From Cairns to the sub Antarctic

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This week at Macquarie Island: 7 June 2013

Let’s just say that when it drops to 26°C up in Cairns, I would usually be wearing my trackies and ugg boots, I'd be sleeping under two doonas and I’d curse any further lowering of the temperature! One of my biggest fears in life has been the cold.

I’ve always wanted to go down to Antarctica, ever since I was very young. I must admit I’ve lacked knowledge on the historical side. My interest in and what’s really drawn me to Antarctica has been the magnificent wildlife and the extremely unrelenting habitat.

Five years ago I sat in a doctor’s office, I was reading through a National Geographic magazine when I came upon a story about Macquarie Island I was captivated. There was one particular picture that I couldn’t stop looking at, it was a beach covered with elephant seals, with this brilliantly orange and purple sky as back drop, a spectacular site. I turned to my mother and said “one day I’m going to insert myself into that picture, I don’t know when or how".

I’ve seen many sunsets with amazingly stunning colours in this majestic place and my goal is to find one as close to that picture so I can slot myself into that beautiful image.

It’s only now that I am here, experiencing the unwielding elements, that I’ve realised the immensity of human endurance that has taken place in Antarctic history and I'm keenly learning about it all.

I came down to Macquarie Island as a dog handler. Unfortunately I hurt myself, which stopped me from finishing my training and getting out into the field. Finally on Sunday the 26th of May I set out to finish my field training, accompanied by Marty (FTO) and Steve (MIPEP Team leader) along with their vast experience and great knowledge.

I will let the pictures tell the story, but let me say that for someone who has never seen real snow I was given an amazingly beautiful gift, left speechless by the stupefyingly beautiful scenery. My endurance was tested with some ruthless weather on the second day, deteriorating slightly off blizzard conditions.

P.S I am no longer afraid of the cold.

Patty wearing her yellow jacket and beanie looking down at Joker the dog who is a Springer spaniel  looking up at Patty
Patty and her Partner in crime Joker

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Patty and Joker the dog  looking out to the Horizon
Perfect Team

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Hass house the court yard and the walking path covered in snow. The sun is rising
I awoke to everything covered in white for my first day of...

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Looking south from the courtyard at the mountains covered in snow at dawn there is a light on the building illuminating.
Fresh morning with snow on the mountain

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Patty dressed for the snow wearing a yellow jacket with her pack on holding both her poles standing in snow by the ocean with the mountain hillside.
Ready

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Ocean view with the hill covered in snow and North head in the distance
Spectacular and it’s only the beginning

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Gadgets creek covered in snow with the ocean in the background
Gadgets

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Marty, Steve and Flax the dog who is a golden Labrador retriever climbing up gadgets creek covered in snow with the ocean in the background
Marty, Steve and Flax

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Looking up gadgets creek there are some ladders secured down that we have to climb
Keep on climbing

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Flax the dog who is a golden Labrador retriever sitting on a cliff with the mountain range covered in snow and ocean behind him
Flax out on a limb

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Looking down Gadgets creek covered in snow with the ocean in the distance and a stormy cloud over the water
Top of Gadgets

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Mountains covered in snow blue sky with white fluffy clouds
Magnificent

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Patty dressed for the snow wearing a yellow jacket with her pack on holding both her poles standing with the snow covered mountain range behind her
Patty

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

A photo of the mountain range with snow and blue sky with fluffy clouds
Stunning

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Marty, Steve and Flax the dog who is a golden Labrador retriever dressed for the snow wearing their pack’s with holding their poles standing  looking down at the feather bed  along the coast line and the mountain range.
What a view

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Mountain range and the ocean on the right a pointing pole
Another spectacular view

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Steve dressed for the snow wearing his yellow jacket and goggles and Flax the dog who is a golden Labrador retriever with the snow covered mountain range behind him
Steve and Flax

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Marty facing east dressed for the snow with his hood over his head wearing his pack and holding his pole with the mountain range and ocean fluffy clouds and blues sky.
Marty

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Marty, Steve and Flax the dog who is a golden Labrador retriever dressed for the snow wearing their pack’s with holding their poles standing in the snow with a snow cloud coming towards them
Snow’s up boys

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Marty in the distance walking down to Bauer bay
Heading down to Bauer bay

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Marty and Steve in the distance walking up the beach at Bauer Bay
Bauer Bay

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Bauer Bay Hut
Bauer Bay Hut

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Patty putting on her gear on the snow covered porch of Bauer Bay hut her pack on the ground and her gloves in her hand
Next Chilly Morning

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Patty putting on her gear on the snow covered porch of Bauer Bay hut her pack on the ground and her gloves in her hand
Next Chilly Morning

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

The boys in the distance walking though snow covered hills it’s snowing the ocean is in the distance
Cold

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Patty and Marty wearing their snow gear standing on the feather bed
Icy Feather bed

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Patty and Marty wearing their snow gear standing on the feather bed
Getting colder

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Steve wearing his snow gear walking with Flax the dog who is a golden Labrador retriever through the snow in the background you have snow covered mountain range
Steve and Flax – My favourite Photo

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Marty and Steve stopping for a brake at Prion Lake that is surrounded by snow covered hills
Prion Lake stop

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Steve laying on his bed wearing his head torch reading a book
Steve reading at Brothers Point

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Marty wearing his head torch at the kitchen cooking
Marty the cook

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Patty holding a kettle at the kitchen wearing a scarf that goes to her chin making tea
Patty dressed as Papa smurf making tea

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Paty standing outside of Brothers Point Googy accommodation wearing her gear holding her piles
Brothers Point Googy accommodation

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Brothers Point Googy and ocean views
Brothers Point ocean view

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Picture of Sandy Bay and the walking track
Sandy Bay

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

A head of a dead Royal penguin in the sand
Royal penguin

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Flax the dog who is a golden Labrador retriever
Flax

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Patty standing next to penguin colony at Sandy Bay
Sandy Bay

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Old Sandy Bay hut and Penguin colony
Old Sandy Bay hut and Penguin colony

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Patty crouching down near  the old Sandy Bay hut and Penguin colony
Penguin Colony

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

We saw from a great distance this Fur seal sitting on the top of a rock stack chilling out.
We saw from a great distance this Fur seal sitting on the...

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Elephant seals laying next each other on the beach
Eli Seals

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Two crosses marking the gravesite at nuggets beach
Anderson and Bauer’s grave sites at The Nuggets

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Patty Standing next to the penguin digesters
Digesters

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Marty and Steve making their way up Nuggets Creek
Nuggets Creek

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

Patty standing  y the ocean with north head in the background
Almost home

(Photo: Patty Villegas)

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This page was last modified on 7 June 2013.