Oeno Island Holiday

Oeno Island Holiday
        26 June 1995            20c, 90c, $1.80, $3.00                            Mint and CTO        $5.90
                                                                                                        FDC                       $6.40

Technical Details

        Release Date:                    26 June 1995
        Tablet Values:                   20c, 90c, $1.80, $3.00
        Artist:                                G L Vasarhelyi
        Printer:                              BDT International Security Printing Ltd
        Process:                            Lithography
        Paper:                               CA Watermark
        Stamp Size:                       48.26 x 32.34 mm
        Perforation Gauge:            50 (2 x 25)
        Pane Format:                    14 per 2 cm
        Mint and CTO:                 $5.90
        First Day Cover:               $6.40

The artwork for this issue is based on photographic material supplied by Meralda Warren and Steve Christian of Pitcairn Island.

Of the four islands in the group, Pitcairn itself is the only one permanently inhabited.  Ducie at 470 km to the west, rarely sees visitors from Pitcairn; Henderson (169 km east-north-east) is a regular destination when the people need supplies of wood for carving, but Oeno is purely a holiday island - visited perhaps once a year.

Situated 120 km northwest of Pitcairn, it is a low atoll of over 3.2 km diameter surrounded by a reef and shallow coral lagoon.  To spend time relaxing in the unspoilt beauty of Oeno is indeed a special kind of holiday.

Over the years, readers of the Pitcairn Miscellany will be familiar with accounts of exciting, adventurous, unpredictable journeys to this dot in the ocean and, occasionally, of tragedies averted.

Until recently visitors to Oeno have enjoyed a Swiss Family Robinson existence, but of late some home comforts have been installed.

We reprint - with thanks - a story written by Mary Pavicich, an American visitor to Pitcairn, and published in the Miscellany of March 1986.

Holiday at Oeno

We set course early the bright morning of February 26.  About half of us [then living on Pitcairn] had chosen to make the trip and boarded the two longboats.  The "tin" [aluminium] boat and the "wooden" boat were both packed full of supplies and belongings to last us for probably a month, even though our intended stay was only a week.

Once away from the jetty, we spread canvas supported by a 'choice' piece of bamboo to shield us from the elements.  Except for a bit of engine trouble with "Tin", and needing to use the other boat to tow it part way, we had an enjoyable and sunny trip, the 75 miles to Oeno.

Late in the afternoon, we finally spotted on the horizon some dots that looked like far off ships, but were actually coconut trees.  The beautiful little island came into clearer detail as we neared it.  And soon, with our nerves on edge and under the direction of our excellent crew, we made it through the dangerous passage and into the clear blue-green lagoon.  The brightness of the whole place was incredible, especially the sand, almost as white as snow, contrasting with the brilliant colours in the water.

Everyone rushed to beat the darkness, unloading the boats and setting up the large tents for our camps, to get some sleep for the night.  Even though the ground was hard, it was good to lie down with the scent of the cabbage trees and the sound of the surf.  But too early in the morning the men were awakened to take care of a drifting longboat.  Eventually, though, they came back to bed again after having to get into the water and then dry off.

In the morning we finished setting up the rest of our camp and making our beds a little softer with loads of coconut fronds.  We had just about all the comforts of home.  A kitchen, a washroom (one camp even had a shower), and a toilet.

For the rest of the time, everyone set out to "do their own thing", and enjoy a week away from it all.  The women and some of the men, took turns at cooking.  Great lots of food had been brought from home, but at every dinner there was sure to be fresh fish on the table in some shape or form.  Catching or spearing fish was definitely one of the favourite pastimes.  A few times the "tin" boat was even taken out to go fishing.

Swimming and snorkelling were also very popular as always on Oeno, for the water invites you to jump in.  It is so fascinating looking around on the reefs at the world under the sea, the great bouquets of coral, and the fish so brightly coloured.

We all had wonderful times walking around the island.  It only takes about an hour and a half to walk around, except for those athletes who choose to run instead.  And when you're tired and exhausted, there's a coconut tree somewhere, with a coconut within arm's reach, if you're not limber enough to climb the tall ones.  The water inside the young coconut is always very refreshing.

Many of us came back with loads of pretty coloured shells from the beach.  The great long sandbar seemed to be filled with lots of little treasures.

Walking inland through the forests of cabbage trees there's a variety of birds to find.  [Many of them illustrated in the 1995 definitive issue - Ed.]  Funny looking ones that snap at you when you get too close, and graceful ones flying in the air and singing.

Almost everyone took time to collect some coconuts or pandanus thatch (for making baskets) to bring home.  And on rainy days, it was nice to stay inside and make some brooms or baskets from the coconut fronds, to carry home and use.

Many of the evenings were filled with guitar music and singing.  And of course walks on the beach in the moonlight.

Meanwhile we had radio contact with the folks back home and they were sure they were having a better time than us, with three ships that had decided to stop for visits during our stay at Oeno.

Someone seemed to say "Pack up," every day, and after a week we did pack up.  We took down our camps, packed everything, moved into the boats and let nature return to its own course again.  We had a lovely trip back, arriving in the evening.  Our families and friends we'd left behind were there to greet us all, who were looking a bit more suntanned and sunburnt from our adventure in the sun.