Norfolk Island is an island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia, and is one of Australia's external territories.
The Norfolk Island pine, also pictured in the flag, is a very striking evergreen tree endemic to the island and is quite popular in Australia, where two related species grow.
The finding of stone adzes and other implements suggests that Norfolk Island was once used by seafaring Polynesian people as a brief stop-over point.
However, no trace of permanent settlement has been found.
The first European known to have sighted the island was Captain James Cook, in 1774, on his second voyage to the South Pacific in the Resolution.
He named it after the wife of the premier peer of Britain, Edward Howard, 9th Duke of Norfolk .
Cook went ashore on Tuesday 11 October 1774, and was impressed with the tall straight trees and flax-like plants.
He took samples back to England and reported on their potential uses for the British Navy.
They also relied on timbers from New England for mainmasts, and these were not supplied after the American War of Independence.
The alternative source of Norfolk Island for these supplies is argued by some historians, notably Geoffrey Blainey in The Tyranny of Distance, as being a major reason for the founding of the convict settlement of New South Wales by the First Fleet in 1788.
Before the First Fleet sailed to found a convict settlement in New South Wales, Governor Arthur Phillip's final instructions, received less than three weeks before sailing, included the requirement to colonize Norfolk Island to prevent it falling into the hands of France, whose naval leaders were also showing interest in the Pacific.
When the fleet arrived at Port Jackson in January 1788, Phillip ordered Lieutenant Philip Gidley King to lead a party of fifteen convicts and seven free men to take control of the island and prepare for its commercial development.
They arrived on 6 March 1788.It was soon found that the flax was difficult to prepare for manufacturing and no one had the necessary skills.
An attempt was made to bring two Maori men to teach the skills of dressing and weaving flax, but this failed when it was discovered that weaving was women's work and the two men had little knowledge of it.
The pine timber was found to be not resilient enough for masts and this industry was also abandoned.
More convicts were sent, and the island was seen as a farm, supplying Sydney with grain and vegetables during its early years of near-starvation.
However, crops often failed due to the salty wind, rats and caterpillars.
The lack of a natural safe harbour hindered communication and the transport of supplies and produce.
The Norfolk Island Act, passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1979, is the Act under which the island is governed.