Named "Martyrs' Island" by Presbytarian
Missionaries at the beginning of the 19th Century, Erromango never quite
lost its reputation as a dangerous destination. The sandalwood trade began
shortly after the arrival of the famous explorer/trader Peter Dillon. As
the wood was relatively inexpensive, it was exploited quickly, and nearly
depleted in only fifty years time.
Erromango was subsequently one of the frequent
stops for the "Blackbirders" who captured islanders for work on
plantations overseas. Epidemics and disease followed contact with
Europeans, which meant tragic depopulation on the island.
Kauri and other tropical hardwoods are still
being exploited by some Malyasian logging companies, but local communities
have been quite effective in their resistance to the unsustainable logging
practices. They are well aware of
the implications on their lives, environment and livelihoods if their
As a result of this concern, the creation of a
Kauri Reserve is currently underway, with assistance from the European
Union. This special area is undoubtedly a very important (and stunning!)
attraction, and visitors will be able to experience the breathtaking
beauty of ancient trees when the Forestry tourist lodge opens. Erromango
is considered one of the best islands in Vanuatu for trekking or walking.
Erromango is one of the most suitable islands for
the bushwalker. There are a number of possible walking routes, depending
on your available time and fitness. A walk across the island from Dillons
Bay to Port Narvin and then on to Ipota along the coast is an ambitious
journey. A more interesting and challenging treck is the one from Dillons
Bay down south to South River and across to Ipota via the Kauri Reserve.
You will have to find a guide for the latter.
Dillons Bay is now a peaceful place where you can
enjoy a lovely walk along the Williams River and take the chance to admire
the few "sentawud" (sandalwood ) left of the once abundant
species. The Meteson's Guest House is currently being renovated (tel
68677). Tours and guides can be arranged with the owner.
Suvu Beach is a white-sand beach close to Dillons
Bay where you can explore caves with hand drawings on the walls and other
historical ruins. This area is only accessible with a guide and by canoe
or speed boat.
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