A hidden bounty of opportunity, a haven for lost travellers…
In 1790 a small band of Europeans and Polynesians watched as their connection to the outside world went up in flames. HMAV Bounty was burning, set alight by mutineer Mathew Quintal. The twenty-eight settlers on lonely Pitcairn Island had to make the most of their new home, in spite of friction and isolation. Ultimately, the survival of this rare culture relied upon the islanders’ resourcefulness, kind moral code and sense of community responsibility. In 1856 the entire Pitcairn Island population relocated to Norfolk Island, though small groups of homesick islanders returned to Pitcairn in 1858 and 1864. Under their care the island once again flourished with productivity, and the Pitcairners continued to share their amazing legacy with the wider world. Those travellers onboard passing ships have glanced briefly at life on Pitcairn - with a handcrafted souvenir to prove it – though the true Pitcairn experience has been the privilege of few. As the island opens itself up to share with visitors, it presents an opportunity of a lifetime: travel which is authentic, unique, historic and inspiring. The multi-skilled owners of the homestays are exceptional tour guides, cooks and historians, and with gardening, bee keeping, carving, cooking, tapa cloth making, fishing, domestic chores, family life and much more, no two days are the same on this industrious little island. With quad bikes and 4 wheel drive vehicles as the main means of transportation and electricity available only between 7.00am – 10.00pm, Pitcairn Island is a true escape from a busy world, a fulfilling respite for any world-weary traveller.
The Pitcairn Group
There are four islands which make up the Pitcairn Island Group: Pitcairn, Ducie, Oeno and Henderson. All but Pitcairn are uninhabited, though they each have human stories. Havens for wildlife both above and below the ocean, the Pitcairn Islands are among the world’s most pristine natural environments. Travel opportunities to the outer islands of Oeno, Ducie and Henderson are rare, though they do occur.
Lying 169 kilometres north east of Pitcairn, Henderson Island was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. Unattractive to human settlers for its largely inhospitable landscape, it is a chosen nesting site for an array of birds from Boobies, Gannets and Petrels, to the endangered Henderson Rail and colourful Fruit Dove. Land crabs have colonised Henderson, as have the Polynesian rat. After the Pitcairners first visited Henderson in 1851, the island became a yearly source of Miro wood and saplings for their carvings - until the Miro established itself on Pitcairn. Early Polynesians and shipwrecked mariners are among those that once spent time on Henderson Island, though the true owners of today are the flying wildlife.
Oeno lies 120 kilometres north-west of Pitcairn. A low lying atoll inside a turquoise lagoon, Oeno is a Pacific beauty, home to a wide variety of birds and also a special ‘island retreat’ for the people of Pitcairn. The gorgeous white sand beaches of Oeno are not found on rocky Pitcairn, so holiday trips were organised in the heat of summer. Oeno is rarely visited these days, though accidental visitors have left their remains on the island’s reef and shifting sandbar; anchors and piles of chain testify to the hidden dangers of this untouched paradise.
Ducie Island was first sighted by Captain Edwards of HMS Pandora on his mission to find the Bounty Mutineers in 1791. Luckily for the mutineers on Pitcairn, just 470 km away, Captain Edwards passed through the Pitcairn Island group without any suspicion. Only six metres above sea level, the atoll has few trees, no undergrowth and no fresh water. Birds and lizards call the island home, which now thrive in a rat-free environment due to an eradication program in 1997. Several ships have wrecked on the low-lying atoll, perhaps the most well known being the British ship Arcadia whose crew made it to Pitcairn, some even marrying and settling on the island.GREAT DEaLS