Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Sunday. We are anchored near Mystery Island, a deserted island about 1.5 kilometres offshore from Anatom Island, a mountainous timbered island about 200 miles from Vila, Vanuatu.

The ship has lowered four tenders (lifeboats) and passengers can go ashore to swim, get melanomas and buy tacky trinkets from stalls set up by locals from the main island. A walk around the entire island takes 45 minutes and there is a reasonable airstrip still in use after U.S. forces left in 1945. Locals do not live on Mystery Island because ‘spirits’ turn up at night time. More likely because it looks like it is only a metre above sea level, so doesn’t have much in the way of arable land or fresh water.

In Noumea there are still long huts in use as accommodation which were part of a U.S. military hospital for casualties of the many South Pacific battles from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima. They must have had good termite control to last this long. From 1942-45 there were over a million Yanks stationed or hospitalised in Noumea. On a hill overlooking the city are two large coastal guns installed by a contingent of Australian troops (Robin Force) as pre-war aid to the French. Say what?! I photographed the serial numbers of one of the guns in case I find someone interested in such artillery.
Coastal gun with graffiti and a mother trying to console a cranky kid.

Late news from cruise ship Pacific Dawn.
P&O has cleaned up its act after some very damaging publicity following the death of a female passenger in very grubby circumstances some 5 years ago. Yesterday the word getting around is that two passengers were kicked off the ship at Noumea and had to find their own way back to Sydney. Harsh treatment! The story is that they were busted taking a leak over the rail of the ship; probably into the wind and wetting a deck officer. ‘Keel-haul those men’!

Back to Sunday and Mystery Island: We went ashore and had a walk around part of the island. There was a small market of about 30 stalls all selling much the same stuff. Pandanus leaf baskets, fans, a bit of shell jewellery and some drinking coconuts. The water was beautiful and quite cool for the tropics. Snorkelling gear was for hire @ $40 for flippers, snorkel and mask. Thanks but no thanks!

We took a photo of the airstrip terminal building which is “under construction” and obviously has been for some time.

Back to the ship for lunch, we had to go through metal detectors and our hand gear was run through an X-ray machine. Mike has a device in his chest to adjust the electrodes into his brain. He had to go around the metal detector and undergo a very thorough body search with a hand held device. What they could possibly think anyone could bring on board from a small island way out in the Pacific I don’t know. Maybe some WW2 armaments?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I cruised the Islands in 2009, snorkelled each one we visited, the idea is to take your own gear.
Liked it so much have flown back to Vanuautu twice since, spending 17 days snorkelling, diving and kayaking and stood on the edge of an active volcano on my 54th birthday. At the time of writing I have not developed any melenomas. Reading your blog I wonder why you travel?