King of the Cocos Islands

The King of the Cocos Islands came from Shetland!

John Clunies-Ross (1786 – 1854) was a merchant.  In 1813, while he was in Timor (slight left off the top of Darwin and opposite Papua New Guinea), he was offered the chance to captain another ship.  Apparently he cruised around the uninhabited Cocos Islands, surveyed them, nailed up a Union Jack, went back to Shetland for his family and moved in two years later (7,220 miles as the crow flies from island to island. 

There are different versions of this story.  Still, whatever it is, it is fascinating and since then, I have wanted to see the Clunies-Ross home in Shetland for myself.

Today, we had had enough of horses and ponies, so once all chores were done, Daisy and I set off to find the house.

It was a wonderful site with some superb trees all bending the same way – the predominant wind direction.  Shetland trees do that.

A small settlement with many old buildings around a small bay – a fishing station (böds) for landing, drying and curing fish.

The Clunies-Ross were an eminent merchant family who lived at The Haa of Sound – a large two-storey house – just behind the bay.

Some of the buildings attached to the house included a laundry, barn and even a public house.

Next door was an old chapel and graveyard (more on that tomorrow).

We wandered about taking photos. We were the only ones there and the atmosphere was very special.


Apologies if there are any duplicated photos. I have got in a muddle and I am using both Daisy and my photos and I don’t know whose took what!

Anywho, that was a lovely afternoon doing something completely different.  More tomorrow.

And apparently the Clunies-Ross family are still on their islands in the sun – I wonder if they ever come back to Shetland to visit their ancestral home?

Clunies-Ross Family – Wikipedia article




7 thoughts on “King of the Cocos Islands

  1. Mary Clarke

    How interesting, I always follow your blog. In recent times it has been the highlight of my day. I keep Welsh mountain ponies so know exactly what you are talking about.

  2. darby callahan

    so interesting. and the photos are great no matter who took them. life cant be all ponies and sheeple, at least some of the time!

  3. diane in northern wis

    Thanks for such an interesting story….I read about the family on the wikipedia link you provided….I love all the pictures you took…..I could just picture the family bustling around that house and grounds. I love things historical….can’t wait to see and hear more about it tomorrow. Thanks you two, for being so adventurous!

  4. Christine

    Thank you for taking us along on this adventure. What a marvelous place, and extra special because you had it all to yourselves.


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