Last Resting Place Of A Great Explorer

“I chose life over death for myself and my friends….I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown, The only true failure would be not to explore at all. “ ~ Sir Ernest Shackleton

On January 5th, the 95th anniversary of the great explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s death, our cruise ship anchored just off Grytviken within King Edward Cove. The now rusted whaling station is today the site of the South Georgia Museum, and lies within a sheltered harbour tucked between Hope Cove and Hobart Rock, on the western shore of Cumberland East Bay.

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We got ourselves all togged out in our many layers of warm clothing and hopped onto the Zodiac inflatable which would take us ashore.

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The first place to visit was the whalers’ cemetery where there are sixty-four graves.

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The most visited and photographed of these is, of course, that of Shackleton himself, who used Grytviken when planning the rescue of his crew from the ill-fated ‘Endurance’ in 1915.  His body was returned to South Georgia at his widow’s request after he died from a heart attack whilst at sea in 1922, and he was laid to rest in his favourite place on earth, Antarctica. The back of this simple granite column is engraved with a quote from his best-loved poet, Robert Browning, “I hold that man should strive to the uttermost for his life’s set prize.”

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Elephant seals and fur seals occupy the main beaches around the bay.

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This one was proudly keeping watch over his harem and family.

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The sound of snoring from this super-relaxed napper was very audible indeed.

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Who could resist taking a photo of this cute baby seal?

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King Penguins come ashore to moult during the summer months. This one was happy to pose, as he was still sporting his full plumage.

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The Grytviken whaling station was established by sea captain Carl Larsen in 1904, and in its heyday was serviced by 300 men. It was abandoned in 1966 when whale numbers had dropped to an alarmingly low level.

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Abandoned whaling ships litter the coastal landscape and add to the ghostliness of this place.

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The seals were just everywhere. One had to be careful not to trip over them.

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The tiny Norwegian church, the oldest church in Antarctica, was shipped from Norway and consecrated on Christmas Day in 1913.

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It’s been restored and is in good condition, although it hasn’t had a pastor since 1931.

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It was a most fascinating visit and I wish I could show you all the photos we took inside the museum, but maybe I’ll do that in another post.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of what I saw on my amazing trip. More to follow when I have sorted through my photos.

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