homage to Norfolk’s Boatsheds located in Kingston.
There are two main Boatshed buildings in Kingston in the Old Town area around the Kingston Pier. The single Boatshed structure you see today (closest to the Pier) was constructed in 1829 and functioned originally as a Police Officer’s Quarters. The building was converted into a Boatshed by the Pitcairn Islanders in the late 1880s. The double Boatshed was built in 1841 on the footprint of a previous first colonial settlement building from 1796, and like the single Boatshed, it has provided much needed a shelter and respite for Norfolk’s ocean going vessels.
Norfolk’s connection with the ocean cannot be underplayed. It has been vitally important to each of the island’s settlements ever since the Polynesians made the island their home around 1000 years ago. Norfolk Islanders have always had a profound love and respect for the sea, and even now in a modern era that is still very much the case. Until recently cargo was brought ashore on Norfolk-built Lighter Boats, which between visiting cargo ships were housed in Kingston’s Boatsheds. The remnants of old Lighter Boats can still be seen in Kingston as a monument to their hard work and years of service.
Despite changes to the way ocean cargo is brought ashore, the ocean remains a key part of the island’s way of life, and the Boatsheds in Kingston continue play a vital role. A simple look around any part of the island and you will see something that has had some involvement with the sea. That could be the materials used for the building you enter, or the tools used to create it. Maybe the furniture you find in the building or the food you eat there. Basically, the ocean permeates every part of island-life.
Governor’s Lodge opened its doors in the early 2000s and the marquee structure that now houses the Boatshed restaurant was built some years later. It was used as a breakfast and functions venue for several years and has hosted all sorts of events from weddings to awards ceremonies, and even some opera performances. The resort was bought in 2020 by local Mathew Christian-Bailey. Mathew and his team redeveloped and freshened up the site and wanted to create a casual dining venue that would honour some part of island life that was both special and integral to islanders.
Set under the grand sails of the venue marquee it seemed fitting to name the exciting new dining venue ’The Boatshed’. After all it was a place that already held so many special memories for islanders in its former life, and would be a fitting tribute to Norfolk’s Boatsheds which too have a special place in Norfolk’s own modern day history and culture. The bright and relaxing venue remains a special gathering place – a nod to the special place both the Boatsheds and Governor’s Lodge have played in Norfolk’s history.
The modern and fresh setting is perfect for stopping for a casual lunch between your own Norfolk Island tours, events and activities. And while you are relaxing, spare a thought for how the ocean has played a part in the place you are sitting, maybe the coffee you are drinking, or the cup it is served in. There’s a pretty good chance that the ocean has been involved somehow, and a certainty that Norfolk’s Boatsheds have helped to protect the vessels that made it all happen.
The Boatshed is located at Governor’s Lodge on Queen Elizabeth Avenue. Please see the advertisement below or contact the hotel for bookings or further information.
Image Credit: Robin Nisbet. www.robinnisbet.com
Article content disclaimer: Article first published in Discover Norfolk, Volume 06 Issue 02, 2023. 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.