As we drive down the lane from the airport, Daisy the cow strolls into the middle of the road, followed by Gertrude and Mabel. They look at us with big brown eyes and blink contentedly, but they don't move. I've no idea what the cows are really called, but we name them because clearly they are ladies of substance and intend on taking their time, so we just have to wait. Finally, Daisy's ample bottom disappears into a nearby hedge and we can move on...but not before a crazy cockerel with a death wish dashes across the road, tail feathers flying.
Clearly cows rule and kamikaze cockerels are all free range. The message is clear: drive slowly, enjoy the view and take time to smell the roses. This is Norfolk Island, a tiny dot of peace in the middle of the Pacific where the pace is leisurely and everything seems to hark back to a more idyllic age.
Once upon a time, Norfolk Island was where granny went on a coach tour. Not any more; Norfolk is a perfect island for families, and not just because of its animal menagerie. There is an amazing array of healthy, happy, outdoorsy pleasures for children to enjoy - this is how holidays used to be before theme parks and PlayStation took over.
There is no KFC or McDonald's to tempt kids here; no fast-food restaurants, no chain stores, no traffic lights and only one roundabout on the whole island. There is no public transport either, so hiring a car is a must because there is so much for families to see and do all over this pretty and underrated isle.
Driving up to Mount Pitt with its 360-degree views of the island, we get an idea of what is on offer. From our vantage point, we look down on shallow lagoons, sheltered snorkelling spots, hidden beaches ringed with sentry-like Norfolk pine trees, pristine forest and rolling hills.
Norfolk Island is also a living history lesson. The founding families of Norfolk are all descendants of the Pitcairn Islanders and the story of Captain Bligh, Fletcher Christian and The Bounty will have children enthralled. Most impressive is the Fletcher's Mutiny Cyclorama, beautifully painted by a local artist, and the Norfolk Island Museum, dominated by a huge 1.7-metre anchor from the shipwreck of the HMS Sirius. In the evening, take the children to the sound and light show at the World Heritage Kingston convict settlement or the re-enactment of the mutiny, every Tuesday night performed by real-life descendants of the mutineers. This is the only destination I've ever been to where it is worth having your children read the local phone book; since Christians and Adams abound, people are listed by their nicknames: Baldy, Barely, Bash, Cane Toad, Crowbar, Diesel, Devil, Pixie, Pooh, Snobbles, Snoop...the list goes on. Best of all, many of the islanders still speak in a Pitcairn/Norfolk Dialect which is a mix of everything from Tahitian to Creole with a little Scottish thrown in.