Goatless Goat Island, Because Erro Just Isn’t Small Enough.

That big blob is the island we live on, Erromango. It is only about 20 miles wide, and not much taller. To someone from the giant continental USA, it’s minuscule. But do you see the tiny little dot on the upper right corner? That’s Goat Island, as we affectionately call it (Vete Manung Island on this map). And we’ve wanted to visit it since we laid eyes on it.

Erromango

Our Erromangan family and neighbors refer to this speck as Goat Island because someone used to keep their goats there. Given how difficult it is to get on and off this rock, they were more or less left alone. Their population grew and grew until they pretty much decimated all vegetation on the island. Then they were moved back to Erro. Since then, this place rarely gets any visitors.

When we said we wanted to stay the night sometime, our host papa’s eyes grew big and he paused in silence…then he recovered and said “No problem. I’ll go with you.” That was some time last year. Since then, we learned that our island neighbor is thought to be haunted, and that no one has spent the night there in anyone’s memory. Naturally, we were even more intrigued. Besides, Pappa Joe assured us that it was just superstition and silliness. Pffft.

So finally it came to pass that we made the journey. We did not end up staying the night (children were with us for goodness sake!), but had an incredible time anyway. Below is the visual evidence. Enjoy.

On our way. Poor Esther was terrified on the way out, clinging to Sambat. But you'd never guess she was afraid once she hit land again~ that girl will climb cliffs.
On our way. Poor Esther was terrified on the way out, clinging to Sambat. But you’d never guess she was afraid once she hit land again~ that girl will climb cliffs.
Course set straight for the speck of rock in the distance.
Course set straight for the speck of rock in the distance.
We had to go to the other side of it to find somewhere we could jump off the boat and onto the island. In the background you can see Erro.
We had to go to the other side of it to find somewhere we could jump off the boat and onto the island. In the background you can see Erro.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get pictures of getting off the boat and onto the island. Imagine standing on the front of the boat, waiting for the water, the boat, and the slippery wet lava rock to all line up just right so you can make your jump. Good times.

Ever visited tidal pools nearly untouched by humans? Peter and I were the last off the boat, and before we could even catch our balance on the rocks, every person who had come with us had either a fish or crab (or both) in each hand. So rich in life.
Ever visited tidal pools nearly untouched by humans? Peter and I were the last off the boat, and before we could even catch our balance on the rocks, every person who had come with us had either a fish or crab (or both) in each hand. So rich in life.
Tidal pools.
Tidal pools.
Then we turned around and began to climb to the top. (See Pappa Joe up there? Esther climbed straight up that rock face fearlessly.) All of this black rock is lava rock~ but once you get around the corner, the color changes drastically.
Then we turned around and began to climb to the top. (See Pappa Joe up there? Esther climbed straight up that rock face fearlessly.) All of this black rock is lava rock~ but once you get around the corner, the color changes drastically.
See what I mean? Suddenly we were in southern Utah.
See what I mean? Suddenly we were in southern Utah.
Made it to the top!
Made it to the top!
Even up here, the first thing Nesi did was attack the ground until he had this huge crab wrapped safely in its leafy restraints.
Even up here, the first thing Nesi did was attack the ground until he had this huge crab wrapped safely in its leafy restraints.
Then into the tangle of trees, Nesi and his bush knife leading the way.
Then into the tangle of trees, Nesi and his bush knife leading the way.
Beautiful and TALL trees.
Beautiful and TALL trees.
Did I mention that this would happen with every other step we took? All those amazing trees, and the birds here BURROW and nest underground. Some kind of hawk I think. Made it difficult to explore, but obvious that the ground was untouched by humans (at least for quite some time).
Did I mention that this would happen with every other step we took? All those amazing trees, and the birds here BURROW and nest underground. Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, I think. Made it difficult to explore, but obvious that the ground was untouched by humans (at least for quite some time).
Time to climb to the top of the top! The little girl in the middle? That's our little sister, Esther.
Time to climb to the top of the top! See that little person in the middle? That’s our little sister, Esther. You can see Pappa Joe’s red shirt on the top right.
She waited so we could catch up and enjoy this incredible Banyon.
She waited so we could catch up and enjoy this incredible Banyon.
A bigger and equally incredible banyon tree.
A bigger and equally incredible banyon tree.
After the experience that was more like climbing a tree (due to having to pull ourself up the steep incline using the trees that were strongly rooted to the rocks) than hiking up a hill, we made it to the top!
After the experience that was more like climbing a tree (due to having to pull ourselves up the steep incline using the trees that were strongly rooted to the rocks) than hiking up a hill, we made it to the top!
Yay!
Yay!
The camera doesn't do justice to the view of Erromango.
The camera doesn’t do justice to the view of Erromango.
Um. Time to hike back down?
Um. Time to hike back down?
Enjoy the view for a bit first.
Enjoy the view for a bit first.
Looking for some eggs....I was equally relieved and disappointed when we didn't find any. It would have been neat to be able to see this mysterious bird's giant eggs, but I don't know how I would have felt about eating them.
Looking for some eggs….I was equally relieved and disappointed when we didn’t find any. It would have been neat to be able to see this mysterious bird’s giant eggs, but I don’t know how I would have felt about eating them.
What happens when you don't harvest pandanas? It turns into a beautiful backdrop for this photo. :)
What happens when you don’t harvest pandanas? It turns into a beautiful backdrop for this photo. 🙂
Canopy shot.
Canopy shot.
Esther is nesting.
Esther is nesting.
Beautiful.
Beautiful.
Father and son. I LOVE this picture.
Father and son. I LOVE this picture.
Warrior Pappa Joe.
Warrior Pappa Joe.
Urchins? They moved and tickled my hand as I held them.
Urchins? They moved and tickled my hand as I held them.
Sambat the Queen Fisher.
Sambat the Queen Fisher.
On top of the world!
On top of the world!
Snack time~ peanut butter and biscuits.
Snack time~ peanut butter and biscuits.
Ok. Time to get back on the boat. We can do this. (Seriously though, this was terrifying. Especially to watch the kids get tossed over.)
Ok. Time to get back on the boat. We can do this. (Seriously though, this was terrifying. Especially to watch the kids get tossed over.)
The boat had to continuously maneuver itself to line up juuust right with the rocks without crashing into them with the current. The mere moments where everything was just right were the opportunities we had to get person after person on the boat.
The boat had to continuously maneuver itself to line up juuust right with the rocks without crashing into them with the current. The mere moments where everything was just right were the opportunities we had to get person after person on the boat.
And as you can see, the kids were basically just tossed, one pappa to another. They were too little to make the jump. Luckily, Peter and I managed on our own.
And as you can see, the kids were basically just tossed, one pappa to another. They were too little to make the jump. Luckily, Peter and I managed on our own.

So that was our adventure to Goat Island. It was totally worth the incredible sunburn and even the infected foot wounds (in my opinion…hopefully Peter agrees with me. They were his feet…). I hope you enjoyed joining us on the adventure via these photographs.

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2 thoughts on “Goatless Goat Island, Because Erro Just Isn’t Small Enough.”

  1. Those photos and the story of that experience is really amazing. Wish you could find out more legends and myths about it. Why do they think it is haunted, are there and custom stories about it?

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