Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Far Side of the World.

So, the other day, I was going to refer to Wouter's Blog in a post as "antipodean". Out of curiosity, I went to see what Wikipedia had to say on the topic, and had typed in a-n-t-i-p-o-d... when autocomplete let me know that there actually was such a place as the Antipodes Islands. Huh.

The Antipodes, situated some 530 miles southeast of New Zealand and about a hundred miles northwest of the ass end of nowhere, are inhospitable, largely treeless, and covered with a lush mat of grasses, mosses, and bird droppings.

They were important during the last part of the 19th Century because, in those days, the most common way to go drop off a cargo of ne'er-do-wells and hooligans in Botany Bay and then pop over to New Zealand to pick up a fresh load of Mokomokai to bring back to London was to sail around the Cape of Good Hope and right into the Roaring Forties.

Since nobody had weather radar or a good GPS on their clipper ships, they were all the time getting blown off course and wrecking in these and other nearby islands. Eventually, the New Zealand government built regularly-patrolled castaway depots on them, to put a stop to shipwrecked sailors dying of exposure while huddling in huts made of driftwood and biscuit tins.

As a sign of the boundless optimism of the age, an English family business decided to try and struggle back from its losses after its rope factory burned down by branching out into the whaling business, and they decided that the Auckland islands, some four hundred miles to the west of the Antipodes and every bit as depressing, would be a splendid place to plant a colony. It fizzled quicker than a Fred Thompson presidential campaign, and the Enderby family went broke.

I have this uncontrollable desire now to go to stand next to that old cemetery on Auckland Island just so I can say "Yup. This is the middle of nowhere, alright."


Ausprepper said...

Them "ne'er-do-wells and hooligans" were me great great great great great great great great great mammies and pappies.
A fine bunch 'till our stock were soured with them civilized types!

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

mikelaforge said...

GilliGOOGLEganing eh?