Stanley, Falkland Islands

One of the more remote places in the world, 480km off the east coast of South America, the Falkland Islands are about the same size as Wales or Connecticut but home to less than 4,000 people. The vast majority live in Stanley, the main (only) settlement of size on the islands, which is basically a small British town. It’s a fascinating place to visit, quite surreal to have been so aware of it (mainly due to the 1982 Falklands War) but have no idea what to expect.

We got lucky with the weather, relatively little wind (very unusual) and it only rained once! Larger cruise ships can’t make it into the harbour itself, instead anchoring in Blanco Bay, with tender boats used to get people ashore. It’s an interesting landscape, pretty flat, devoid of any trees and home to houses with colourful roofs.

The town is small, with the majority of things of interest along a 1km stretch of the waterfront on Ross Road. The first thing that caught my eye from the dock was this row of Victorian houses from 1887 which wouldn’t be out of place in most British towns. I lived in one very similar during my time at university.

Christ Church Cathedral and it’s whale bone arch are the iconic images of Stanley, if you’ve seen any images, which I hadn’t before visiting.

A derelict pier juts out before Victory Green, home to cannons from the early 1800s, the mizzen mast of SS Great Britain, which was wrecked in Stanley for decades before being taken back to Bristol in the 1970s and restored, and behind it colourful houses on Marmot Row, originally a hotel and cottages built in 1854.

A few buildings of interest followed, the town hall, post office and only bank on the island, and the pictured police station and St Mary’s Church.

The Historic Dockyards Museum was probably the highlight of Stanley, a fascinating and comprehensive museum covering every aspect of life on the islands, well laid out and presented.

Out back was a 4WD, which is the only way to get around the islands outside of Stanley, and therefore almost every vehicle in town was a 4WD. It’s telling that the only car showroom I saw was for Land Rover…

Memorial Green was home to the Liberation Monument commemorating the the 1982 conflict, with nearby a statue of a familiar lady on Thatcher Drive.

Government House was built in 1845 (a busy year with many of the civic buildings constructed then) and further on was another war memorial, this time for the Battle of the Falkland Islands in 1914.

There were a lot of shipwrecks in Stanley, with many ships damaged making it round Cape Horn and abandoned in Stanley when the cost of repairs were too high. The only ones remaining visible in the harbour are the Jhelum, which has been there for over 145 years, and in the other direction, toward the airport, the more intact wreck of the Lady Elizabeth.

At the other end of town are the Cross of Sacrifice and extensive Stanley Cemetery.

Throughout town there were amazing lupines in flower, possibly even more colourful and varied than those I saw in Ushuaia.

Many of the houses and buildings were nearly as colourful.

The Falkland Islands are renowned for their wildlife, particularly bird life including many penguins, which seemed to be the main attraction for most of the people on the ship. I was more interested in the history and landscape of the place but still saw a few birds in town and a sea lion by our ship.

We were treated to another spectacular sunset before we left, bringing the landscape and sky to life.

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