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The Early Days

A long beach, sand stretching as far as the eye can see, the wind blowing relentlessly from the sea, the sky blue and no sign at all that anyone has ever been here before. No signs of civilization. The goods and few possessions of the settlers had to be unloaded from the deck of the ship into the shelter of the bay.

It is said that the first settlers sheltered in the caves that are on the southern edge of the bay before deciding to begin the long journey towards the Valley following the River Chupat in the native language or Chubut as it is known today, the Camry in Welsh. To people who had spent two months aboard a ship, the trek was heart-breaking: there was a shortage of food and the supply of water was quickly disappearing. The men were tired and it was agreed that another ship the Mary Helen would carry half of the women and children – but because of a terrible storm, this was not as simple as it sounded. The men too faced danger in the form of attacks by wild animals or the natives of the region the Tehuelches, the native people of Patagonia. At last, they reached Caer Antur, an old fortification, where it was possible to shelter. The town of Rawson now stands there in memory of Guillermo Rawson, then the Argentine Minister for the Interior.

Beginning To Make The Dream Come True

Everyone began to work to establish a community that would be able to flourish: simple homes and stores were built, crops were planted, school classes and chapel services were begun and a council was formed in order to share out the land and ensure that there was an order to life. But it was not exactly like the dream they had been sold back in Wales: the first group of emigrants had arrived in the middle of the South American winter, the crops in the following year 1866 failed and the stores of food were disappearing. In July 1866 two tribes of native Indians, Tehuelches., arrived and taught the Welsh many of their farming skills at the start of a relationship that was to be peaceful and productive.