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South Georgia Map

 News and Events 

June 2003

Ships Aground - and South Georgia Heroes come to the rescue!
(The account below is by Sue Dowling, the BAS Medical Officer, King Edward Point, South Georgia, written on the 14 May.)

Viking Bay Aground at KEP

Over the week of 30 April to 7 May, we had a hectic time here at King Edward Point, when three fishing vessels ran aground and 86 mariners needed to be rescued and housed. All this on an island with a current mainland population of just 13 people. Here's how we coped….

Wednesday 30 April was about two days into the Toothfish licensing period here at South Georgia, always a busy time. The Fishery Patrol Vessel Sigma was alongside the KEP jetty having brought Senior Fishery Officer Roy Summers from Stanley to assist Marine Officer Pat Lurcock with the licensing frenzy. We woke up to find that strong winds (Force 10 to 12) had caused the Spanish longline vessel Viking Bay to drag her anchor and run onto the beach just next to the jetty here. The wind scuppered any plans we had for small boat operations during the day, and hence we spent a frustrating day unable to perform any licensing inspections. With assistance from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) staff and Sigma's crew, the Viking Bay managed to deploy mooring lines to hold her position during the strong winds and was able to get herself off the beach during the afternoon. She dropped off her MRAG (Marine Resources Assessment Group) observer Tahmores Moslempour, and proceeded to Stanley for a hull inspection. During the late afternoon and evening the wind dropped, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Later that evening, we BAS staff were halfway through our evening meal and about to attack a fruit crumble when a message came over the radio from the Korean longliner Moresko 1 to say that she had "hit bottom". The ship's MRAG observer Marcus Shuttleworth (the only English speaker on board) reported that there was widespread panic amongst the crew, and he thought the ship was taking on water. Pat was already in the communications room and immediately attempted to obtain help from other long line vessels in the area. During the course of these radio transmissions it transpired that another ship, the Falkland Islands registered Lyn, had also run aground and two other vessels were assisting her. The two stranded ships were on the rocks on opposite sides of the entrance to Moraine Fjord, roughly 2 miles away from King Edward Point. We all abandoned the crumble and crowded round the radio in the dining room area listening with shock to what was going on outside, then organized ourselves into taking all the spare duvets and pillows we could find over to Larsen House, our overspill accommodation building - which boasts only 8 bunks.

After listening to the radio some more, it became clear that although Moresko 1 was taking in water and the engine room was filling up, she was aground in only 0.5 metres of water so there was little immediate risk to those on board provided they kept calm. Unfortunately the crew were panicking and Marcus had to make valiant efforts to calm down sailors who didn't share a common language with him. All the life rafts were inflated and lowered over the side and the crew was frantically preparing to abandon ship - the sense of panic increasing when the generators failed and the ship was plunged into darkness. Shifts were organized ashore to man the radio and talk to Marcus every 40 minutes throughout the night, Sigma also organized a listening watch, and the rest of us went off to bed with varied successes in managing to sleep. The Lyn, although suffering her own problems, kept a searchlight on the Moresko 1 to monitor her situation.

Moresko rescue boats We were up well before dawn the following morning and had a briefing shortly after 06:00. At first light, our RIB (Alert) and Sigma's Delta RIB went out to Moresko 1 along with our small fishing boat (Quest) to start ferrying the fishermen from Moresko 1 ashore. Roy and Malcolm (Sigma's Chief Officer) went onto the vessel to ensure that the evacuation was conducted safely and to assess the situation of the vessel. The boat crews also collected the life rafts, some personal belongings and a quantity of food - the food having to be sprayed with insecticide spray to kill cockroaches before we allowed it ashore.

We had set up a reception area in the boatshed with warm drinks on tap and as many chairs and benches as we could find, and laid on soup, noodles, bread rolls, biscuits and fruit for the rescued mariners. All 40 of them were well, if somewhat subdued, and wearing dry, warm clothes. The plan was for us to house half of them and for Sigma to take the rest, but plans can and do change so we held them all in the boatshed until we knew what was happening with Lyn.

During the day a number of longliners (Isla Camila, Viking Bay, Tierra del Fuego, Magallanes III and Polar Pesca I) had all attempted to tow the Lyn, and at one time three vessels at once had tried to pull her off the rocks. An hour prior to darkness, the Fishing Master of Lyn decided to request that all bar 6 senior officers were evacuated from his ship. The small boats went out again and brought 37 sailors plus the MRAG observer Eugenio Olivares back to us on shore. When we had heard the decision to evacuate most of the Lyn crew we had immediately gathered the Moresko 1 crew together and taken them up to Larsen House, as it was now obvious that the sensible thing to do was for all the Moresko 1 sailors to stay with us and for Sigma to take the Lyn crew. The three observers stayed with us on base. It was difficult to communicate with the Moresko 1 crew who were a mixture of Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indonesians and spoke no English, so we resorted to drawing pictures of toilets and "no smoking" signs and sticking them on doors. Back in the Falklands, permission was being sought to allow the Sigma to attempt to tow the Lyn, as with her 3600 BHP she has more power than any three of the Longliners mentioned above added together.

From the ground, the next few days seemed to merge together. With only 8 British Antarctic Survey (BAS) people on base, plus Rob Gater (MRAG Observer Co-ordinator), Pat and Sarah Lurcock, and Tim and Pauline Carr at the South Georgia Museum, we were very stretched as we had to juggle continuous daylight boating operations, communications (with and between ships, boats and base personnel, and with the "outside world" in Stanley and BAS Cambridge), looking out for our 43 extra guests, a few minor medical problems, and keeping the base running as normally as possible. Science was of course put on hold for the time being. A rota was drawn up to ensure that two of us stayed in Larsen House round the clock - this gave us a chance to get to know the sailors, not an easy task when none of them spoke English but we soon discovered that dominoes and Connect Four straddle all language barriers! Sigma gave their bar area, the largest open space on board, over to the Lyn crew, who originated from Spain, Chile, Peru and Indonesia. In the rare moments we had to sit down and rest, we slumped in front of episodes of "Friends" and "Cold Feet".

Through all this, licensing had to continue so Pat, Roy, Rob, Howie the BAS boatman, and the Sigma Delta crew (Frankie and Kev) were constantly moving from here to there and from there to here in the small boats. Over the next couple of days there were a number of attempts by other vessels to pull Lyn off the rocks, which meant lots of ferrying of Lyn crew members on and off the Lyn to prepare towing lines, pump fuel, dump bait, etc. Lyn  run aground

The Sigma had to abandon one attempt on 2 May due to darkness and short tow lines, then things went a little better on 3 May with two good tow lines attaching Sigma and Lyn together (several mooring lines were donated by the Captain of Moresko 1). A diver from the Lyn had discovered that rocks were pinning the ship in on both sides of her stern, so a tow dead astern would be the only solution. Roy and Craig (2nd Officer on Sigma) were aboard Lyn to co-ordinate the towing attempt and translate instructions and information. With the high tide and all Sigma's power, the Lyn moved astern a few metres but remained stubbornly aground. The longliner Jaqueline, another powerful ship, attempted a tow the following morning but she also couldn't make the Lyn budge.

The six senior officers remained on the Lyn to operate the pumps and machinery with the hope that when the tug Typhoon arrived she would be able to remove the fuel, with the extra buoyancy allowing the ship to be towed free. But eventually the poor old ship gave up, the incoming water overwhelmed the pumps, and a Mayday call was received at lunchtime on Monday 5 May. The 6 officers were quickly and efficiently evacuated from their ship by BAS boats and reunited with their crewmembers on Sigma.

In a way that was a relief for us here as it meant that we didn't have anyone remaining on a damaged ship overnight. The senior officers of Lyn should be commended for all their efforts to re-float their ship, whilst always ensuring the safety of their crew. Later that afternoon the Moresko 1 crew departed the cove on the jigger 101 In Sung, after a great deal of discussion and advice from higher authorities about life raft capacity (101 In Sung did not have enough life raft space for her own crew, let alone the 40 extra from Moresko 1!). Mariners relaxing

By placing the inflated life rafts from Moresko 1 aboard 101 In Sung, Pat ensured that there was sufficient life saving equipment on board for all. That night we had an "Emergency Bar Night" with the Sigma guys in the base bar. Roy earned a reputation as someone who enjoys drinking from those strange bottles of unusually coloured alcoholic liquid at the back of the bar that no-one else drinks.

The tug Typhoon arrived from Stanley on Tuesday 6 May and although she was unable to perform any salvage due to a lack of sufficient pumps, she took 19 members of the Lyn's crew on board and eventually headed back to the Falklands on 8 May. Sigma sailed on 6 May taking the two MRAG observers Marcus and Eugenio and the 24 remaining crewmembers from Lyn and eventually left us - nearly a week later than planned, and after some extremely hard graft on everyone's part. We were very fortunate to have Sigma alongside - it would have been far more difficult to cope with the two wrecked ships and sudden influx of 86 rescued sailors without the huge efforts and good humour of her officers and crew.

So, now we're back to normal - or nearly there, as we're still trying to secure the large amounts of rope and other objects on the decks of both vessels, which would be a shipping hazard were the ships to break up. We're left with two rather unsightly additions to the view from our windows, and a strong smell of diesel when the wind is in the wrong direction. There is approximately 800 tons of fuel on the ships, which is a potential environmental disaster were the ships to break up. An oily sheen has appeared on the water around the wrecks, and as Lyn managed to dump a lot of her bait overboard during the attempts to pull her off, there is a lot of seabird activity round her. Neither ship has functioning freezers any more, so any remaining bait and perishable food is beginning to rot and smell. Moresko 1 is infested with cockroaches and rats, neither of which we are keen to give homes to.

We're now hoping that the fishing companies will arrange salvage before the bad weather we expect at this time of year hits us in earnest and the ships break up.

The South Georgia residents posing!

At the end of the day, there were no casualties and many heroes: Roy, Pat, Peter Taylor (the Captain of Sigma) and Ian Parsons (our Base Commander) who all managed their resources impeccably; Sarah Lurcock who kept up cheerful and efficient radio communications almost continuously for the duration; Howie, Frankie and Kev the boatmen who kept their boats ready to go and worked non-stop during daylight hours; the rest of us on the ground who laboured hard behind the scenes to look after the extra faces and keep the power on and enough food on the table for everyone; the officers and crew of Sigma for too many things to mention; and Tim and Pauline who had an overnight baking session to relieve us from the task of bread-making and also provided a welcome haven when things got too much at KEP. Everyone pulled much more than their weight and we finished the week very tired but upbeat and confident that we'd all done a good job.

Sue Dowling
BAS Medical Officer
King Edward Point, South Georgia
14 May 2003

South Georgia now has its own postcode!

1. The Universal Postal Union in Berne announced on Monday 26 May the introduction of postcodes for the Falklands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and British Antarctic Territory.

2. The reason for the new postcode is because the Falkland Islanders came at the request of Islanders, where fed up with having their mail redirected to places like the Faroe islands, Greenland or Falkirk. A second reason is the need today, to have a post/zip code for on-line transactions.
The first mail sent using the new code

3. The achievement of gaining these new postcodes was as a result of the hard work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Overseas Territories Department working with the Royal Mail and the Universal Postal Union. The new codes are:





Below is an extract from ANAN about the number of visitors to South Georgia this year,


A new high for tourist visits to South Georgia was set during the 2002-03 austral summer, according to data released at this year's International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) annual meeting earlier this month. Those numbers, and observations made at two popular but environmentally sensitive sites at the island, point to the need to review visitor management at those locations, according a researcher who has been visiting the island over the last two decades.

A total of 3,704 tourists landed on South Georgia last season, a rise of 50 per cent on that of 2001-02, and almost 1,000 more than in 1999-2000 when the previous record was set. Of that number, 3,606 arrived on 45 voyages made by 16 different tour ships whose passenger capacities ranged from 24 to 550 passengers. A further 98 visitors went to the island in 14 yachts or small expedition vessels, some of which were commercially operated. Pre-season estimates for 2003-03 had put the number of visiting ships for the season at 15, the number of voyages at 44, and passenger landings at around 3,500, however, no estimate of yacht visits was possible at that time (ANAN-75/03, 19 June 2002).

The cruise vessel 'Marco Polo', which was making its first visit to the island in nine years, was by far the largest tourist ship to visit the island last season (ANAN-63/011, 2 January 2002). Under current management arrangements, it is only permitted to land its passengers at Grytviken as its operating company, US-based Orient Lines, is not a member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (ANAN-77/03, 17 July 2002). Even if its 370 passengers are discounted from the visitor total, a new landings record would still have been set.

As is to be expected, Grytviken received the largest number of tourists (3,649) and ship visits (47) last season, up by almost 1,200 passengers and 13 visits on the official figures for 2001-02. Seven other sites along the northern coast of the island received more than 1,000 visitors, with Gold Harbour (2,162 passengers and 32 visits) topping that list. Others in the top ten sites were: Salisbury Plain (2,024/32); Cooper Bay (1,756/26); Stromness (1,224/19); Saint Andrews Bay (1,190/19); Albatross Island (1,079/23); Prion Island (949/13); Godthul (658/12); and Whistle Cove in Fortuna Bay (502/11).

In all, landings were made at a total of 31 sites, four more than in 2001-02, while the overall number of shore-visit operations rose by 40 per cent from 218 to 304. Off-shore cruising in small inflatable boats was conducted at 22 locations (up from 18), by far the most popular being Elsehul which saw 15 such operations involving 827 people.

In presenting the data, biologist Sally Poncet from the Falkland Islands, who has been conducting research on tourist visitor sites for the last three years, told IAATO members and others at the meeting, including the current Falkland Islands' Governor and Commissioner for South Georgia, His Excellency Howard Pearce, that in her view the time has come to consider limiting the number of people who visit Albatross and Prion Islands.

The populations of wandering albatross nesting at both islands have decreased dramatically in recent years, and while Poncet stressed that the population decline is being driven by fisheries operations and not by tourist visits, the birds are on occasions being inadvertently disturbed by visitors.

Even though the number of visit operations at Prion Island increased by only one, the site experienced a 35 per cent increase in visitors, while at Albatross Island, visits went up by over 50 per cent and passenger numbers by 12 per cent. The average size of visitor groups at Albatross Island dropped from 64 to 47, but at Prion Island the figure increased from 59 to 73.

That potential for disturbance, as visits increase, is believed to be currently being assessed by the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, but whether visit limits will be applied for the 2003-04 season, and if so just what their nature will be, is not known at this stage.

Meanwhile, work is under way on the production of a visitor site-guide for tourists who visit South Georgia. The guide, which will be published in the same format as the 'The Oceanites Site Guide to the Antarctic Peninsula' (ANAN-10/05, 8 December 1999), and the 'Visitor's Guide to the Falkland Islands' (ANAN-59/07, 14 November 2001), is currently expected to be released prior to the 2004-05 austral summer season. Poncet and researcher and tour Expedition Leader Dr Kim Crosbie, are involved in the preparation of the booklet.

Information being used in that work comes from a research project whose aim was to collect precise details of a range of parameters at some of the key tourist visitor sites around the island. These data, which were collected by Poncet and fellow researcher Dr Jenny Scott over the last three austral summers, are being used to develop an up-dated environmental management plan for South Georgia. Its aim is to protect the island's natural values while ensuring sustainable management of economic resources and developments (ANAN-6/06, 13 October 1999).

In addition to visits to South Georgia, the German company Hapag Lloyd's tour ship 'Bremen' visited the South Sandwich Islands on 24-25 January. These islands are also managed by the South Georgia authorities. Off-shore cruising in inflatable rubber boats was conducted at both Candlemas and Zavadovskiy Islands, and 143 people landed on Saunders Island.


Norway's Friends of the Islands in Edinburgh

The Friends of The Island (South Georgia) provided a superb photographic display at the International Festival of the Sea, at Leith, Edinburgh during the period 23 to 25 May. They provided a pictorial display in association with the Fram Museum. The display of stunning photographs included a section on the biodiversity of South Georgia and its cultural heritage, including the whaling era and Shackleton's links with the Island. The display was designed and built by Oystein Froiland.

The photograph shows Kjell Tokstad, Chairman of "Yas Venner" (Friends of the Island) explaining the display to some visitors. Friends of the Island

Annual general meeting of the South Georgia Association: Message from the commissioner.

The new Commissioner "I am delighted to extend on behalf of the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands my best wishes to members of the South Georgia Association on the occasion of the Association's Annual General Meeting."

As a newcomer to South Georgia, I was delighted to have the opportunity to make an early visit to the Island in the first part of March this year. I was able to enjoy the hospitality of Pat and Sarah Lurcock and to visit the British Antarctic Survey base at King Edward Point, to meet Tim and Pauline Carr, and to visit Shackleton's Grave, the Museum, the Church and the Whaling Station at Grytviken. I also paid brief visits to Leith, Stromness, Husvik, Godthul, St Andrews Bay, Salisbury Plain and Peggotty Bluff. Using one of HMS Endurance's boats, I managed a visit to Bird Island and the BAS base there, despite high winds and horizontal sleet. I count myself very fortunate to have been able to see so much of South Georgia in such a short time - and in a wide variety of weather! My visit enabled me to understand why the South Georgia Association has succeeded in attracting so many knowledgeable and enthusiastic members.

To the uninitiated governing a remote South Atlantic Island with a human population of under 20 might appear a straightforward business. But I have rapidly learned that the reverse is the case. To misquote Prime Minister Tony Blair, governing South Georgia is about three things: environment, environment and environment. This applies equally to all four of the South Georgia Government's principal responsibilities: protecting the Island's flora and fauna, managing the commercial fishery, regulating tourism, and conserving the Island's historical heritage and industrial archaeology.

This is a challenging agenda for a Government with very limited means. Our main source of income derives from licensing the commercial fishery. Over 80% of that income is ploughed back into management of the fishery - a striking indication of the South Georgia Government's commitment to responsible conservation of its natural resources. This leaves a relatively small surplus for other activities. Our current overriding priority is the clean-up of the whaling station at Grytviken, in order to make the environment safe for visitors and for those who live and work at Grytviken and King Edward Point. Our aim is that the initial phase of this project should be completed by the end of the next austral summer. It is likely to cost some £6 million, a figure which represents the total of the South Georgia Government's reserves. We are therefore looking urgently and imaginatively at other sources of funding, given our need to retain at least some resources to meet unexpected contingencies. The recent grounding of two fishing vessels in Cumberland Bay illustrates the problems with which the South Georgia Government may unexpectedly have to deal.

I warmly welcome the establishment of the South Georgia Association and the close interest of your membership in this remarkable Island. I and my colleagues are always pleased to have your views and your advice, even if we do not promise always to agree with you! I am particularly encouraged by your decision to hold a conference on South Georgia next September. I look forward to addressing the conference and to meeting many of you in Cambridge later this year.

SG Map

Nigel Sitwell has been responsible for developing the South Georgia Explorer Map. Other maps cover Alaska, Antarcica, Falkland Islands, Southern South America. These maps can be obtained fron Ocean Explorer Maps, Chichester, PO19 8NY, UK Email: info@oceanexplorer.net




News and Events additional to Jun 03

Tony Bomford

It is with much regret to learn that Tony Bomford has died. In particular, he gave so much to the Island of South Georgia as the surveyor on Duncan Carse's team that surveyed the island in the 1950s and produced the map that is still used today.

Below is an obituary for Tony and copy of the address given at his funeral by his friend Graham Budd. They give a clear insight of his contribution to the island and his love of it and an idea of his zest for life.


Adventurer who made his mark on mountains
Author: John Farquharson
Date: 24/05/2003

A friend once called Tony Bomford, a former director of National Mapping, Australia, "a renaissance man". He was certainly in that mould.

Tom Bomford Surveying South Georgia

Professionally he was a brilliant surveyor, mapmaker and mathematician, while his wider interests ranged from travel in wild and remote places and kayaking to stamp collecting, poetry, music, making woollen rugs to mathematical and geometric designs and carving polyhedrons from red box timber.


Two of his rugs with designs based, in technical terms, on "tessellations of the infinite hyperbolic plane", are going through the final processes of being accepted into the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.

A larger than life figure, Tony Bomford, who died in Canberra on May 10 of pancreatic cancer, aged 76, was essentially a restless, irrepressible adventurer. And his "glad passion for surveying" was a passport to seeing country no one had seen before. Of surveying, he once said, "there was nothing I would rather be doing", adding that, "If I'd been born in Captain Cook's day, I'd have wanted to be one of his lieutenants".

He gloried in the challenge of little-known landscapes, kindled early in his career when he undertook several mapping projects for the British Schools Exploring Society on expeditions to Northern Quebec, Iceland and Lapland.

But what gave him most satisfaction in his many years of surveying was his secondment from the British Army in 1955 to Duncan Carse's South Georgia Survey as its chief surveyor. In six months, Bomford and his seven companions surveyed the whole island in atrocious weather, man-hauling heavy sledges over mountainous terrain, living in small two-man tents and negotiating innumerable first ascents with their survey gear.

His map of the British-owned island south of the Falklands won him the Ness Award of the Royal Geographical Society, the citation stating that his work had established a new standard in Antarctic mapping. For more than 40 years his map has remained the definitive map of South Georgia, and one of the sharp spires marked on that map bears the name Bomford Peak. His lucid narrative of the expedition, superbly illustrated with photos taken by himself and others, is now preserved in the Port Stanley museum, in the Falklands.

Bomford was born in India, of English parents, on January 17, 1927. The family was in India because Bomford's father, Guy, an officer of the Royal Engineers was attached to the Survey of India, of which, with the rank of brigadier, he later became director. Brigadier Bomford, the British Army's noted geodesist, went on to be head of survey for General Slim's 14th Army in Burma, before later teaching geodesy at Oxford University.

With that background, it was not surprising that Tony Bomford would follow his father into the Royal Engineers and elect to serve in the Survey Corps, after enlisting in the army in August 1944 straight from Shrewsbury School. The opportunity for tertiary education came when the army gave him two stints at Cambridge University, where he completed the short course in engineering with first-class honours in 1945.

A few years later he was back at Cambridge's Pembroke College to do the engineering tripos. Again he graduated with a first, as well as winning an extra year - giving him three years in all - to do specialist studies in mathematics.

While at Cambridge in 1951 he married Adelaide-born Elizabeth Honey, whom he had met the previous year. Back with the army, he went on a two-year secondment with the British Overseas Survey to Tanganyika (now Tanzania). While there, interest in Australia, which his marriage had stirred, led him to take leave in 1954 to visit the country. Four years later he was back on exchange from the British Ordnance Survey to work with the Australian Army Survey Corps. He worked on mapping projects in central Queensland and the Kimberleys where, in the more difficult country, surveying was done with the use of helicopters, an innovation at that time. His work in the Kimberleys led to one of the features he mapped being named Mount Bomford.

After that stint in Australia, Bomford returned to Britain determined that he would make his future life there. He spent two years with the Ordnance Survey before moving to Australia and joining the Division of National Mapping in 1961 as a senior surveyor. The next 20 years at National Mapping saw him become supervisor of geodetic surveying, assistant director and then director in 1977, after having turned down the offer of an academic post at London University a year earlier. He remained director for five years, before taking early retirement in 1982. During those years he made a significant contribution as a member of the National Mapping Council's technical subcommittee, as well as to the Institution of Surveyors, of which he became president, and as examination secretary of the Institution of Cartographers. As surveyor, assistant director and director, he made a major contribution, particularly on the technical front. He worked hard to establish harmonious working relations with state surveying organisations and the Army Survey Corps.

Retirement gave Bomford what he said were the best 20 years of his life, opening the door to creative work at home and adventurous travel abroad. As his close friend Grahame Budd recalled, sometimes on commercial treks or cruises, but more often on private trips with just one or two companions, he walked and climbed in many parts of North and South America, Iceland, the Himalayas and other countries; kayaked in Greenland, New Guinea and other waters; and revisited South Georgia. Every trip yielded a written and illustrated narrative. Those narratives, together with his field and personal diaries, more than 80 volumes in all, will go into the National Library's manuscripts collection.

In the eyes of those close to him, he was a warm-hearted, generous man with a gift for friendship, invariably exuding cheerful matter-of-factness in trying circumstances. To any task in hand his commitment was absolute.

However, his abounding enthusiasm was sometimes a trial to his colleagues, especially in the field when he would insist upon working, even on lie-up days.

When cancer was diagnosed early last year, he was given about six weeks to live. In the event, he had a year and three months, enabling him last November to undertake one last adventure - a visit to Heard Island and some of the other more remote islands of the South Indian Ocean, then six weeks before he died, one last kayaking outing on Canberra's Lake Burley Griffin.

His wife, Elizabeth, two sons (Richard and Philip) and two daughters (Mary and Annabel) survive him.

John Farquharson is a Canberra writer and former deputy editor of The Canberra Times.


Grahame Budd's speaking notes for Tony's funeral Thurs 29 May 2003

Tony was a larger-than-life figure, and I can't hope to do justice to all his adventurous activities and interests. He was educated at Shrewsbury school in England, where he acquired a love of poetry from an inspiring teacher called McEachran - 'Kek' to his pupils. Kek believed, quite rightly, that good poetry is a form of magic, a kind of spell, and that like all magic spells it should be spoken aloud - sometimes even by boys standing on their desks.

Tony recalled an occasion when the whole class had shouted in unison a particularly noisy spell - perhaps Nietzsche's lines "I'm not a man, I'm dynamite!" Soon afterwards the school porter appeared at the classroom door, bearing a message from the headmaster: "Headmaster's compliments, sir, and could Mr McEachran please keep his class in order."

When Kek published an anthology of poetry - under the inevitable title of "Spells" - Tony took it to Lapland, where Warwick Deacock got to know it. Then Warwick took it to Heard Island, where I came to know it … and so the ripples spread, and "Spells" became part of many people's lives - enhanced for all of us by a feeling of apostolic succession, because Tony had actually been there, he was one of those who had stood on their desks and shouted for Kek.

I'd like to say a little about Tony's professional life and achievements, and about our times together.

In the late 1940s Tony was in the British Army. He was a Captain in the Survey Branch of the Royal Engineers, and also a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RISC). He spent three years as an instructor at the School of Military Survey, and was seconded from the army to lead several expeditions of the British Schools Exploring Society to such places as Northern Quebec, Iceland, and Lapland.

In the early 1950s Tony spent two years surveying in Tanganyika (now Tanzania), working alone in remote areas with a group of local helpers who would clear trails and build trig points. Naturally, he climbed Kilimanjaro.

Then in 1955 he was seconded to Duncan Carse's South Georgia Survey as its chief surveyor. This was one of the classic Antarctic expeditions. In six months Tony and his seven companions surveyed the whole island, in atrocious weather, manhauling heavy sledges over mountainous terrain, living in small two-man tents, and carrying their survey gear up innumerable first ascents.

Tony's enthusiasm was sometimes a trial to his companions. However unpromising the weather, he never missed an opportunity to occupy yet another survey station. Even on lie-up days, when the weather was too bad for outdoor work, he would forgo the usual relaxation and instead would work up his observations on a hand-cranked calculator.

Tom Price, one of his companions, remarked that Tony had "a glad passion for surveying". Surveying was, of course, a passport to seeing country no-one had seen before. But there appeared to be another reason - through surveying, converting the messy three-dimensional landscape into an orderly two-dimensional map, he could begin to make sense of the world. Tony himself wrote that "There was nothing I would rather be doing." And he recently remarked that "If I had been born in Captain Cook's day, I'd have wanted to be one of his lieutenants."

The Royal Geographical Society awarded Tony its Ness Award for the map of South Georgia that he produced, and the citation reported that his work had established a new standard in Antarctic mapping. For more than 40 years Tony's map has remained the definitive map of South Georgia. His lucid narrative of the expedition, superbly illustrated with photos by Tony and others, is now preserved in the Museum of Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands.

Tony's work on South Georgia was so highly regarded that the British Antarctic Survey invited him to lead one of its two-year wintering parties to Marguerite Bay, its most southerly base. Though sorely tempted, Tony declined. Elizabeth and their children had spent nearly three years without a husband and father, and it was time for some family life. They settled in Canberra, where in 1961 Tony joined the Division of National Mapping.

However, the objectives and techniques of survey were changing, in ways that no longer satisfied Tony. So in 1982, after five years as Director of the Division, he took early retirement.

There then commenced what Tony said were the best twenty years of his life - alternating between satisfying creative work at home in Canberra and almost constant adventurous travel abroad. Sometimes on commercial treks or cruises, but often on private trips with just one or two companions, he walked and climbed in many parts of North and South America, Iceland, the Himalayas, and other countries; kayaked in Greenland, New Guinea, and other waters; revisited South Georgia; and got to know numerous other islands. Every journey yielded a crisply written and beautifully illustrated narrative - all the volumes of which are now held in the National Library.

I first met Tony in 1965, when we were both involved in helping Warwick and Antonia Deacock build Chakola in Kangaroo Valley and establish Ausventure Holidays - an enterprise that was greatly helped by Tony's generous support and encouragement.

Since then, I and my wife Josephine Bastian and our three children have shared many delightful bushwalks and ski tours with Tony (and also with Jason, his spotted Dalmatian) in the Snowy, the Budawangs, the Blue Mountains, the Himalayas - and eventually South Georgia in Jerome Poncet's 50 foot motor-sailer Golden Fleece (an apt name for Tony's voyage), when Tony at last achieved his dream of circumnavigating the island. Josephine and Martin and I were privileged to have Tony show us every feature of the island - and even to admire the sharp spire of Bomford Peak, though sadly not to climb it.

Last November I was able to return the favour, when Jo and I shared with Tony and Jenny a visit to Heard Island - South Georgia's natural twin - and the other lovely islands of the South Indian Ocean.

Over all these years I and my family have valued Tony's gift for friendship, his warmth, his generosity, his stimulating company, and his cheerful matter-of-factness in trying circumstances. We've admired his abundant energy, his lively intelligence, and his sheer competence in everything he did. He has been an important influence in our children's lives. His restless mind devoured books on history, philosophy, mathematics, literature, art, and poetry - to name a few. His equally restless hands made rugs of great beauty and originality, and wooden polyhedrons that expressed complex mathematical relationships.

Tony endured his final illness with grace and courage - qualities also shown by his devoted companion Jenny Chapman, and by his family. When we heard that he viewed his approaching death as "a new adventure", we weren't altogether surprised. Having travelled over so much of this world, perhaps he felt the challenge of the next one - "The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn / No traveller returns", as Hamlet said. Certainly he was deeply moved when he received, independently from myself and from his old leader Duncan Carse, a reminder of the heroic resolve of Tennyson's Ulysses in old age:

"Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars …"

… and so on. That sounds very like Tony.

To conclude, I'd like to read you a few stanzas from a poem that Tony's dear friend Olivia Tsosie wrote for him, from New Mexico, when she first learned of his illness:

"I want a world with this Tony
in it - charging up ridges,
wondering how to find the car
after taking sights from a
New Zealand trig point
In a New Zealand sheep field
On South Island …

looking wandering albatrosses in the eye,
holding off stroppy fur seals
on island beaches,
laying in wood against the winter -
waste not want not -
enjoying the pleasure of the cross cut saw
and the effort of the ax;
cooking known grams of stir fry meat
with veggies in a skillet
outside the kitchen,
to keep the ceiling clean;

keeping journals, building diaries
illustrated with such
photos as some might
make a career just showing
in a gallery here or there;

tying rugs that take hyperspace
into two dimensions,
woodworking complex polyhedrals,
planning trips, and kayaking
in the Ozian morning
on an artificial lake;
a careful correspondent,
attentive to details
I can't even see - loving art
that moves him
and taking me to see Brancusi's Birds in Space
and the Magna Carta."

I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say to Tony, "Fare well, old friend. We've had some great times together, and we shall miss you."


Grytviken Whaling Station

GSGSSI has reached an agreement with Anglia Water Group (previously Morrison) on 7 April on how to make Grytviken Whaling Station safe. In short, this season GSGSSI are going to remove hazards from the station and will only demolish what is absolutely necessary to demolish for safety reasons.

Scope of works for the first season

1. Make the station safe from all contaminant materials that present risk on the site as far as is reasonably practical.

2. Render the site safe for future visits by ensuring elimination of the physical hazards presented by deteriorating structures as far as is reasonably practical.

Scope of works for the second season

The form and extent of this work has yet to be decided in detail. It is likely to include clearance of non-hazardous debris and enhancement of the site utilising existing elements and without the introduction of new materials.

First Season - Broad description of works

1. Remove all asbestos from the site and arrange disposal to UK standards, or as otherwise agreed, in an appropriate disposal site.

2. Remove and dispose of all waste oils and lubricants from the former whaling station area and former whale catchers Albatross and Diaz.

3. Make safe, remove and dispose of old gas and pressurised air cylinders.

4. Remove or provide safe storage for PCB contaminated oils found on site.

5. Make secure unsafe structures (if necessary and no other cost-effective solution is available, by demolition).

6. Ensure site is left in a non-hazardous condition where winter storms will not disperse materials into the surrounding area.

The plan is not to bury the asbestos beneath the football pitch. The pitch is considered to be of historical and cultural interest and to change the shape of the ground there was not appropriate. Another suitable site close by where there has not been buildings or football in the past has been chosen.

Assistant Operations Manager

Finally it is of note an Assistant Operations Manager for GSGSSI has been appointed. His name is Richard McGee and he will take up his post on 21 July. We all wish him well.


That wraps up the news and events for Summer 2003, but keep an eye out for our next update.

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