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Detaille has a small colony of Adelie Penguins, but more interestingly, there is an abandoned British base. Detaille was closed in 1959 and still it feels like they simply closed the door and walked out. Until recent years, old magazines, packets of jelly and pudding mix, paperwork, it was all there, slowly deteriorating over time. It has recently been cleaned up by the British Antarctic Heritage Trust, but that feeling of stepping into a time warp still exists.
Where is it?
Just South of Crystal Sound and the Antarctic Circle, Detaille is a small island, lying 11 miles east of Liard Island, and a couple of miles northwest of Andersen Island, in the mouth of Lallemand Fjord.
Sheltered by Adelaide Island, the Arrowsmith Peninsula and Liard Island from weather coming in from the west, Detaille looks like it should be easy to reach. Unfortunately, like everywhere else this far south, ice is also a big factor in accessing the island. The waters here can be choked with sea ice even at the best time of the year, in the second half of summer (December/January/
The small (aprox. 1,000 pair) colony of Adelie penguins is a short stroll from the base, but they are protected by a break in the landscape that often makes watching from across a little inlet the better option.
The British opened Detaille 21 February 1956 for survey, geology and meteorology work. The base was evacuated at the end of March 1959, when the base members shut up shop and transferred to nearby Horseshoe Island due to the problems with supply and access caused by sea ice and weather. Very little was removed from the island when the men departed, and cold conditions have meant that most things left behind were preserved reasonably well in the ice.
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