The Spirit of Mawson - Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013 - 2014

Australasian Antarctic Expedition

Author: Chris Turney

Sunset at Casey

Day 37 – Leaving the Antarctic Base Casey for Hobart: We are heading home!

Posted by Chris Turney, January 15, 2014

The last few days we have been staying on the icebreaker Aurora australis just off the the Antarctic coast near the Australian base of Casey. For the operations team on the vessel, it has been a busy time, resupplying the station, bringing gear and waste offshore, balancing logistical needs against the ever changing weather. For […]


Day 25 – On board the wonderful Australian icebreaker Aurora australis

Posted by Chris Turney, January 3, 2014

After the first decent night’s sleep in a fortnight, the team are starting to familarise themselves with their new home, on board the Australian icebreaker Aurora australis, a remarkable red giant that stands proud in the heavy pack ice. It has been an intense last 24 hours. Yesterday we woke to brilliant sunshine and calm […]

Change in sea ice - 29/12

Day 23 – One week on

Posted by Chris Turney, December 30, 2013

It has been a sobering week. At the time we were initially caught by the sea ice, the Shokalskiy was just 2 to 4 nautical miles from open water. Now the sea ice distance has become even greater with the continued winds from the east, putting our nearest point of exit at some 16 nautical miles. The […]


Day 19 – The AAE has met heavy ice

Posted by Chris Turney, December 26, 2013

Following our successful visit to Cape Denison, sea ice remained clear, allowing our science expedition to proceed to the Mertz Glacier and open water polynya on the other side of Commonwealth Bay. Good conditions allowed the team to reach the Hodgeman Islets to continue our science programme and make comparisons to our findings around Mawson’s […]

Arrival at Mawson's Huts

Day 14 – Return to Mawson’s Hut… One Hundred Years On

Posted by Chris Turney, December 21, 2013

We’ve had an exhilarating couple of days and I’m just taking stock of all that has taken place. The last time I wrote was in the early hours of the 19th making final preparations for our attempt to reach Cape Denison. During the previous day, we had arrived in Commonwealth Bay and secured the Shokalskiy […]

Shokalskiy on ice

Day 11 – Exploring the sea ice edge

Posted by Chris Turney, December 18, 2013

Apologies for the short blog entry. The last 24 hours have been frantically busy. We have managed to get the team on the ice and started work exploring our environment and making scientific observations. Tracey has led her team to collect biopsy samples of Weddell Seas to get a better handle on diet for comparison […]

Travelling through the sea ice

Days 10 – We’ve reached Antarctica!

Posted by Chris Turney, December 17, 2013

After a fraught morning ploughing our way through the sea ice, the Shokalskiy finally broke into a huge area of open water. The contrast couldn’t have been more different. Over the past few days we have become surprisingly comfortable with crashing and shaking our way through sea ice. Now there is only the gentle throb […]

Sea Ice Map 16 Dec

Day 9 – Southward ho!

Posted by Chris Turney, December 16, 2013

It is a fascinating experience going through the same decision making process as the expedition of 100 years ago. What Mawson’s captain Davis achieved with so little is extraordinary. Using just observations from their vessel the Aurora, the original AAE explored thousands of kilometres of ocean, much of it by working their way through the […]

Approaching fast ice

Day 8 – Going with the floe

Posted by Chris Turney, December 15, 2013

Punching your way through sea ice is a bit like being in a bombardment. One moment all is calm, the next silence is shattered by a crushing, grinding sound which reverberates throughout the ship. The duration of this assault on the senses can be fleeting or sustained, depending on the ice being negotiated by the […]

Snow petrel

Day 7 – First ice

Posted by Chris Turney, December 14, 2013

Today I experienced an entirely sensation: travelling through sea ice. I don’t think anything can really prepare you for the magnificence of the experience. After days of rolling on the high seas, we have entered a world of absolute silence and calm. The chaotic high seas have been replaced by tranquil, millpond conditions. Flat, low […]