In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Pitcairn Island, a tiny volcanic island in the South Pacific, most famous for its mutineer inhabitants, who fled there after the famous Mutiny on the Bounty in 1789.
Pitcairn forms part of a four-island group known as the Pitcairn Islands, but is the only island in the group to be inhabited. Its nearest inhabited neighbours are Easter Island to the East and French Polynesia to the West. Pitcairn is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world, and by far the smallest place we’ve ever talked about in terms of population, boasting only around 50 residents as of 2018, all descended from the 9 Bounty mutineers and the few Tahitians they brought with them to the island. The island itself is rocky, and experiences warm weather year-round thanks to its location just south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Today, Pitcairn is the only remaining British Overseas Territory in the South Pacific. Its economy relies heavily on tourism, as well as the highly-prized honey produced by the bees on the island. While all islanders speak English, their first language is Pitkern, a creole language that has derived from 18-century English dialects and Tahitian.
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Some further reading:
- The Pitcairn Islands Study Centre has more info on the early history of the island group.
- Joe speaks about his use of Librivox for this episode. He listened to both The Mutiny of the Bounty and Other Narratives by William Bligh and The Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of H.M.S. Bounty: Its Cause and Consequences by Sir John Barrow, both giving markedly different accounts of the mutiny.
- You can read/listen to more on the conspiracy theories surrounding the fate of Fletcher Christian on Skeptoid.
- Sir Joseph Banks, the man behind the expedition, is profiled here in Britannica.
- Two of the books mentioned by Luke include Mutiny on the Bounty by Peter Fitzsimons and The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty by Caroline Alexander.
- Byron’s The Island, inspired by the mutiny and discussed in this episode, can be found here.
- An extended version of Mel Gibson’s “I am in hell” scene, a clip of which is used in this episode, can be found here on YouTube.
- More on Pandora’s Box and the escape from the HMS Pandora can be found here.
- The New Zealand Herald has a feature on the child abuse scandal on Pitcairn, and the island’s struggle to attract residents is detailed here in The Telegraph.
- The European Commission has plenty of detail on the economy of the island here.
- You can watch Errol Flynn’s 1933 film In the Wake of the Bounty here on YouTube.