South Georgia is a remote British possession deep in the southern Atlantic Ocean, whose “capital” of Grytviken is a former whaling station.
In Grytviken, I meet Sarah Lurcock who manages the island’s museum and is as close as South Georgia gets to a permanent inhabitant. With her husband, a government officer, she has spent eight months of the year on the island and the rest in the UK for nearly 20 years.
“Staying longer here is a privilege afforded to only a few,” she says. “Some visitors wonder at how people can stay for months or years in such a remote place, but they forget we have plenty of visitors, winter and summer through, plenty of interesting work to keep us busy and a huge natural playground to enjoy if there is a spare moment.
“Staying longer allows an intimacy with the rhythms of the island. In my diary I have noted the day we can expect to see the first skua return after winter, the first elephant seal born on the beach outside our house, the last day the sun hits King Edward Point as it sinks behind Mount Duse for the middle of winter – and the first time the weak edges of the rays of sun creep back to light just the tip of the Point.
“When you come to South Georgia, if you ‘get it’ then beware as you end up with the bug, the pressing need to keep finding a way back.” I believe her.
Get more stories and travel tips. Join TRVL
A Christmas church service at Grytviken Whaling Station. Although there are no permanent inhabitants, South Georgia has a small rotating population of scientists and support staff from the British Antarctic Survey as well as a museum staff and British Government officers.