Meet The Man Who Bought A Falkland Island For £30k

 

 

Carcass Island in the Falklands is a tiny sandy land mass measuring just 10km long and 2.5km at its widest point.

Despite its far-flung location, this wind-swept spot is a place 72-year-old Rob McGill fondly calls home – and MailOnline Travel spent several days navigating some of the choppiest waters in the world to reach it.

During a visit there with polar cruise company Poseidon Expeditions, Rob told MailOnline Travel about island life and how he felt extremely isolated during the 1982 Falklands War between Britain and Argentina.

Island life: Rob McGill lives on windswept Carcass Island with his wife, Lorraine 

The farmer came across Carcass Island 44 years ago and with help from the bank, managed to buy it for £30,000.

He said he decided to leave the bright lights of Stanley behind – the capital of the Falklands Islands – after getting fed up with people.

The jolly septuagenarian explained: ‘I used to work in Stanley on the boats and things. But as time went on I decided I just didn’t like people’s attitudes and I wanted a more peaceful life.’

Before buying Carcass Island – named after HMS Carcass, which visited in the late 18th century – with his wife Lorraine,  Rob lived on Sea Lion Island for a while.

They were attracted to Carcass’s more northerly location and the fact it was closer to neighbouring islands.

The couple soon went about managing the farm – originally set up in 1872 – and a small bed and breakfast for tourists.

The McGills went about setting up a farm and a small bed and breakfast for tourists on Carcass Island 

The McGills went about setting up a farm and a small bed and breakfast for tourists on Carcass Island

The McGill household boasts lush gardens with mature trees and green lawns 

The McGill household boasts lush gardens with mature trees and green lawns

Today they have around 2,000 sheep, 20 cattle and lush vegetable patches brimming with potatoes and carrots. For power, there is a wind turbine and two diesel generators.

For transportation around the island, there is a Land Rover, boat and small air strip where necessary supplies are flown in around every two weeks. Larger goods are shipped in via ferry every six weeks.

Talking about day-to-day life, Rob said: ‘Every day goes by really quickly, you have interesting people come and stay.

It was a long period of mental strain and I was here feeling very helpless

‘We have five people working here, including a baker, cook and gardeners.

‘We have lambs for the oven and get milk, butter and cream from the cows.

‘But we import cheese, it’s far better than trying to make our own. And we don’t have chickens for eggs but we can get them via a ten-minute flight.’

The McGills brought up their son and daughter on Carcass Island, and said it made for an idyllic family base.

Like many children spread across the Falkland Islands, the McGill children went to a boarding school in Stanley.

It was there that they found themselves stuck the day the war broke out on April 2, 1982.

Carcass Island is also home to hundreds of Magellanic penguins 

Carcass Island is also home to hundreds of Magellanic penguins

Carcass Island was named after HMS Carcass, which visited in the late 18th century

Carcass Island was named after HMS Carcass, which visited in the late 18th century

Rob said his wife was with the children and they found themselves trapped in Stanley as gunfire started to blast.

He had to wait at home as they tried to work their way back west.

It took them several days to drive in a Land Rover across East Falkland, where Stanley is located, before they boarded a boat to get home.

The family also took in an evacuee for the duration of the 74-day war.

Reminiscing about the period of conflict, Rob said:  ‘We felt very isolated during the war.

‘There was no mail or airplanes running. There was also no proper radio running and we could only get in contact with a doctor one a day.

There was no mail or airplanes running. There was also proper radio running and we could only get in contact with a doctor one a da

‘For us, we were always tuned into BBC world service. We’d tune in about 20 times a day just hoping for good news.’

Rob said that people in the area had a feeling war was on its way long before it broke out.

He revealed: ‘You could tell something was different that year, there were helicopters flying around a lot. A friend from Argentina said he would send me some honey but it took a long time to arrive.’

Finally, after around two months, the war ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, returning the islands to British control.

In total, 649 Argentinian and 255 British military personnel were killed. There were also three Falkland Islanders who died during the hostilities.

Rob concluded on the subject: ‘It was a long period of mental strain and I was here feeling very helpless. During the war all of the little island hopper planes got damaged.

Carcass Island is in the northwestern portion of the Falkland Islands

Finally, after around two months, the Falklands War ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, returning the islands to British control. In total, 649 Argentinian and 255 British military personnel were killed

Finally, after around two months, the Falklands War ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, returning the islands to British control. In total, 649 Argentinian and 255 British military personnel were killed

‘It was a great relief when everything was over.’

Fast forwarding in time, Rob says having the internet has changed things massively and it’s a ‘great help when you’re living on an island’, even with little things like checking the weather.

He said, as he chuckled and offered me another delicious home-baked biscuit: ‘Ours has been broken for a couple of days and it’s completely thrown things. People have access to so much information now.’

On bidding farewell to Rob, I had a wander around Carcass Island and was soon swept away by its charm.

On one white sand beach I came across a colony of gentoo and Magellanic penguins waddling around and heckling at each other.

Meanwhile, outside Rob’s house a giant striated caracara bird of prey stopped on the lawn to have his photo taken.

I’m not sure if I could live somewhere so remote, but for the McGills they’re happily enjoying their slice of paradise. Rob certainly achieved his goal of a ‘more peaceful life’.

HOW TO GET TO CARCASS ISLAND

Carcass Island is in the northwestern portion of the Falkland Islands.

Visitors to the small land mass can arrive either via the government air service or on one of the many cruise ships that sail to the island each summer.

Poseidon Expeditions runs various wildlife and photography trips that stop at the Falklands and South Georgia, from £4995.

Rob and Lorraine McGill offer accommodation on the island, with home-cooked meals provided.

Rooms are available to book via various local tour operators and also via Audley Travel.

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