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Jul 15, 2013 13 Comments ›› admin


 Norfolk Island 

Isolation, Savagery, Mystery and Murder

Read an excerpt here 

Listen to a recent radio interview Robert gave about the book to PM’s Mark Colvin

From convicts to mutineers to modern scandals, Robert Macklin taps the history of Norfolk Island.

Robert Macklin has successfully woven together the stories of the early settlement of New South Wales, the history of the penal colony on Norfolk Island and later developments there, and the saga of the Bounty mutineers. This is rich material tapped by other writers like Robert Hughes (The Fatal Shore), Caroline Alexander (The Bounty) and Trevor Lummis (Life and Death in Eden), but in bringing these narratives together Macklin has shone new light on each.

Read the complete review of the book by Peter Corris here



  1. Cossie says:

    I will read your book when it comes out. BUT just briefly, you could have got your facts right for a start. Norfolk Island has NEVER had 100,000 tourists a year. The most was 40,000 and they were very good years.
    You have only looked at the negative side & not given credit for any positives – at least in that interview! We have gorgeous weather, heaps to do, majority of residents are friendly & very helpful. We have practically no crime – as you point out a murder years ago. AND how many murders, shootings, muggings happen in Australia EVERY week??? Give us a break! Norfolk Island is a very safe, friendly, clean place to live or visit. Big deal that our roads have potholes – not the end of the world! And the majority of us would like to be paying Tax & benefiting from the Aussie govt – just like YOU……

    • Chris Fields says:

      We have had no murders in the town l now live in.

    • Rach says:

      Totally agree with you, Cossie. I’ve just spent a week on Norfolk Island and it’s a magical place. The residents we met were lovely and friendly, the rough roads weren’t a problem for getting around, it’s peaceful, scenic and beautiful, and there’s plenty to do.. especially if you’re interested in history. Emily Bay is a great spot for sunbaking and a dip. The food is absolutely delicious and mostly locally grown. You certainly don’t have to look over your shoulder wondering whether you might be mugged or murdered. If you want endless stimulation and activity on a holiday, go to Ibiza or Hawaii! 😉 I hope Norfolk can get itself out of its present economic difficulties as the place has lots to offer. I think there should be more marketing as a romantic couples destination and encourage families with children as it’s safe with plenty of space for them to run around. A negative publication as Macklin has written does the place no favours at all.. accurate and balanced research is a vital ingredient of any supposedly factual portrait of a place and its people.

  2. Sharni-Marie Barney says:

    Your book and your interview with ABC was absolutely disgusting.
    I am a 32 year woman who has now been living here for 4 1/2 years and think the island is one of the most special places I have ever been. Not only is the unpolluted air and the absolute beauty of the place alluring, but the people are some of the most generous and caring people I have ever met.

    I also manage a brand new 5 Star property here and I can tell you now that people LOVE coming here for their holidays or short breaks and DO pay the money to do so because they are sick to death of being overrun by the millions of dull city people, the unrelenting traffic and the stressful lives that they live.

    The main thing I wanted to say to you is that there are a lot of us here with young families who are trying our best to improve the Island WITHOUT the support of the Australian Government and we don’t whinge about the state of things, we just try to present Norfolk Island for the good things it has – rather than airing all the dirty laundry like you have just done.

    Why don’t you talk to some real people who actually live and work quite successfully here and get a different perspective? Obviously you have never had to work hard for your living otherwise you would have more compassion on us who do.

    By the way, for the record, I am a full time working mother (in fact most of us here are) because we don’t get any assistance with child support or health care, so there are still a lot of things that not paying taxes does actually make it VERY hard for us…

    Please get ALL your facts straight before you pass judgement on such a beautiful place. I certainly wont be reading your book as I have no respect for you as an author.

  3. Rael says:

    Your ignorance of Norfolk Island as evidenced by your recent interview on ABC Radio was appalling. The saddest part is that many people will believe such lies and innuendos, and it will have a catatrophic and undeserved impact on the economy and lovely people of the island.

    The highest annual number of tourists to Norfolk Island was 40,000 not 100,000 as you have claimed. The NI Govt. just removed all restictions on Australians who upon arrival, can automatically live, work, operate businesses and invest on Norfolk Island. The NI Govt. has a targeted campaign to bring more tourists to the this island paradise. Visit

    The airline prices average about $550 roundtrip from Australia, and a week’s stay including airfares are often under $1,000. It is the safest place on earth and with a World Heritage Area, white sand beaches, National Park, Shopping, Day Spa’s and over 60 tours and activities, you’ll need to come back year after year to experience this exotic and friendly place. If you personally had nothing to do, I would suggest you get a life, as Norfolk Island has the highest satisfaction rating of all tourist destinations in Australia.

    Your assertion: “Kevin Rudd, as a convict decendent, needs to talk turkey to the Norolk Island Government” – what planet are you on?

    The Norfolk Island Government formally accepted in its parliament the Australian system including income taxes and Australian laws, and has been waiting for two years for the Federal Govt. to do its share. Come on, do your homework – it’s a just a Google click away.

    You have done a serious and immoral disservice to your fellow Australians on Norfolk Island.

  4. Norman Yoke says:

    Mr Macklin: the REAL story re. Norfolk Island is the ‘blackbirding’ of the Pitcairners by deception; …to serve as ‘cheap-labour ‘caretakers’ of the Island – on behalf of Britain/Australia – over the last 157 years.

    They were clearly (mis)led to believe that the Island was to be their new ‘Homeland’, in perpetuity.

    The Island was – incontrovertibly – a ‘Non-Self-Governing Territory’ of the Commonwealth in 1946; & should therefore have been INSCRIBED on the UN List of Non-Self-Governing Territories supervised by the Special Committee on Decolonization or C-24.

    Why was this not done? … is it not the role of the Fourth Estate “to speak truth to power”? … you appear to be more the spruiker, for the ‘Powers that Be’, in this case.

    I have not yet had the opportunity to read your book, but I doubt whether you would have exposed:

    the brutal expulsions of the Islanders from their homes in 1908 by an Australian squad of armed Militia

    the blanket refusal of any kind of assistance by the Commonwealth in the construction of a magnificent trading schooner which the Islanders built without any of the requisite resources or formal skills for shipbuilding – in order that they might trade their way out of poverty:

    the Norfolk Island Printers and Newspapers Ordinance of 1935, which effectively banned Freedom of Speech on Norfolk for over a quarter of a century

    …& the list goes on.

    The persecution of minorities in times of economic stress is a recurrent motif of european-derived societies; I would have expected someone from your rather privileged background, to be a defender against – rather than an enthusiastic practitioner of – such persecution.

    Norman Yoke

  5. Margaret Thompson says:

    Well Mr Macklin, What did you think you could do for Norfolk Island by absolutely trashing the reputation of this beautiful and peaceful island. I am sure that the hard working residents of Norfolk will be outraged by your book of trash and horror. Many places in the world have their dark side but to compare this idyllic island with the killing fields of Cambodia, Auschwitz and Srebrenica is absolutely outrageous.

    The wonderful, friendly people of Norfolk have worked hard over many years to preserve their history and heritage and do not shy away from any bad incidents but they do not treat their island as you have done. You claim your mesmerising tale is true but Mr Macklin let me tell you that is full of lies, innuendo and statements completely false. You have not carried out any historical research. You copied work by the journalist, Robert Hughes whose book has been called by a number of esteemed historians as “The Fatal Slur”. Not only copied his work but embellished and twisted it into a more gruesome and disgusting tale.

    I am extremely angry that your claims have caused immeasurable distress to the many thousands of descendants of Lieutenant Colonel James Thomas Morisset. I have spent many years researching Morisset for the family and I have not found one shred of evidence to support your scurrilous claims of his brutality.

    Your other reference is from the memoirs of a demented old man whose scribbling’s have been quoted as highly unreliable in many publications by highly respected historians. Captain Foster Fyans was described by his own family as the Fanciful Frustrating Fictitious Foster Fyans.

    If you had bothered to undertake correct historical research you would have discovered that whilst on Norfolk Island Fyans described Morisset as a kind and friendly gentleman. His most telling remarks about Morisset were not in his memoirs but in evidence he gave to a Committee on Penal Discipline and I quote “Colonel Morisset was a great disciplinarian – I must say that, about a year and a half, I never saw anything equal to the beautiful discipline of Norfolk Island. There was not as many punishments as people image and, perhaps the same fellows punished, over and over again, when other men were always well-behaved quite different characters.”

    You write of Morisset saying of convicts “ I understand all their priggings”. If you had researched this word you would find that the word ‘prig’ is actually convict slang for thief. If Morisset did not understand convict prigging he would have been a poor commandant. In fact a respected historian from Newcastle writes that Morisset was the best Commandant of Newcastle. He also stated that he did not believe any executive in today’s corporate world could possibly handle the work load, responsibility and onerous task that Morisset faced on a daily basis. It is no small wonder that Morisset eventually had a break down and had to be medevac’d from Norfolk for immediate medical treatment in Sydney.

    You have not only attempted to trash the reputation of beautiful Norfolk Island, the men of good character especially Morisset also the reputation of two women. Your young blue eyed convicted criminal, Frayne did not have a consenting night of joyous sexual pleasure with two young woman who had been goaled. Frayne, a reoffending criminal broke into Government House and sexually assaulted the two women who worked for Colonel Morisset and his family. These woman were so traumatised that Colonel Morisset immediately organised their return to safety in New South Wales.

    I ask you Mr Macklin how would you react to an escaped dangerous prisoner breaking into your home where you resided with your wife and young family.

    Mr Macklin, In this country we do not denigrate a soldier who has been wounded in battle. A soldier fighting and defending his country in a war does not deserve to have his wounded appearance described as hideous and grotesque. This man spent his whole life dedicated to the service of his country firstly as a young soldier and until the day he died as a Public Servant and yet you have the unmitigated gall to trash his name causing distress to his family. You were not content to just smear James Morisset you also had to attack his wife, his children and his brother-in-law.

    There are many more erroneous claims in your book and a letter is being prepared for your publisher, the National Library, Norfolk Island Administration and others highlighting not only the false accusations, innuendo and lies but the spelling and indexing errors.

    Do not bother to reply or make contact with me as I have absolutely no desire to communicate with anyone who peddles such fictitious trash in the name of a true story.

  6. Bill Symonds says:

    Is there anything about Gilbert Robertson in your book, He Was a Jamaican/Scotsman who was on Norfolk for some time. One of his children is buried on the Island. He was some sort of superintendant there

  7. Merrie says:

    I heard you interviewed on Conversations and it was fascinating. I’d love to read your book. Will it be available in the amazon kindle store?

  8. Norman Yoke says:


    3 thoughts on “ROBERT MACKLIN Dark Paradise: Norfolk Island – Isolation, Savagery, Mystery and Murder. Reviewed by Peter Corris”


    Pingback: Dark Paradise – Norfolk Island – Isolation, Savagery, Mystery and Murder | Robert Macklin

    John Chrisy said:

    September 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    The worst book I ever read, an under researched poorly written piece by an amateur author using scandalous mis truths to peddle his doggerel. a waste of apaper


    Linda Funnell said:

    September 17, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Wow, that’s very harsh, John. Is there a book you could recommend to our readers that you believe gives a more accurate account?


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  9. Chris Fields says:

    Great book. 99.9% Correct (former resident). Highly recommend!!

    • Norman Yoke says:

      Chris, Norfolk has seen innumerable ignorant ocker bogans such as yourself come & go over the decades; I can assure you that you would be neither missed nor remembered – Asia, where I live, has created the perfect nomenclature for your type: JAFFA [Just Another Foulmouth Fxxxxng Aussie] … as one of our better Labour PM’s put it: “…the dogs may bark but the caravan moves on” – hopefully you won’t be returning.

      Not that anyone should be surprised, but the world academic authority on Norfolk Island history, regards the book as down-market sensationalist trash … which is no doubt the very reason that your ilk reckon it’s a … ‘Great’ book.

      Dr Tim Causer:

      “…‘Dark Paradise’ is really unreliable. It’s full of historical inaccuracies, errors, and typos, mostly resulting from the lack of engagement with the voluminous archival sources available in Britain and Australia (such as the Van Diemonian conduct records, which have been online since 2008). For instance, one chapter is based on a source which, for fifteen years, has been known to be fraudulent; …and a fictional character is taken to be a real person (not the first time that fiction has become fact in relation to NI’s past). …”

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