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When we were thinking for the name of the band that will include saxophone, fretless bass, acoustic guitar with heavy usage of guitar effects and computer electronics into a genre that will fuse ambient, improvisational jazz and experiment one name pop into my mind. In one of my vivid dreams I visited uncharted islands by the name Orfada. They had domesticated polar bears as a mediums to another worlds and have fjords all around the coast that served as aquatic streets like Venice. Name is figment of my subconscious imagination and it means nothing. Like Kodak means nothing, but just sounds good. So I choose that name for our band and the bandmates agreed. While we played and recorded music I started to build up the image of the band. I started to write, one by one, chapters of now still ongoing novel for every song of our two releases. You can read them at facebook.com/Orfada.band/notes
Anyway, this writings, however they are surrealistic needed some research. Since we live in satellite era when there is no uncharted territory I am looking for uninhabited and uninhabitable islands and their history. Stories about settlements and shipwrecks or sailors legends.
While you look at those subantarctic islands from satellite images they look gorgeous even they quite unhospitable (if you are not seal or a bird).
Climate is harsh. Strong winds over 63 km per hour on 280 days a year. Very cloudy, only 660 hours of sunshine for a whole year. It rains for 300 days a year. Temperature ranges from 7-11 °C, wit little variation. And people dreamed of inhabiting these places. Yet, climate is changing, so who knows what the future brings.
I focused on New Zealand’s subantarctic islands.
I find out that the geography of Auckland islands, located south of New Zealand, are a lot like geography of my imaginary Orfada, so I get interested in history.
Apparently it has no permanent inhabitants but there was two tries in a mid-19th century for a permanent settlement. One Maori settlement lasted for 20 years on sealing and flax growing, but eventually abandoned. The other one with European origin settlers lasted for only two and a half years in a natural harbour of Port Ross. Commissioner Charles Enderby had a dream of Auckland island being a successful whaling community, but there was not enough sun for vegetables, sheep often run away and the subantartic climate made sailors desperate and willing to get drunker and drunker and getting closer to a angry mutineers then helpful crew for whaling that was also not going very well. Commisioner William Mackworth said when they departed: “The satisfaction I feel at this moment is beyond description. My miserable life at Port Ross will never be forgotten.”
Condition on Auckland island as well as on Macquarie Island was so harsh the the idea for penal settlement was abandoned. Too harsh even for criminals.
People loose interest for Macquarie Island as soon as they made penguins and seals they are hunting for fur and ladies hats, almost extinct. Similar in Campbell Island.
On Campbell island some sheep farming undergo from 1896 to 1931 but abandoned because of Great Depression.
Rocky coasts made this islands sites for several shipwrecks.
Not only the dreadful weather presented problem but an isolation and while simple minded sailors find it difficult to cope with the expeditionary scientist love it. Isolation might be a good thing for researchers.
Most of the coast-watchers from World War II, watching for enemy ships were scientist and several of them volunteered for more then a three years.
There was a legend of some mysterious lady wandering the island in solitude told by many sailors in 19th century and after. A story inspired a novel “The Lady of the Heather” by Will Lawson. Not very good one. Quite boring as I heard.
Topography names are interesting. On Campbell island French expedition in 1874 watched the transit of Venus. During that time they give astrological names of surrounding places.
Bounty islands was named in 1788 after famous ship HMS Bounty only few months before mutiny. They just passed by islands never even step a foot on it.
They named Antipodes Islands because they are antipode, or directly opposite place on a globe to London.
But what is mystical about this places catches the imagination of tourist also. There are regular tours on subantartic island from 1992. And I will like to one. Why not?
There is something magical in it when nature does not allow people to settle in one place.


Written by Marko Jevtić

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