Herbert Ford, 559-592-0980, 559-732-0313.
VETERAN STAMP DESIGNER ASSIGNED TO CREATE PITCAIRN ISLANDS DARWIN ANNIVERSARY ISSUE
PITCAIRN ISLAND, SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN, April 26, 2009—On the eve of the 220th anniversary of the famed mutiny at sea that led to its becoming a hiding place from the world, tiny Pitcairn is now inviting the world to its shores.
On April 28, 1789, sailors aboard the British naval vessel H.M.S. Bounty, revolted against their captain while the ship was sailing among the Tongan islands. To escape punishment, a number of them fled to remote Pitcairn island. It was nearly two decades later before the world knew the mutineers had settled on the then uninhabited island.
Today Pitcairn Island's some 60 inhabitants, 51 of whom are descendants of the mutineers, is saying to the world, "Come visit us."
Characterizing itself as a premier get-away-from-it-all vacation spot, the island is gearing up to accommodate tourists who want a taste of adventure along with the leisure one finds at everyday tourist attractions. An important aspect of Pitcairn's allure, say former visitors, is the ease with which one can be alone with nature and the sea there.
The difficult of travel to and from Pitcairn is being solved with the start of a shipping service from New Zealand and Mangareva in the Gambier Islands of French Polynesia. Stoney Creek Shipping Company in New Zealand plans the September 2009 start of a passenger-freight service that will allow tourist visits of three, eight, 24, 60 or 90-day visits to the island.
The Mangareva to Pitcairn trips involve a once-a-week Air Tahiti flight from Papeete, Tahiti, to Mangareva, and then a two-day voyage by ship to the 300-mile distant Pitcairn.
Already more than half a dozen cruise ship companies are calling for short visits at Pitcairn as part of their South Seas itineraries. Through the peaceful, friendly atmosphere found in these usually less than a daylong visits, a number of the passengers are drawn back to the island for longer stays.
The adventure part of a Pitcairn vacation includes an always adventurous ride in a island longboat from the ship to shore through often heavy surf in to the tiny, rocky inlet at Bounty Bay. Scaling the towering cliffs that surround the island can make for additional heart-stopping adventure, as can fishing expeditions in the fish-rich Pitcairn waters, or longboat travel to Henderson or Oeno islands of the Pitcairn group.
Though it is still considered one of the world's most remote islands, Pitcairn is Internet connected and has telephone service. It has plans for windpower to provide electricity on a 24-hour-a-day basis. Its health service center is physician staffed, although the closest hospital is 1,200 miles away at Papeete.
Pitcairn visitors stay in islanders' homes, eat the delicious home-cooked foods that come from stone and more modern ovens. A unique Pitcairn custom has been that at whatever home one finds himself near at meal time, he or she is welcomed to come in and enjoy the bounty of the table.
Among many other island attractions are a museum that is loaded with artifacts, relics from H.M.S. Bounty, and historical records.
At other sites on Pitcairn visitors can view cannons taken from the Bounty, anchors from nearby shipwrecks, various historical plaques. Visitors also enjoy an eco-walk containing many native plans and trees, and a visit to the grave of John Adams, last of the Bounty mutineers who is credited with saving the small Pitcairn colony from extinction in the early 1800s.
Though only roughly one mile wide by two miles long, those who trek through Pitcairn's wooded valleys and or lofty peaks get the impression of a much larger place. In hiking the lands away from the small village of Adamstown, one might come upon one or more of the island's small army of wild goats, or perhaps even catch a glimpse of Ms. Turpen, Pitcairn's solitary Galapagos giant tortoise, a sometimes raider of the islanders' gardens.