The Spirit of Mawson - Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013 - 2014

Australasian Antarctic Expedition

Category: Leg Two

Dreaming of warmer times

Welcome aboard Robbie and Cara

Posted by Robbie - 5 December 2013

Hi, I’m Robert Turney and I’ll be going on the A.A.E expedition to Antarctica for 2013. At twelve years old, I will be the youngest on the expedition and every day, on the boat and ice, I will be giving you a kid’s view of the expedition. We are only 6 days away from leaving […]

Departing Bluff

Day 1 – We’re off to Antarctica

Posted by Chris - 8 December 2013

I’m used to turning things round quickly but reprovisioning a ship and rotating an expedition in one day is not something I would recommend. There really is only one word for it: madness. We arrived in Bluff on the morning of the 7th December. The Sun was breaking through the clouds and southern New Zealand […]


Day 1 – Heading off from Bluff

Posted by Colin - 8 December 2013

The second leg of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013 – 2014 left the picturesque port of Bluff with its full complement of adventurers, scientists, students and staff on the 8th of December 2013. We were quickly made aware of ship life by a safety drill as all filled into our assigned lifeboats like fluoro orange sardines […]

Leaving Bluff - photograph & processing by Cara

Day 2 – Seasickness and scrabble

Posted by Robbie - 9 December 2013

Leaving Bluff – photograph & processing by Cara We’ve been on the boat for nearly twenty four hours now. I have already recovered from being ill and am now spending my time playing Scrabble and going to small lectures in the auditorium. This ship is surprisingly nice, when my Dad showed me images I thought […]

Day 2 – Symptoms, Diagnosis, Cure

Posted by Taylor - 9 December 2013

We’re well on our way to Macquarie island and no time is spared – the only thing remotely reminiscent of Mawson’s woes of the high seas are the Nor’Easterly swells that batter the boat. Rolling the occupants like we’re on the pirate ship ride at the easter show. The powerful waves tower over the boat […]

Lab discussions - photographed and processed by Cara

Day 3 – Russian announcements

Posted by Robbie - 10 December 2013

Lab discussions – photographed and processed by Cara It’s early in the morning. My eyelids are sagging and my legs are aching. But somehow, there is nowhere that I’d rather be than on this boat. The rocking of the ship is actually soothing for me, yet isn’t for others onboard. It’s a lot worse than […]

Nicole DeLosa Lecture

Day 3 – A start to the science

Posted by Patrick - 10 December 2013

Nicole DeLosa Today the seas were significantly rougher than the last few days. It’s not uncommon to be looking out of the window and watch the grey sky be replaced by the darker frothing peaks of waves breaking against the side of the ship. Whilst I would not consider myself as someone who gets seasick, […]

Vacuuming gear

Day 3 – Beating a path to Macquarie

Posted by Chris - 10 December 2013

On the 2 December 1911, the residents of the island state of Tasmania turned out in droves to farewell the heavily laden Aurora when it headed south from Hobart. Sir Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition was off. It had been an extraordinary year. Mawson had somehow managed to raise the necessary funds; appoint a team of scientists, […]

Macquarie Island

Day 4 – Macquarie Island

Posted by Robbie - 11 December 2013

Macca – photographed & processed by Cara The boat has been dancing a jig all night. Sleep and patience are lowering in unison. But me, well I’m pretty sure my appearance both verbally and physically have stayed the same. Although my memory might need to be improved. Most of the other passengers read my first […]

Macquarie Island

Day 4 – Bobbing like a cork

Posted by Chris - 11 December 2013

Discovered in 1810, Macquarie Island suffered its first shipwreck three years later and hasn’t really let up. It is not hard to imagine why. The Caroline, Nelson, Eagle and Endeavour are just a handful of craft that have ended their days here. The only way in is by sea but steep cliffs, shallow waters, wild winds and frequently heavy surf combine […]

Macquarie Island Penguins

Day 4 – Macquarie Island wildlife

Posted by Nicole - 11 December 2013

We arrived at Macquarie Island around 8am to a fairly large swell, which ultimately hindered our ability to launch the zodiacs and explore the island.  As the weather shows no sign of abating for a few days, it was decided to leave for Antarctica and Commonwealth Bay early and hopefully visit the island on our […]

Day 5 – Temperature drop

Posted by Robbie - 12 December 2013

Day 5 on the boat now. The food just seems to get better and better. Three course meals; steak, chicken curries, fish. Every night Nikki and Brad pop up with more options for us to eat. Just yesterday our starter was an amazing Caesar Salad. Dessert was a creamy tiramisu. And parents I apologise if […]

Day 5 – The vastness

Posted by Naysa - 12 December 2013

I am rocked to sleep at night by the movement of the ship, sometimes a rhythmic back and forth that eases me to sleep, others a violent jerk left to right, that wakes me in the middle of my sleep. But I love it, surrounded, enveloped, and embraced by the ocean. It has accepted us […]


Day 6 – We’re officially in the Antarctic!

Posted by Chris - 13 December 2013

I’m not a lover of routine but I will say this: it breaks up the day incredibly well. Three square meals a day, interspersed with science observations, equipment checks, planning meetings and lectures means days on the ocean disappear as if they had never existed. If you’re looking for time to kill, take a cruise […]

Argo release

Day 6 – Launching buoys

Posted by Janet - 13 December 2013

We sail on, through the fog.  Our ship is a cocoon, a bubble surrounded by mist. It’s still and calm and eerily lifeless outside – appropriately mysterious for Friday 13th. I’m writing just after an excellent lunch – I’ve left the warmth of company, food and the dining room to sit outside, rugged up in […]

Ice - Photographed and developed by Cara. Fujifilm Instax 210

Day 7 – Breaking ice

Posted by Robbie - 14 December 2013

Ice – Photographed and developed by Cara. Fujifilm Instax 210 Today I woke up to the ice. I was dreaming peacefully when a loud crack rang out and jolted me awake. I quickly went to the porthole and tore open the blinds to discover pack ice all around us. I immediately got changed and headed […]

Snow petrel

Day 7 – First ice

Posted by Chris - 14 December 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 […]

Day 7 – Birthday wishes

Posted by Joanne - 14 December 2013

WOW…what a day and it is still only 2.30pm. We woke to a bump and shudder at 6.22am when we “shunted” the first piece of pack ice. We have been moving through the ice ever since and will continue to do so for most of the next couple of days. It is fantastic and very […]

Iceberg - photograph by Cara. Fujifilm Instax 210

Day 8 – Whale

Posted by Robbie - 15 December 2013

Iceberg – photograph by Cara. Fujifilm Instax 210 These ice days just keep getting better. I took an early breakfast of bacon and toast then went to the daily schedule sheet to find what today had in store for me. Standing out amongst the usual lectures about ice and wildlife, there as one truly exciting […]

Day 8 – Antarctic Ice Ice Baby…

Posted by Nikki - 15 December 2013

Wow what an incredible day on the AAE 2013/2014! This is a day that will go down in all of our memories as something truly special. It started out as all days seem to when one smashes through oceans with a 6/10 sea ice coverage – with significant thuds, whacks and shuddering of the entire […]

Approaching fast ice

Day 8 – Going with the floe

Posted by Chris - 15 December 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 […]

Sea Ice Map 16 Dec

Day 9 – Southward ho!

Posted by Chris - 16 December 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 […]

Day 9 – Astounding wildlife

Posted by Annette - 16 December 2013

After yesterday’s action-packed day on the zodiacs, today has had a more contemplative air. Snow flurries have danced past the windows and most of us have remained safely cocooned inside the ship, clutching warm drinks whilst watching the icy world drift by from the bridge. The Shokalskiy has resumed its slow trudge south, crunching and […]

Travelling through the sea ice

Days 10 – We’ve reached Antarctica!

Posted by Chris - 17 December 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 […]

Day 10 – No penguins!

Posted by Robbie - 17 December 2013

We hit Antarctica today. After a bit over a week we have got to the Driest continent on Earth. It started by seeing a vast area of icebergs. I counted 47 at one point. After an hour or two of that we came alongside the fast ice next to Commonwealth Bay. There was a huge […]

Day 10 – A feast for the eyes

Posted by Sean - 17 December 2013

The morning started a little sullen, which suited our situation as we were making headway through the last of pack ice but soon this opened up into a Coastal Polynya – this amazing expanse of water that opened up as a result of wind moving the ice away. Crowning this was stupendous sunshine, such glorious […]

Shokalskiy on ice

Day 11 – Exploring the sea ice edge

Posted by Chris - 18 December 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 […]

Emperor Penguin and Macpac

Day 11 – Hanging out in Antarctica

Posted by Cara - 18 December 2013

After zipping across the bay on the zodiac, we landed on the ice, finding ourselves surrounded by Adelie penguins jumping out from the water.   Milling around our feet, they staggered and slid like drunken ice skaters.  We set up two camps amidst the penguins; the first a replica of Mawson’s original tent and supplies, […]

Day 11 – Amazing noises

Posted by Robbie - 18 December 2013

Today we were helping with the science teams. I decided only to help during the morning as I had sprained the joint between my big toe and foot. There were few options for the science, ice coring with Erik, listening to Seals and Whales using sonar, or just mucking about on the ice. For the […]

Day 11 – Paradise in Antarctica.

Posted by Steve - 18 December 2013

On the edge of “fast” ice, about 50km from Mawsons Huts. Temperature a balmy 7.3 deg; high cloud burnt off by early afternoon, no wind. Paradise in Antarctica. The ice is now getting quite slushy – like spring snow in the Aussie ski fields. We have a stunning view of the Antarctic coastline near Commonwealth […]


Day 12 – Seal hunting

Posted by Robbie - 19 December 2013

Penguin – photograph by Cara. Fujifilm Instax 210 Today a team of scientists headed to Mawson’s Huts.They left at 5‘o’clock in the morning and arrived just before 1 in the afternoon. There was a big cheer when we heard the news of their arrival. But for the rest of the passengers, we all went Seal […]

Day 12 – A birthday in Antarctica

Posted by Ian - 19 December 2013

My birthday. I am 73 today on the Antarctic icecap. We are pulled up to the fast ice in the entrance of Commonwealth Bay just a little north of the huge iceberg B09B still blocking the entrance. Today the recce team set out, after a few problems with the Argos in the soft snow, to […]


Day 13 – Southern light

Posted by Andrew - 20 December 2013

Sleeping doesn’t come easily in the middle of an Antarctic summer as light permeates the frigid atmosphere at all hours. Yet I was fast asleep when the indefatigable Greg Mortimer knocked quietly on my cabin door at 0430. “C’mon mate” he whispered, the Mawson’s Hut crew are arriving back soon and the light outside is […]

Day 14 – A trip into Mawson’s hut

Posted by Estelle - 21 December 2013

What an amazing 24 hours. I was privileged to obtain a place on the second and final trip into Mawson’s Hut – an approximately 60 km trip by Argo across fast ice to Commonwealth Bay. We set out about 8am NZ time (5am Australian Eastern Standard Time) on a still, crisp, minus six degrees Celsius […]

Arrival at Mawson's Huts

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

Posted by Chris - 21 December 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 […]

Day 14 – A Christmas Tree

Posted by Elizabeth - 21 December 2013

Today dawned bright and clear. We are sitting at the fast ice edge with Adelies lining the edge near the ship. The sea is covered in sheets of translucent ice that have formed overnight in between the various ice floes that lie scattered about. The horizon is lined with large bergs that look for all […]

Day 15 – Summer solstice

Posted by Peter & Judy - 22 December 2013

It might be a gloomy day outside and a day on board, however expedition life continues. In this part of the world the actual summer solstice was in the early hours of today. It went quietly given the cloudy conditions; unlike recent days when in beautiful conditions some took in the early hour’s sunset and […]

Day 16 – A rare opportunity

Posted by Ben - 23 December 2013

It’s pretty rare, but sometimes in life you get given a chance, an opportunity that won’t come around again. I’d suggest that these types of opportunities are often going to involve letting go of something, and taking a risk.  I’d also suggest that these types of opportunities may have few guarantees and hold the possibility […]

Day 16 – A day in the Argos

Posted by Robbie - 23 December 2013

Today was absolutely stunning. This was the day we got a full on drive in the Argos, along the fast ice and straight to the continent. It was very enjoyable, possibly the most fun I’ve ever had outdoors before. The ride was really bumpy and we were going up and down getting some jumps when […]

Day 17 – Christmas Eve

Posted by Graeme - 24 December 2013

It’s often said that Antarctica is a dynamic environment that can rapidly transform at a moments notice. Today we experienced that first-hand, as we came down from a high of exceptionally good weather to find ourselves surrounded by thick, impassable pack ice. Too dense to travel through, the sea-ice has stopped the mighty Shokalskiy in […]

Day 18 – Christmas day, ice bound

Posted by Robbie - 25 December 2013

Today flew right past me. I know it was hours but it felt like seconds. I kicked my day off by waking up at 6:45 and lying in bed watching Big Bang Theory on my Ipad. That felt slightly longer as I was itching to run up to my parents room and tear open some […]

Day 18 – Christmas onboard

Posted by Carol - 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas to all and 2014 bring peace, health and happiness to the world If we were dreaming of a white Christmas our dream came true this morning, it was white, white, white, like a gigantic pavlova, breathtakingly beautiful. The wind is strong about 40-50 knots  with an occasional curious and  brave penguin sliding around […]


Day 19 – The AAE has met heavy ice

Posted by Chris - 26 December 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 […]

Day 19 – Marine biology

Posted by Alicia - 26 December 2013

First of all, I can’t but help to say that we are all very well, better than it is thought out there. Yesterday morning we were told that, in order to get out from here, help was required. Although we had spent at least one day stuck in the ice, the news prompted a bit […]

Day 20 – Clearing blizzard

Posted by Estelle - 27 December 2013

A trip to Antarctica is a story of patience. Waiting for the weather to improve, waiting for the whales and seals to appear, waiting for the right conditions to undertake research, and now waiting for an icebreaker to assist our passage out of the pack ice.  In spite of our captain’s magnificent efforts, we’ve been […]

Day 20 – Snow Dragon approaching

Posted by Robbie - 27 December 2013

Today we heard news of our helper-outerers. The Snow Dragon or Xue Long is due to arrive in a couple of hours. I’m pretty sure they’re sending choppers to assess our situation. It’ll be good because it will be the first sign of civilisation outside of this ship. The French ship is meant to arrive […]


Day 21 – Bad news from Snow Dragon

Posted by Robbie - 28 December 2013

We heard some bad news today. The Chinese ship Snow Dragon can’t get to us on it’s own so we’re going to be here for another couple of days while we wait for L’astrolabe and the Aurora Australis get here. Once all three are here they will be able to work together to cut a […]

Day 21 – A great crew

Posted by Ziggy - 28 December 2013

Hi all. I have never written a blog before and I really don’t know what they are supposed to be about, so I’m just going to write about whatever comes to mind at this very moment – the only thing I can guarantee is that most of it will make no sense. I though it […]

Day 22 – Ice slides & igloos

Posted by Robbie - 29 December 2013

Today was one of sleeping in. I was asleep until 9:30 depriving me of breakfast. And readers if you were on the ship you would realise how annoying that is. Although I did make it to the briefing on time, there they revealed some very interesting news. If the Aurora Australis and Snow Dragon can’t […]

Day 22 – An Antarctic birthday

Posted by Mary - 29 December 2013

What a wonderful day! Visiting Antarctica had been my long-held dream and not only am I actually here, but I’m celebrating my birthday in this wonderland of snow and ice. I try each day but cannot adequately capture in my journal the colours, sounds, sights and scenes of this beautiful, mysterious and serene land and […]

Change in sea ice - 29/12

Day 23 – One week on

Posted by Chris - 30 December 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 […]

NYE salsa. Photo by Cara Turney. Fujifilm Instax 210

Day 24 – New year’s eve

Posted by Robbie - 31 December 2013

NYE salsa. Photo by Cara Turney. Fujifilm Instax 210 I woke up late today. I completely missed breakfast and the daily briefing. When the others got out of said briefing I asked them what the news was. Turned out that there was a roughly 70% chance that tomorrow the helicopter from the Snow Dragon will […]


Day 25 – On board the wonderful Australian icebreaker Aurora australis

Posted by Chris - 3 January 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 […]

Sunset at Casey

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

Posted by Chris - 15 January 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 […]