A stunning historic townsite, Kingston's beautiful Georgian colonial architectural gems belie its tragic past. The capital of Norfolk Island and the seat of government, Kingston was settled in March 1788, just weeks after Sydney was established on the Australian mainland. The second settlement from 1825 to 1855 saw the beautiful island turned into the "Hell of the Pacific," when some 1,200 convicted toiled here in a labor camp and received the harshest of treatments. They built many of the beautiful buildings standing today. The 194 Pitcairn Islanders, who arrived in 1856, make up the third settlement—these folk (all descendants of the Bounty mutineers) are the ancestors of today's Norfolk Islanders. More than a dozen buildings and ruins (dating from the 1790s to the 1850s) flank the main street of Quality Row and nearby Bay Street, including the Marine Barracks, Piper's Boat Shed, the Old Military Barracks (now used as the island's legislative assembly), the Officers' Bath,
and the Royal Engineers' Office, now trading as the REO Cafe. It's a treat to walk along the streets, visiting the museum and crossing over the small stone bridges. Not far away on Dove's Plot hill is the beautiful Governor's House, built in 1804 and rebuilt in 1828—it's the oldest remaining and functioning vice-regal building in Australia. A sound-and-light show takes place on Monday, Wednesday, Thusday, Friday, and Saturday nights (A$48). Kingston was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2010 as one of 11 significant convict sites in Australia.