Wednesday, January 24, 2007


It was an important date in the calender, and lots of us headed out to Les Quintal's paddock at Anson Bay for the Burning of the Bounty, which has become an annual event, commemorating the burning of the H.M.S.Bounty at Pitcairn Island on January 23rd 1790.

What a beautiful warm and still summer evening it was. Most people brought a picnic tea to enjoy while we were entertained by island singing and dancing. The kids had a ball. Believe it or not, this big White Oak is full of children up in its sturdy branches.

There was incredible colour in the sky for at least an hour around sunset, and the sea was like glass.

Some brave people - including the ever-enthusiastic Brandt - practised the hula by the light of the setting sun, under the guidance of Kathy and the littlies.

John Christian and his "crew" had been working on the Bounty model for some days. Each year it gets better.
Finally, the sun went down, and it was time to set the torch to the vessel, a task carried out by Greg Quintal Snr, who is descended from Matthew Quintal, who set fire to the original.

With the accompaniment of the beating drums, and the fire dancers, it was a moving spectacle. We thought back to how those original mutineers and their Tahitian companions must have felt. Popular feeling is that the ship was burned on purpose, so that the mutineers, hiding from justice on that remote little island, were less likely to be detected, and to lessen the chance of any of them taking the ship and returning to give the game away.

However, it seems that there would not even have been time to finish unloading the ship of all useful supplies in the three days that had elapsed since their arrival at Pitcairn. There is a turbulent and treacherous surf in Bounty Bay, and any sort of unloading, which included large numbers of animals and plants, would have been time consuming and difficult. Moreover, the Bounty had been run up onto rocks when they arrived, and it would have been near-impossible for any of them to re-float the boat unless everyone helped. So escape by any individual was unlikely.
What probably happened is that Matthew Quintal, under the influence of the alcohol he had helped salvage, wilfully and impulsively torched the vessel, and they all saw their last link with the outside world destroyed, along with many supplies and equipment that may have been useful to them.

This little community was to remain undiscovered for 18 years, by which time they had undergone an amazing transformation, and only one mutineer, John Adams, remained alive.

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