Dear Pulteney Grammar School

Hello Ms Cox and Year 5 at Pulteney Grammar, especially Emme, Owen, Pamela, Cate, Ebony, Lily, Telopia, Jennifer and anyone else who has left a comment that I might have missed. (The people who asked questions – I’ll come to you in a moment).

Sorry I haven’t been able to reply to your questions earlier, but I am posting to this blog via email and can’t actually see the blog itself, so I can’t read the comments. Anytime I want to post photos I have to send them to my good friend Sarah and she puts them on the blog for me. On board the Aurora Australis we don’t have internet access. We can use the ship’s email system, where messages are collected on the ship’s server and then all sent together by satellite a few times a day. That means emails need to be pretty small. And it also means I only got to read your comments when I had 15 minutes on the internet at Davis Station (which does have internet access, but it’s slow and drops out if too many people are using it).

So here goes with answering your questions.

Hi Emily, yes it is absolutely thrilling to visit Antarctica. I didn’t know it would match up to my ideas about it, but it was bigger and more dramatic and more beautiful than I could have imagined. It’s pretty cold (around Davis it ranged from about minus 2 degrees C to about minus 5 degrees C), but the main thing that makes you feel cold is the wind – it’s MUCH colder if the wind is blowing hard.

You adapt quite quickly to the new temperatures and the main thing is to get your clothing sorted out so you have a comfortable number of layers. You need three good layers in general – woolen thermal pants and top next to your skin, then fleece pants and top, then a good outer layer that will keep off the wind, perhaps a down jacket or a gortex jacket and pants. People who’ve been there for winter are used to temperatures of -20C, so for them, a -5C day was quite warm! I was most looking forward to seeing the part of Antarctica named after Ingrid Christensen and imagining what she might have felt visiting there. Plus seeing the wildlife, which was amazing. Most people take heaps of photos and a lot of people who live here buy some very very good camera equipment before they come down, which is a great idea.

We have a professional wildlife photographer on board and everyone is very envious of her wonderful lifestyle, travelling round the world photographing beautiful animals. Good luck with your ambition to be a photographer.

 

Hi Tayler, I hope you’ve got some idea of what it’s like from reading my blog – in case you’re still wondering, it’s FANTASTIC! If you ever have a chance to visit and you like cold, wild places, then grab the opportunity.

I have seen lots of penguins. Around Davis there are several Adelie penguin rookeries and the penguins were finding their mates and building their stone nests when I was there. They are really cute little guys, the smallish black and white ones you would have seen in some of my photos.

Although they don’t look as dramatic as the Emperor penguins, they have lots of personality and it’s really fun to watch them. Often they run right up to you and stop and have a look and then waddle off again when they’re done. Sometimes they seem to get lost – you find them a long way from the sea and the other penguins – and then they run after you and you really want to pick them up and take them back. But there are very strict rules about leaving penguins alone, so you can’t go closer than 5 metres to them. If you sit down they might come closer to you and that’s OK because it’s their choice.

There isn’t an emperor penguin colony near Davis but small groups of them sometimes come close to the station and I was lucky enough to be driving out to the ship when a small group was walking by, so I could hop out and sit down and they came right up to me. They are really big – about as tall as an adult human’s hips – and very pretty.

 

 

Hi Yiani, I’m doing really well out here thanks. The people at Davis were very generous in making sure I got the most out of my six days there so I had a three day field trip and a helicopter ride and walks across the sea ice to the islands near the station.

I saw Adelie and emperor penguins, seals with pups, snow petrels (little white birds), skuas (big brown birds that eat everything), amazing icebergs, some historic landing sites, and very interesting people.

 

 

Hello Jennifer, thanks for your compliment about the blog, I’m really glad you’re enjoying it. One of the best experiences in terms of learning about Ingrid was flying over Ingrid Christensen Land.

She also flew over it, in 1937, and I had a chance to imagine what she might have felt looking down at it. I also learned that some people think Caroline Mikkelsen’s real landing place in Antarctica hasn’t been found yet. I’ll talk more about that in another post.

 

If you have any more questions, please send them to me by email at jesse.blackadder@aurora.aad.gov.au and I’ll do my best to answer. It’s really nice to know you’re following my adventure.

All the best

Jesse xxx

Penguin swimming

 

 

 

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About Jesse Blackadder

Living at the easternmost tip of Australia on the caldera of an extinct volcano, Jesse Blackadder is a novelist, freelance writer and Doctor of Creative Arts. She is fascinated by landscapes, adventurous women and very cold places and has published three adult novels and three novels for children.
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