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Erromango is the largest island in TAFEA Province, the southernmost province of Vanuatu. Its highest point is Mount Santop, at 886 m. Its largest villages are Port Narvin (Potnarvin) and Dillons Bay (Upongkor). The former main village was Ipota. The total area of Erromango is 888 km².

erromango

It was formerly known as Martyr’s Island by the Presbyterian missionaries in the 19th century, because of the risk attached to missionary activity there.

John Williams of the London Missionary Society and a colleague was killed and eaten at Dillon Bay in 1839. In December 2009, after a lengthy collaboration between the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and church and cultural leaders in Vanuatu, descendants of Williams travelled to Erromango to accept the apologies of descendants of those who killed their ancestor in a ceremony of reconciliation. To mark the occasion, Dillons Bay was renamed Williams Bay.

The Rev. George Nicol Gordon, of Prince Edward Island, Canada and his wife, Ellen Catherine Powell, missionaries from the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia to the New Hebrides, were massacred by the natives at Erromango on May 20th, 1861. A memoir of the couple appeared in book form, at Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1863.

The Rev. George Nicol Gordon, of Prince Edward Island, Canada and his wife, Ellen Catherine Powell, missionaries from the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia to the New Hebrides, were massacred by the natives at Erromango on May 20th, 1861. A memoir of the couple appeared in book form, at Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1863.


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The Rev. George Nicol Gordon, of Prince Edward Island, Canada and his wife, Ellen Catherine Powell, missionaries from the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia to the New Hebrides, were massacred by the natives at Erromango on May 20th, 1861. A memoir of the couple appeared in book form, at Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1863.

Erromango was one of the more important sources of workers for the Black birding crews. At one time the population of Erromango exceeded 10,000, today it is approximately 1500.

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.

Historically there have been four languages of Erromango, Sie, Sorung, Ura, and Utaha (Ifo), but Sorung and Utaha are now extinct, and there are very few speakers of Ura. They constitute the Erromango-language branch of South Vanuatu languages.

Erromango today has only a few small villages along the coast. Upongkor village, eight kilometers south of Dillon’s Bay airstrip, has the island’s only guest house. The village is beautifully situated at the mouth of the Williams River facing Dillon’s Bay.

Accommodation on Erromango is limited with only one bungalow and one guesthouse at Upongkor village (Dillon’s Bay). Elsewhere, accommodation can be arranged in the village. There are two airstrips on Erromango, one in the Northwest (Dillon’s Bay) and another in the Southeast (Ipota). There’s only one road on Erromango, from Upongkor to the Dillon’s Bay Airstrip, so most transport around Erromango is by speedboat or walking. A speedboat charter from Dillon’s Bay to Pongkil Bay is about 5000 Vatu and to South River about 10,000 Vatu.

Dillon’s Bay orlocally called “Upongkor” is the largest of Erromango’s villages. It has a few basic stores (that might be empty), telephones (that might not work), a water supply, generators and a medical dispensary. There are two places to stay at Dillon’s Bay, these are Meteson’s Guesthouse and the PWMU Guesthouse.

Dillon’s Bay itself is picturesque and, if you’re lucky, you might see whales hanging about in the bay. Turtles and dolphins can also be seen around Erromango when traveling by boat. Locals may invite you to see a Kauri Reserve in the Dillon’s Bay area. It’s about three hours walk away and the kastom fee. The Dillon’s Bay airstrip is 9km by road from Upongkor. A truck charter costs 3000 Vatu or a shared ride is about 500 Vatu. Don’t be surprised if the truck doesn’t turn up to meet your flight or breaks down (be prepared to walk, about two and a half hours). The Dillon’s Bay water supply is pumped from the river and may not be OK to drink (ask for rain water). In the mornings the supply tank is empty and it’s common practice to fill a bucket or two in the afternoon. There’s a community telephone at Dillon’s Bay (88993). Fresh local bread can be bought at the stores.

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