Some say it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.
In our case, getting to Antarctica was an adventure in itself. We travelled to Mawson station on the ice breaking research and resupply vessel Aurora Australis, leaving Hobart on Sunday 13th January and arriving at Mawson station (via Davis station) on Tuesday 5th February.
During the voyage we were very lucky to have mostly fine weather as the master navigated his way between two low pressure systems. We passed the time by watching movies, attending talks, quiz nights and many other social occasions. When crossing the 60th parallel we even payed homage to King Neptune which was a lot of fun.
A contest was organised for spotting the first iceberg and this was won by Julie on Saturday 19th January. From now on the journey became so much more interesting with many icebergs being seen every day. We also took turns taking a watch on the bridge logging all large icebergs we passed.
At one point we stopped to launch an acoustic blue whale recording buoy which will remain on the seabed for twelve months before being picked up on a future return voyage. For me the most exciting time was travelling through the pack ice and watching and hearing it smash up under the ship as we carefully pushed our way through.
We finally reached Davis station on Friday 25th January. It was so exciting to actually see mainland Antarctica and most of us were lucky enough to set foot on land for a look around. Then it was all hands on deck as resupply got underway. We spent eight days unloading hundreds of tonnes of food and equipment before bidding the Davis wintering crew farewell.
At Davis we took onboard all the summer crew so the ship got quite crowded and many new friends were made. The voyage from Davis station took us parallel to the coast passing through large areas of pack ice where we saw many seals, penguins and whales and of course many huge icebergs. We even took part in krill fishing, working all through the night.
The final day of the voyage, when we approached the coast heading for Mawson station, was the most spectacular as the Frames Mountains came into view. This is one very beautiful piece of coastline and it seemed to take forever as we all strained our eyes trying to spot Mawson up ahead in the distance.
Finally there it was, the most scenic station in Antarctica nestled in Horseshoe Harbour below the awesome Mt Henderson in the background. It’s home, it’s Mawson.
Personally I think it’s about the destination AND the journey.