It’s the principal town in the area settled by Welsh immigrants in 1865, They were escaping an economic depression and religious persecution at home and were hoping to set up ideal religious communities in the hostile landscape of the Patagonian steppes.
Their early years here were pretty hard by all accounts and they would have starved if they hadn’t been saved by the local Indians who gave them food.
The name of the town is pronounced tre-ley-ooh in Spanish, the ‘tre’ part meaning ‘town’ in Welsh and ‘lew’ being short for Lewis Jones, its founding father.
Nowadays there isn’t that much evidence of the town’s Welsh heritage. To experience that you’d be better off hopping on the bus to neighbouring Gaiman (see my Gaiman post).
I’m not really a believer in paying a tour operator a large chunk of cash to go and harass some local wildlife but I do regret not jumping on the bus to Porto Madryn, as a friend did, to sit on the cliff tops and watch the whales in the bay. Or maybe see the odd Orca intentionally beaching themselves to snack on a seal as they do in the documentaries.
It was a long bus ride there though and I needed to take it easy in preparation for a full day’s work the following morning. Damn job gets in the way all the time.
However I did make it to the Museo Palenontologico at Fontana 140 (entrance $140 for foreigners in 2014), which is famous for its dinosaur exhibition, thanks to the rich fossil deposits near Gaiman.
Particularly impressive is the large skeleton of a Titanosaurus in the front entrance which I think is the largest carnivorous dinosaur ever found in South America.
As usual, please click on any these photos for a better view.
It’s also a natural history museum and there were a few, more recent skeletons. I’m guessing these were a dolphin and a seal.
It’s a modern museum and all the exhibits are well presented. It would have been nice to have a few more of the explanatory texts in English, but there were a few.
I timed my visit well as the strong gale that arrived out of nowhere, just as I entered the museum, had blown itself out when I emerged into the sunshine again two hours later. The Patagonian weather is notoriously changeable but it seems these mini storms blow themselves out pretty quickly. It’s best to come prepared though, especially if you do decide to go on a boat trip.
The only other thing I saw that was of interest was this huge political mural called ‘El Transporte‘ by Ramon Cura, on the corner of Fontana and Gales.
Other than these activities, there’s very little to see or do in Trelew itself. In terms of architecture there are a couple of pieces of unloved Art Deco along Avenida Fontana but the nicest thing for me was the old bandstand in Plaza Independencia and the colonial architecture of the Spanish theatre that faces it.