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Why I wrote Point Venus
Portrait of an Island

My first encounter with Norfolk Island, a speck of land lying a thousand miles off the east coast of Australia, was as a young man on holiday from university in Sydney in 1969. Being Australian, I have travelled around the idyllic South Seas a great deal, but Norfolk seemed mysteriously cemented into my consciousness and I felt compelled to settle there for a while. The layers of history fascinated me - first the pre-history of an island visited and later abandoned by Polynesians, then in the nineteenth century as the most cruel and terrifying penal settlement of the entire period of convict transportation from Britain to Australia, and finally the island paradise where Queen Victoria resettled many of the descendants from the crew of the mutiny on the Bounty when they began to outgrow Pitcairn Island.

The superb sub-tropical landscape is covered in endemic pines, lush rainforests and dotted with fine Georgian buildings. Stunning beaches punctuate the shore. The graceful and charming descendants of the Pitcairners, known long ago as 'the children of Eden', readily befriended me. I learned their 'Norfolk' language, a tongue uniquely forged from the love affair between the mutinous English sailors and their Polynesian lovers. I fell deeply in love with a beautiful and sensual part-Polynesian descendant of the Bounty mutiny and listened to a great deal of music in the still Pacific nights under the stars. I lived on a cliff above the sea, opened a 'coffee lounge' (the first on the island), and as the broadcasting officer for the administration, helped set up the first radio station. I also drove my dilapidated MGA around the dusty coral roads in fine style. It was a great life. In the novel I attempted to capture all the historical periods of the island - in particular the mysterious symbiosis of beauty and cruelty that existed during the penal settlement era. Interwoven with this history is a contemporary story - the destiny of a young musician in the early 1970s encountering Oceania for the first time. Those years were a period of exuberance and liberation, of innocent joy the like of which we will probably never see again. I wrote the book in London and Cornwall some twenty-five years later during a period of great emotional isolation, hoping to lift my gloom with memories of the tropical sun and a gloriously misspent youth. It did.
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