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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
Port Lockroy, British Antarctic Territory

Port Lockroy – The tip of the iceberg

On every trip I undertake, there are always certain sights or points of interest that I look forward to the most; places that epitomize the destination I am visiting – St Peter's Square at Rome, The Empire State Building at New York, Gullfoss Waterfall at Iceland; Port Lockroy was the place I wanted to see the most in Antarctica – I had read about this enchanting place beforehand, and was fascinated by its history, setting and the wildlife that occupied the small island – I must admit I would have been disappointed if we didn't get to set foot on British Antarctic Territory. Therefore when Jonathan our expedition manager announced on the 13th that we would be making a landing at Wiencke Island I was overjoyed!

MS Expedition anchored off Goudier Island

About Port Lockroy

History - During Britain's quest to make territorial claims in Antarctica and find potential military sites, Port Lockroy was established on Goudier Island in 1944. Bransfield House was the first permanent British government building on the Antarctic Peninsula and was used for various scientific researches such as Geology and Meteorology. This continued until 1962 when the base was abandoned and the researches were transferred to other bases. In 1994, interest in the base was renewed, funds gathered, and in 1996 Bransfield House was restored and developed into a "living museum" complete with a Post Office and Gift shop – It remains today the most popular site for tourists in the Antarctic Peninsula. For more information about Port Lockroy and the UK Antarctic Heritage trust check out the links below.

Goudier Island

Location - Port Lockroy is the actual harbour on Wiencke Island, not the base itself – Bransfield House is located on Goudier Island, which is a tiny island inside the bay of Port Lockroy. Wiencke Island is right next to the much larger Anvers Island on the Antarctic Peninsula. During our landing we visited Goudier Island and Jougla Point – We were lucky enough to see Blue Eyed Shag's nesting here amidst the colony of Gentoo penguins, I even saw them bringing back material to construct their nests with, another amazing Antarctic moment.

Nesting Blue Eyed Shag at Jougla Point

I really am quite patriotic

When my fellow travellers asked me why I was so excited about visiting Port Lockroy, my first reason was due to the research I had done on the place beforehand – It genuinely looked like an interesting landing. The second was a slightly stranger one – Deep down I knew that I wanted to visit Port Lockroy because it was British, and I would be stepping foot on British Antarctic Territory. I am not usually overly Patriotic, especially with the current state of our country, but something about that tiny little patch of British land stirred my patriotism. It was so cool to think that I would be walking on land that Brits had claimed for the crown and worked so hard to maintain and turn into a viable base during times of hardship and war. We may be a small nation of people, but throughout history Britain has achieved great things (If not always morally sound), and that does make me proud.

I had to have a photo next to the Union Jack

As we approached the island in our Zodiac boat my excitement grew; I could see the buildings that I had drooled over in so many photos back home getting clearer – The characteristic Red and Black structure of Bransfield House and the Gentoo's nesting on the surrounding rocks. When the boat landed I was buzzing with anticipation, I took some photos of the surrounding landscape and got a selfie in front of the welcome sign. The base consists of Bransfield house which contains the post office and the museum, and a couple of other buildings – One of which the four members of staff live in during their time at Port Lockroy. It was quite humbling to see the hut they would call home – It was no more than a Nissan Hut, very spartan, and as I understood, it had no heating or electricity!

I had made it! Port Lockroy at last The living quarters for the staff Research Antenae Goudier Island (With Gentoo's!)

After taking some photos of the island and its surroundings I went inside Bransfield house - It was just brilliant! One section has been restored and preserved as a museum, sharing with visitors the conditions that the expedition members used to live in during Port Lockroy's early history - There was a bedroom complete with wall murals of famous pinups like Marilyn Munroe, a coms room with working radio, a storeroom with supplies and lots of other nooks and crannies, all lovingly re-created and maintained. It was so interesting to walk through the various parts of the base and imagine what it must have been like for it's inhabitants.

Fidopoly - Homemade Monopoly game Food supplies Sleeping quarters Communications room with radio

The other section contained the gift shop & post office - Packed full with themed mementos and useful items like maps and books, I brought some patches and also got my postcards stamped and bagged up to be sent back eventually to the UK. (As it turns out the postcards I sent back home to England arrived around 4 weeks after I posted them at Port Lockroy, and the one I sent to Hannah at Eat Sleep Breath Travel in Canada, 5 weeks) It really was a special moment - How many people can say they have sent a postcard from Antarctica?

Bransfield House

Port Lockroy definitely left it's mark on me and it was every bit as special as I had imagined. For anyone going to Antarctica, this is one of the places you will be lucky to visit, even if your not British - It just has a certain special quality, and it really is a wonderful piece of Antarctic history.

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