The first victory

The isolation the Cocos Islands is both a blessing and a curse. Marooned two thousand kilometres from the Western Australian coast and nine hundred kilometres from Christmas Island, it costs $17 for two litres of fresh milk and women have to relocate the mainland for even routine childbirth. But alongside this comes island quirks like a golf course stretched across an international runway, a functioning ‘I-O-U’ system for goods in town and a hire-car company imploring drivers to leave the keys in the car at all times so they don’t get lost.

In November 1914, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands played host to Australia’s ‘first victory’ of World War I – the battle of the HMAS Sydney and the SMS Emden. A hundred years after the fact, the descendents of the sailors who fought returned to share in a legacy of valour and compassion, often overlooked in this remote tropical ‘paradise’.

In a beautiful multimedia essay, journalist and writer BEN STUBBS combines images and words to convey the experience of this remote anniversary.