The Falklands ewe-turn: from sheep farming to tourism

  • Tuesday 03, December 2019 01:11 PM
  • The Falklands ewe-turn: from sheep farming to tourism
Sharjah24 – AFP: Late in life, Tony Heathman has sought out pastures new: the 70-year-old former sheep shearer now spends his days driving tourists around the Falklands Islands.
If that sounds like an odd career switch, his story is typical on the remote British archipelago, where tourism is an increasingly popular side hustle for workers in the grueling livestock industry.

Heathman works for his 38-year-old daughter Nyree's Estancia Tours in the South Atlantic territory, having long ago handed over his farm to his other daughter.

"A lot of people will save up their leave and take days off to just drive down here for a day when the big ships come in," Heathman said on a gusty trip to Volunteer Point, a peninsula famous for the islands' signature species, the king penguin.

Driving tourists around one of the Falklands' main attractions is Heathman's main job these days.

- Grueling work -
There are 92 farms and some 500,000 sheep on the Falklands.

Goose Green farm on East Falkland island employs five sheep shearers and as many "rouseys" -- the women who shake out the freshly shorn wool. It is grueling work.

Life on the Falklands can be slow, to the extent that the recent opening of a movie theater in the capital Stanley caused a stir.

There are no internet is expensive and can be frustratingly slow. Restaurants open for business at around 6:00 pm and often stop taking orders by 8:30 pm.

Falkland Islanders proudly boast about 60 nationalities among a population of just 3,400.

Ten percent are Chileans while there are also burgeoning communities of Filipinos, Saint Helenians and even Zimbabwean deminers.

Many internal flights are called off due to gusting winds and occasionally the ship carrying food stocks runs into difficulties, from the weather or Argentina, which continues to claim sovereignty despite Britain asserting its authority since 1833.