The night before my last day on Pitcairn Island I was asked what areas of the island I hadn’t seen that I’d like to before I left. I mentioned “Down Rope” where the petroglyphs can be seen. The petroglyphs are markings at the base of a rockface at an enclosed beach. The markings are thought to be made by pre-european polynesians. To get to there you have to go down a steep path cut into the side of the rock. Parts of it are only about a foot wide and it’s a long way down. The yacht taking me back to Mangareva was scheduled to leave at 9am the next day so I didn’t think they’d be much chance of seeing it. Shawn, one of the Islanders, offered to take me down at 7am if I was keen and I agreed.
The sun was rising giving a nice morning sky as we were on our way to the Down Rope track via quad bike. In the pictures below you can see the steps leading down at the top of the path. Further down shows the view looking down onto the beach where Down Rope leads. That’s Shawn, the Pitcairn guide, who led me down. Without him I’d never have found the path. The beach you can see from that view is the one in this image.
This area of Pitcairn had the only sandy beach that I saw on the island. The other areas were pretty rocky. There were the usual Pitcairn crabs that I’d seen down Tedside while fishing, but also a type of crab that lives in a shell which I hadn’t seen before.
An idea of the scale of the cliffs at the bottom can be seen in this photo with Shawn walking ahead of me. They towered above. At the base are the petroglyphs. They are carved into the rock and indented, which you can see when looking up close. To make them easier to find the outlines have been painted which is why they are white and clear in the photo.
The way back up was a bit easier on the nerves, probably because I didn’t need to look down, but harder on the legs. In that photo you can see the steps in the rocks on the right - not for the faint of heart! Further up you’re clinging to the rockface, then onto slippery banana leaves, and finally back up the top. It was a great experience and I’m glad I was able to fit it in before I left.
This is a republish of one my pitcairn news articles about my trip. Re-posted as I've been writing about my Pitcairn trip here also.