A new book, Campbell Island 1955-56 – 1958-60, by George Poppleton.
Available from Jenn Falconer, 17 Volga Street, Melrose, WELLINGTON, New Zealand.
Email: [email protected] Price: $39.95 + $5 P&P,( NZ Dollars), or e-mail Jenn for the current price in US dollars
George Poppleton's frank account of three years on Campbell Island during the 1950s has created a quirky book. George went down there as expedition leader late in 1955 to put into place foundations for a
weather station which is still on the island today although now obsolete. He returned for a further 2 years 1958-1960 living this time in the completed, purpose built station hostel with fewer builders and more scientists for
Although the star of the book is the island itself with its remote stark beauty, wonderful birds and mammals, incredible plants and very fickle weather, this book presents stories about day-to-day
living. Frustrated men coping with feckless machines. The building and scientific programmes are the reason for the men to be there but the stories are predominately domestic. Descriptions of special meals and parties,
disastrous cooking adventures, visiting ships and their personnel, and bizarre practical jokes sit along side a recorded daily grind of keeping machinery running.Good equipment was particularly important during winter when
daylight hours are reduced to six or seven depending on the day, and there might not be a ship visit for some months.
The criteria the Civil Aviation Authority used to select men seemed a bit haphazard, and so learning about each others strengths and weaknesses is an enduring theme of the book. It's
written in the idiom of the time when the idea of women on the island would have been unthinkable.
The book has 250 pages of stories, announcements, recipes and menus; there are line drawings of ships swimming through text, a cartoon, floor plans, site plans, black
and white images of varying quality, philatelic envelopes, a hand drawn fold-out map in brilliant yellow and blue, and twelve colour pages crammed to the gills with contemporary photographs. George has included an introduction,
acknowledgements, and reflection and it is indexed. Encased in a clear blue cover with a wonderful image of Perseverance Harbour from Coast Watcher's Cave circa 1956 - it's a colourful and colloquial book about Campbell Island,
the most remote Subantarctic island and now a World Heritage site.