Crossing the Southern Ocean

What a two-week Antarctic voyage does:IMG_8700

Shakes you up

Lays you out

Slows you down

Turns you in.


It was a surreal fortnight, carried across 5000km of ocean in the belly of the great metal beast – the Aurora Australis icebreaker – as she counts down the voyages to her retirement. The outer world disappears and daily reality is the little cabin, the long corridors, vast amounts of food served three times a day, ceaseless motion, and the choice to stay in or rug up and go outside. Seasickness tablets and the need for lots of sleep intensify the altered state.

Cabin D30 with me, Jane and Anna (seabird biologist on the way to live on an island with penguins for six weeks) turned into Malory Towers Upper Fourth. Honed our radio skills by creating call signs for each bunk, shared lollies, told stories, took photos, watched movies, giggled a lot and practiced getting into and out of our emergency clothing in less than 45 minutes.

Reaching the ice edge was as incredible as I remembered from last time – the expanse of grey tossing sea turned into the wonder of sea ice and scattered icebergs and the chance to spot whales, penguins, orcas, seabirds and seals.

IMG_0323After a relatively smooth and easy voyage, we got to Davis in record time. Most voyages were staying at Davis, and the small number of us going to Mawson then waited on the almost uninhabited ship for four or five days for the last part of our journey – but air. It

was a flight I’ll remember forever: two and a half hours in a little twin otter, flying over the Antarctic coastline – the meeting place of the continental ice shelf and the frozen sea. I spotted Scullin Monolith – the landing place of Ingrid Christensen who I wrote about in Chasing the Light – that was pretty special.

Amazing though the trip was, it doesn’t compare to arriving at Mawson Station. On that: more soon.

IMG_9133 2

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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11 Responses to Crossing the Southern Ocean

  1. Helen Tighe says:

    Hey Jesse, what an adventure again! Glad you arrived safe and sound and by plane, very cool! Keep the blog coming. Sydney is a bit cool and grey at the moment but definitely has the end of year vibe, post Melbourne Cup. My mums home, well the house she and dad owned next door is on the market and goes to auction Saturday week. The reality of her departure is really hitting home now. We have to sell her place next and go through all her belongings. My work is crazy busy and that’s a bit tedious. My kids are gorgeous in between exhibiting lots of teenage angst, mostly by Max. I’m living in land of the Giants and I’m not the one who belongs! I keep saying the words of the great font ‘this too will pass’. Enjoy your adventure love. Hels xx

  2. I didn’t realise you were at it again, dear Jesse. We just returned from our own grand adventure (not to the Antarctic, though) and there you be… It looks stunning and sounds amazing! Looking forward to hearing about Mawson Station. 🙂 Miss you at CB. Hugs to you, lovely friend.

  3. gina baker says:

    One adventurous woman in a very cold place. Can’t wait to read the next installment Mrs B

  4. viggerskarengmailcom says:

    Makes me feel homesick, even though it’s been more than 20 years!

  5. ailsapiper says:

    Completely thrilling. Hope it continues to unfold beautifully. Brrrrrrr. xxxxx

  6. Julie edwards says:

    Sounds amazing Jesse, the blog brings it to life like watching a movie not reading it , great photos, keep enjoying luv always julie lee and bet xxxx

  7. jenboau7 says:

    What a treat to follow such truly extraordinary adventures. I can’t wait to see and read more of the weeks ahead xxx

  8. jenboau7 says:

    What extraordinary adventures you continue to have Jesse. What a thrill it is to read about them with such anticipation of the next instalment xxx

  9. Rasata Knight says:

    Hi Jesse amazing journey. Please tell us about the BirdLife. Love following. Best Rasata

  10. margie says:

    Sounds wonderful Jess and sounds like you are loving it!

  11. Susan Pitt says:

    Aaah Anna the goal umpire scientist Anna.

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