South Georgia island is a little British overseas territory north of Antarctica. It’s hard to describe precisely where it is because, well, it’s a pretty lonely place.
Ah, there it is.
It was sighted by a few sailors in the early 18th century, but they just saw a cold rock. Such philistines. After a while, in 1775, captain James Cook saw it. He was giddy at the particularly British thought of expanding the Her Majesty’s Empire, so he hopped off HMS Resolution and planted a flag. Nice going, Jim!
Centuries later it became a very popular whaling spot. In fact, it became the #1 place in the world to sail around and endanger a species. After all the whales were gone, it was fought over during the Falklands War in a few but noteworthy small skirmishes. Once that whole situation had cooled down, it was (sort of) handed back over to the British.
Interestingly, the famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackelton is buried there. He wrote a very good book about his whole ordeal which I recommend you read (It’s also available on tape).
Cars, though. Right. Back to cars.
Although not many people live in South Georgia–the population peaks at around 32 in the summer–it’s a reasonably large island at 1,362 square miles. People still need to get around, and despite the poor quality or complete lack of roads, this is made possible by at least one unique machine.
Believe it or not, there is Google Streetview on South Georgia’s largest settlement, Grytviken. After a little browsing around their museum (which is also on Streetview) and admiring the massive and dilapidated whale oil tanks, I finally found a car. It’s an awfully British Land Rover Defender.
This Defender is the 3-door variant, and if you’re wondering why I’ve been referring to it as THE PANTHER; there you go. Its endearing name is also not the only thing that’s been scribbled on it.
It appears that, instead of the cherished Union Jack, there is a pair of underwear flying proudly on the door of THE PANTHER. There’s also something written on the hood, but I can’t make out what it says. Here, I’ll try and enhance it:
Man, that didn’t help at all. That always works in the movies.
Message in a Bottle
I sent a (probably forlorn) email to the government of South Georgia (They can’t possibly be very busy, right?) to try and get some more information. They have yet to respond to me (story of my life) but I know there’s at least one other car on the island. It looks like a sixth-gen Toyota Hilux with the 2.8-liter diesel engine.
They used it in the island’s first-ever pride parade, held in 2018. Crowds look a little thin (despite consisting of the island’s entire population) but they seem to be having a good time. The only other audience would be the seals. There are a lot of seals pretty much everywhere you look.
This one seems friendly enough.
I hope these two can settle their differences.
This bob of seals (yes it’s called a bob, yes I googled it) looks like they’re planning something, or doing something illegal. I think I might see some dice on the grass there.
This seal asked not to be identified.