Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

A Mysterious Destination; If You Really Want to Turn Your Back on the World, This Is for You

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

A Mysterious Destination; If You Really Want to Turn Your Back on the World, This Is for You

Article excerpt

Byline: David Ellis

IF YOU really wanna go Robinson Crusoe, there's a little place in the South Pacific that's just for you.

But you'll need to do some planning if you're thinking of escaping to a people-free paradise.

Despite no one living on this miniscule 1.5 square-kilometre oceanic dot that has no electricity, no running water, no roads and no telephones, your peace could still be shattered a by hordes storming the beaches, all keen to share your little piece of paradise for a daya[degrees]

This magical little spot you thought you had to yourself is called Mystery Island. And the mystery of why you won't find it on the map has been solved a it's officially Inyeug, Vanuatu's most southerly island.

And no one lives here because its traditional owners, who live on the island next door, believe it's haunted after dark by ghosts.

In the 1850s, Australian traders who set up operations on the larger Aneityum Island just across the channel mostly lived on Inyeug as they figured that the then cannibalistic Aneityumese were unlikely to attack spooky Inyeug after dark. Canadian missionaries also built the biggest church for its time in the South Pacific on the neighbouring Aneityum, its 1000 seats enough for a quarter of that island's population.

The traders and missionaries eventually drifted away due to ill health or waning years and abandonment and a tsunami put paid to the church.

By the late 1800s Aneityum's near-4000 population had been decimated to just 500 a the legacy of Western diseases introduced by the foreigners.

Aneityum and Inyeug faded into obscurity for more than a century until in the 1980s the cruise ship Fairstar started visiting Vanuatu, often putting her passengers ashore by lifeboats for a day on this jewel of South Pacific white-sand islands. Fairstar's owners, the Sitmar Line, also re-named Inyeug as Mystery Island a as it was always a mystery whether they could land their passengers there due to unpredictable seas.

After Fairstar was sold, P&O started visiting with its bigger South Pacific cruisers out of Sydney and Brisbane. …

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