We had a small set-back with the car after our trips to Volunteer Point and Bertha’s Breach but she’s now back up and running so we decided to celebrate with a trip up ‘the North Camp Road’ to a local beauty spot called Elephant Beach Farm.
Here, amongst the endless diddle-dee berry bushes, the Gentoo penguins with their now quite large chicks and the young sea lion sunbathing, we walked and drove off-road along the coastline and, as with many places here, found all kinds of things around. It’s a geographical and historical quirk of the Falklands that the coastline is abundant with shipwrecks. Some of these, like the Jhelum, the Lady Liz and the Bertha, are well-known and their debris/wrecks can be easily identified but other parts of the coastline hold many very old, weathered and clearly nautical pieces of driftwood that I find raise a lot of questions; what ship did this piece come from? When was it made? Where was it going? What was it carrying? What was the fate of those on board? Were any rescued? With so many shipwrecks and pieces of drift wood around, it’s scary to think what each one would have been through to find itself here from the early days of exploration and international travel.
There are many stories of people having been wrecked here, some when the Falklands was populated and others not so fortunate (I HIGHLY recommend reading The Wreck of the Isabella for an unbelievably true story of people shipwrecked here in 1811/12 and their struggles to stay alive and get rescued). The excellent Stanley Museum displays and even sells some of the artefacts and Han was kind enough to buy me a glass ink bottle (still corked and with ink in!) that was recovered from the 1895 wreck of the John R Kelly. A pretty cool keepsake if ever I owned one.
Some of this shipwreck debris makes for great garden decorations, souvenirs and windowsill decor as we see around the Islands often. One favourite Falklands garden ornament is the whale bones that also litter the coastline here and Elephant Beach Farm also teems with many of those, though it is illegal to attempt to remove them from the Islands (I guess in some form of anti-whaling law side-effect) so please don’t ask us for a set.
Old wooden wrecks are not the only historical reminders here, of course, and the North Camp road plays host to what I believe is the remnants of a burnt out Argentine Chinook from a Harrier raid advised by the SAS in 1982.
I believe two Puma helicopter wrecks are also nearby but I have yet to locate them. For somewhere with no native population and with a current population that has only been here since about 1833 there is a surprising amount of history here, which is nice for me!