"Antarctica - the BIG Ice" Top 5 Page for this destination Antarctica by tiabunna

Antarctica Travel Guide: 1,167 reviews and 2,706 photos

Antarctica! Because of the magic of mass communications and the internet, it's somewhat better known now than when I worked for a year with the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) at Mawson Station in 1966. In those days, the reaction from most people was "why would you want to go there, it's just cold and white?" . In December 2005, when I returned with my wife so that she could find out if all my stories were even vaguely accurate :) , most friends were not only interested but very envious. Times do indeed change!

Our ship and trip

We travelled with Aurora Expeditions, on their inaugural voyage to 'Mawson's Antarctica' using the 'Marina Svetaeva', a 4575 tonne Russian ice ship built in Poland in 1989. The ship, as promised, proved 'comfortable and homely', rather than luxurious: think of a good two star hotel. But everything else was at least four star: most importantly, the expedition had excellent leaders, staff and guest lecturers. It also was equipped with a fleet of zodiacs and two helicopters.

The route took us from Hobart, Australia across the Southern Ocean to Macquarie Island (Australia); Commonwealth Bay (site of Mawson's Hut); the South Magnetic Pole; the French base at Dumont d'Urville; Cape Jules; the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands (New Zealand) and Snares Islands (New Zealand); finally returning to Bluff in New Zealand. Overall, the trip lasted 25 days.

For me, the highlight of the trip was visiting Mawson's hut. For my wife, it was the novelty of walking on thick sea ice.

As I said earlier, times have changed since my first trip: Mawson and the other Australian stations have since been extensively rebuilt and can be seen on the Australian Antarctic Division website. But the Antarctic remains the same: still challenging, always fascinating, usually spectacular.

So, were my recollections from way back even vaguely accurate? A little hard to say, because we had little but good weather for our trip and, because it was in summer, we did not experience the winter cold. But, from time to time, the katabatic winds still roared down from the plateau, just as they did at Mawson Station in 1966, and as they did for Mawson's Australian Antarctic Expedition in 1911-1913 at Commonwealth Bay "The Home of the Blizzard". And the Southern Ocean still unsettled a few people.

Some internet links for more information.

A few links:

Read about Australia's greatest Antarctic explorer and his epic experiences with the Australian Antarctic Expedition 1911-1913 here: Sir Douglas Mawson

Aurora Expeditions' website is here: Aurora Expeditions

The Australian Antarctic Division website, for information about Australia's current Antarctic activities is here: AAD

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:What a place! Pristine, magnificent, uncompromising.
  • Cons:Access is neither inexpensive nor easy - maybe as well!
  • In a nutshell:As the OIC of the French base said, after being there most people succumb to "Le virus Antarctique"
  • Last visit to Antarctica: Dec 2005
  • Intro Updated Jun 10, 2006
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Reviews (54)

Comments (91)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Oct 12, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    Hello, George! Thanks a lot for describing your experiences and memories!)

  • XenoHumph's Profile Photo
    Jan 22, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Awesome page! I particularly enjoyed reading about your 66 experience!

    • tiabunna's Profile Photo
      Jan 28, 2013 at 2:23 AM

      Thank you very much. As I commented on your Antarctic page, some things change but Antarctica (the place) doesn't.

  • ettiewyn's Profile Photo
    Dec 8, 2012 at 1:53 AM

    Hi George, fascinating stories about your "ancient" trip to Antarctica and the more recent one with your wife. I really enjoyed reading about it, and looking at your spectacular photos. What a unique page!

  • kiwi's Profile Photo
    Aug 19, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    I love looking at your old Antarctic photos, and they look great on the new format. Did you read that the whiskey they found down there was made with water from Loch Ness :-))

  • xaver's Profile Photo
    Oct 27, 2010 at 11:40 PM

    Thanks, this is definitly one of my dream trips.

  • DennyP's Profile Photo
    Aug 27, 2009 at 4:30 AM

    HI George...great page with wonderfully detailed informative tips with great pics also...must return to this page mate .just so much to digest..and yes tis is a destination for me..cheers Denny

  • junecorlett's Profile Photo
    Apr 22, 2009 at 1:46 AM

    My husband would love to do this trip, well written tips, we have seen the "March with penguins" doccie. very intersting, even sad.

  • Arkeolog's Profile Photo
    Apr 15, 2009 at 6:34 AM

    your photos are great, tips are useful and page is excellent. That chocolate rock looks interesting.

  • uglyscot's Profile Photo
    Mar 24, 2009 at 3:40 AM

    Fascinating site and marvellous pictures . I now know where to go when sweltering in a Sudanese summer- your antarctic page on VT! Virtual cooling! Adding Coleridge was genius.

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Jan 28, 2009 at 4:20 PM

    AMAZING page & tips on Antartica. I will re-visit as the tips are extensive, andI want to absorb more. Thank Heaven that giant penguin is extinct!Imagine that walking around now!!Beaut pics too

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