The settlement of Darwin is named after the famous naturalist Charles Darwin, who visited the area in 1833. He is reputed to have spent the night at the site of Darwin. The settlement was founded in 1859, initially as a centre for cattle ranching and later, for sheep farming. A large stone corral and cattle shed, built in the late 1800s, still stand today. Darwin was once the largest centre of population outside Stanley with over 200 workers on the payroll. At the height of its development, the community included shepherds and farm hands, as well as master craftsmen, a doctor, a schoolmaster and a parson. By 1920 the site had become too small for the growing population and, over the next two years, all the farm buildings, the church and most of the houses were transferred to Goose Green. As they were built of wood, it was possible to jack them up, position them on sleds and haul them to the new location.
It’s hard to imagine how Darwin was once the largest settlement after Stanley – the permanent population now stands at just 7 but the location has lost none of its appeal. Now, its proximity to the international airport at Mount Pleasant (approx 45 minutes drive), makes Darwin an ideal place to start or finish your your holiday in the Falklands. Also Darwin airstrip is right on the doorstep meaning they are conveniently placed for local flights to other settlements.
Darwin House, with its great water-front setting, promises good wholesome country food using home grown and organically produced ingredients as much as possible and warm comfortable accommodation:
• Converted modern farmhouse
• 6 rooms (2 double, 2 twin, 2 double/twin, additional cot beds available)
• All rooms ensuite
• Full board accommodation
• Large comfortable lounge, conservatory and honesty bar
• Full and half day guided tours
• Transport to/from Mount Pleasant Airport
• First Falkland Islands members of Wholesome Food Association
• No smoking policy throughout
The menu at Darwin often includes the following fresh items sourced or grown locally: Lamb, beef, toothfish, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, herbs and many varieties of vegetables.
This destination is of particular appeal to those with an interest in military history. Fascinating tours for those even with the vaguest of interests cover the battlefields of 1982 and the Argentine and British cemeteries at Darwin and San Carlos respectively.
A visit to Bodie Creek Bridge is also worthwhile as it is the world’s southernmost suspension bridge. Bodie Creek Bridge Built in 1926 mainly for the movement of sheep it is a feat of engineering and well worth a visit. Unfortunately due to being beyond economic restoration its lifespan is exceedingly limited. Sited some seven kilometres from Darwin House, Bodie Creek Bridge is within walking distance for the discerning walker, however if you prefer transport can be arranged for a drop off and/or pick up.
Visit Goose Green synonymous from the 1982 conflict, where the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment liberated 115 residents who had been kept captive in the local community hall for 29 days. See the wreck of the vicar of Bray, the last remains of a 19th century gold rush ship sited at the end of the the Jetty, or tour the shearing shed which used to be the largest shearing shed in the world and during the season watch sheep shearing in progress on what is still one of the largest sheep farms in the Falklands.
Guided tours of the San Carlos, Darwin and Goose Green area can be arranged. During these tours, you will visit the British and Argentine Cemetaries and Memorials including a monument to Col H. Jones and the battlefield sites .
Other activities at Darwin include angling and excellent walking. Fishing is available in the harbour where local mullet can be caught. Aternatively a guide can be arranged to take you to one of the two main creeks close by where during the permitted season you can fish for sea trout. The highest mountain in the Falklands at 2312 feet (705m) is Mt Usborne. A challenge to the most discerning walker, on a clear day Mt Usborne provides spectacular views from the summit all over East Falkland and across Falkland Sound to West Falkland. Transport can be arranged to varying locations towards and on Mt Usborne with pre-arranged collection times and pick up.
For those with their own transport, Darwin provides an ideal base for the exploration of Lafonia and the eastern shore of Falkland Sound.
Main photo Bodie Creek Bridge courtesy Mark Spicer