To the south of the Land of Fire, on the eastern side of Navarino Island, lies a series of three islands, Picton, Nueva, and Lennox, which are part of the Chilean Antarctica province. At the end of the 19th century, when the area was inhabited by the native Yagan tribes, the Chilean government approved a series of concessions in order to exploit coal and gold resources, and encourage raising livestock. Picton was given to Thomas Bridges, an Englishman who founded the city Ushuaia. Nueva was given to Ante Miličić from Brač, and Lennox to Stipe Lončarić. At the time, Ivo Borić was also looking for gold in Lennox, which is why one of the streams there was named Arroyo Boric. Borić was one of 500 Croatian who, over a period of 26 days, in the period between December 1891 and February 1892, found a total of 115kg of gold. In two years, from 1891 to 1893, in Picton, Nueva, Lennox, and Navarino, a total of 1,500kg of gold was found.[1] News of rich gold deposits quickly spread, and was one of the main reasons for the arrival of Dalmatians to the south of Chile.


To go along with this, the Chilean government gave out special privileges to anyone willing to go live in the area. Whoever registered as a colonist in the area was given land at a very cheap price, materials to build a house, and cattle, with a three year grace period for payment. In 1884, the government printed fliers which, aside from the benefits, listed the advantages of living in Patagonia. Aside from gold and coal, they pointed out that there were no epidemics in the area, and that the outstanding climate was very suitable for growing vegetables. This last note was aggrandized, as even Darwin, while passing through the area, had asked ‘how is it possible that anyone could give up the northern lands for such an inhospitable area?[2] The winters there are long and cold, the summers short, and the wind never stops blowing. And yet, over a period of 30 years, from 1875 to 1907, the population of the Magallanes had increased 15 fold. Two thirds of the new arrivals were from Chile, while the remaining third was made up of foreigners, some 30% of whom were Croatian. History would show that Croatian children were the greatest gift to their new homeland, as a large number of them would grow to become successful and educated people.[3]


Many years later, thanks to the efforts of Mateo Martinić Beroš, the Croatian Home from Punta Arenas, whose president at the time was Andro Kukolj, erected a monument and copper memorial plate on Lennox Island, in Lennox bay. This was in 1978, to mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Croatian colonists to Magallanes; Petar Zambelić and the Paravić brothers. In memory of all of those who had, in those harsh conditions, managed to make a living for themselves, it reads as follows;









1878 - DEC 6th, 1978


I had the special privilege to place flowers on that monument in 2015, on the 100th anniversary of the Croatian Home from Punta Arenas. I laid them on behalf of the Croatian Home, the Honourary Consulate of the Republic of Croatia, Consul Rudi Mijač, and the Croatian Heritage foundation. With permission from Admiral Felipe Garcia Hudobro, I was transported to Lennox aboard the battleship Alacalufe. I shared this emotional moment with the naval commander of Beagle, naval governor Patricia Espinoza Sapunar, from Puerto Williams.



Isla Lenox con Gobernador Maritimo Patricio Espinoza Sapunar


Branka Bezić Filipović and Patricio Espinoza Sapunar, in the wind and rain, next to the Croatian monument. The pictures below show Lennox bay, where the monument is located. These days, a single naval officer lives in the bay with his family, and it is his job to monitor naval traffic in the area.










[1] Fugellie, Sivlestre. 2004.  Pioneras de la Patagonia. La Prensa Austral. Punta Arenas. Pg. 36.

[2] Nuno, Sergio. 2003. Grandes exploradores, Darwin Expediciones en Chile. Edebe. Punta Arenas. Pg. 35.

[3] Beroš, Mateo Martinić. 2002. Breve historia de Magallanes. La Prensa Austral. Punta Arenas. Pg. 74 – 75.