"Antarctica - the BIG Ice" Top 5 Page for this destination Antarctica by tiabunna
Antarctica Travel Guide: 1,173 reviews and 2,746 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!
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.
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: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"
For those of you with broadband, here’s something for you to do right now. My very good VT friend Trekki has flagged to... more travel advice
If your ship has provision for excursions in the Antarctic, it is almost certain that you will be making them in a... more travel advice
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- Skiing in Antarctica
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