Day 1: Departure

People waving from the wharf as the Aurora prepares to depart
Bon Voyage Aurora Australis departs Hobart, 2005 (Photo: Warwick Barnes)
People looking at the ship docked at the wharfGroup of expeditioners on deck waving goodbye

Day one (20 February 2005) of our voyage starts on land – in a lecture theatre. The Director of the Australian Antarctic Division welcomes us and introduces us to, “the most important person in the room” – the Voyage Leader. We are leaving today on “Voyage 5” from Hobart to Mawson station, Casey station, Macquarie Island station, and back to Hobart. It’s a six week trip, and for some it’s very familiar territory. For many of us though, it's a trip into the complete unknown.

One theme dominates all others at our lectures on day one … safety.

We’re left in no doubt that although everything should be fine, the Southern Ocean can be dangerous.

After the lectures there are a few hours spare … It is a good chance for some of us to spend a little more time with our families before it’s time to say goodbye. Some expeditioners are away for six weeks, others will be staying on Macquarie Island, and will be away for a year. It’s quite an emotional time for many at the wharf, as we wave goodbye and sail off into a perfect Hobart sunset.