Flying south for the winter

Story and photographs by Shane Ness

Antarctica’s wild nature captures the world’s imagination. This white continent caught me and now I get to join a very unique club, for those few people who have wintered over in Antarctica.

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The AAD’s A319 at Wilkins Aerodrome

Australia has been a part of the Antarctic story for 100 years. Sir Douglas Mawson infamous expeditions in the 1930’s have led the way for decades of Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE) expeditioners to work in this icy, remote, extreme and beautiful continent at the bottom of the world.

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Whoop Whoop Hercules

I remember the start of my Antarctic story. I was an apprentice electrician in the 2000’s. I heard that electricians could work in Antarctica, but I felt it was out of reach for your average bloke. Little did I know that 10 years later I would be writing this story from Mawson Station Antarctica, preparing to winter over.

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Vesfold Hills Davis

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Welcome To Davis

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Davis Street Sign

Why Antarctica? I get asked this all the time. For me it is a part of the adventure, I thrive on challenging myself. The Antarctic adventure is not just bout exploring far off lands, it is about the challenges of working in such an extreme environment. The challenges of living in a small community for 12 months and the challenges of being away from my loved ones. This is going to be my biggest challenge ever.

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Davis From The Air

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Ice Berge moving

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Pan Cake Ice

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Rumdoodle from the air

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Twin Otter @ Rumdoodle

Thank you for visiting tatteredpassport, if you have liked this post please share with your friends. You can also follow me by clicking on the “FOLLOW” button or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and BEME.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

The Ethical Road Trip: Australia

The Ethical Road Trip started out as just another adventure, but grew into something that I am super proud of. I could never of imagined what I would learn on this epic journey.

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The Beginning of the adventure

Early in the planning process we decided to support a cause, but what cause? Mental Health was the obvious answer for us. We have supported beyondblue in a previous adventure and mental health is very close to our hearts. We contacted headspace, well aware of what they do and who they help. Headspace is the Youth Mental Health Foundation providing early intervention mental health services to 12- 25 year olds.

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Nullarbor Sunset

Young people are living in a world that is so different from when I was growing up. The pressures of online lifestyles, effects young people in a way I could never imagine. When I was at school I was bullied, but the bullying stopped at school. These days every one has a smart phone which allows the bullying to come home with you, the bullying doesn’t stop, and this is only the start. There are so many issues and levels to youth mental health.

The Ethical Road Trip saw my wife Kristy and I drive a whopping 8500km from Perth to Hobart in our 1976 Kombi. The trip took us 4 weeks and we had the time of our lives. Yes we saw some incredible places like Wave Rock, Esperance’s beautiful beaches, we crossed the Nullarbor, drove on the 90 Mile Straight, Australia’s longest straight road, visited The Great Australian Bite, drove along the Great Ocean Road, watched the sunset over the 12 Apostles, climbed a mountain and saw Tasmania’s natural beauty first hand. What we got from this journey was much more than just beautiful sites, we had time to talk, we had time to enjoy the journey, we had time to take in the experience, we fell in love all over again. A road trip is much more than a road trip, a road trip is an experience like no other, an opportunity to live your life.

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The first stop Wave Rock Hyden

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The best beaches in the world

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Australia’s Longest Straight Road

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The Great Australian Bite

Help us help headspace, you can donate via “The Ethical Road Trip” everyday hero page, or can help raise awareness by simply sharing this post and starting the conversation around mental health.

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Uluru Sunrise

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Our View from the Kombi

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A perfect day at Cradle Mountain

Thank you for stopping by.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

Flying from Tasmania to Antarctica.

Hobart Tasmania, Australia to McMurdo Station Antarctica.

Its 1:30am and we are sitting on the verge waiting for our bus to pick us up and take us to the famous Sapphire Lounge at the Hobart International Airport. For those of you that don’t know where Hobart Tasmania is, well its the little island state off the bottom of Australia. Tassie as us Aussie’s call it is a seriously beautiful location, with picturesque mountains and unusual to the rest of Australia it is very green. Tassie’s airport is very small, however tucked away in the corner is the Saffire Lounge, the international terminal. The only international flights that leave this airport are those that fly to most remote place on earth, Antarctica. Today I am one of those lucky few that get to not only visit this amazing continent, I get to live and work there for the summer season.

We board the AAD, (Australian Antarctic Division) A319 jet plane. I feel this sense of, is this really happening? Am I actually going to Antarctica? We are in the air, this is no ordinary flight, the cock pit is open, there are a bunch of seats in the middle of the aircraft that are missing, there are all these red bags everywhere, and everyone is chatting. Some are reminiscing of their previous expeditions, some are getting to know the other trades are some are just stunned into silence. As we settle at our cruising altitude we are able to move about the aircraft. Everyone seems to congregate in the large open area in the middle. This is so unusual, its like a lounge area, we sit down, chat amongst our selves, we have a few cups of coffee and eat our muffins. This is how air travel should be. I am asked if I wanted to have a look in the cock pit, “Um Yes!” So I walk up to the cock pit, I walk through the door and I am welcomed by the two chilled-out pilots. I sit down next to them and have a great chat. They point out a few things, like the pancake sea ice that is forming, a few small icebergs and a bunch of switches. It is amazing to look out the front window of an aircraft, then to look out and see sea ice, well it’s just breath taking.

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AAD A319

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Antarctic Pancake Ice

As we start our decent, we are instructed to start putting on our survival gear. Now its starts to get really hot. I have so many layers on, of hard core Antarctic survival clothes, but I am still inside the aircraft. I look outside and I can see huge expanse of sea ice, then I see mountain and I can actually see land. I can see Antarctica! We drop below the clouds and I can see the runway. Then we land. I am now on the Frozen Continent. I step off and I am struck by the freezing -17c. My glasses instantly freeze up, my camera lens fogs up and I can feel the hair inside my nostrils freeze. I know that I am here, I am standing on Antarctica. The airstrip at McMurdo is the Pegasus Field and it is on sea ice. It is incredible that the huge A319 Aircraft can land on the sea ice. We are quickly escorted to the infamous “Ivan The Terror Bus”. This huge all terrain people carrier vehicle that looks like something from a Mad Max film, for the very slow drive to McMurdo Station.

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McMurdo Station

Once at ‘Mc Town’ we are informed that we will be staying here for a few days, because of bad weather and that we will be sleeping in the gym. After setting up our camp we get to wander around the station and find our way to Scott’s Discovery Hut, and up on top of a nearby hill to have a look over the Ross Ice Shelf. There I get to see my first Seal, basking in the Antarctic sun. After our long day, we search out one of the two bars that McMurdo has and find ourselves the centre of attention. We play pool, learn a game of Shuffleboard, which has now become one of my favourite pub games, and as Aussies do, we have a few drinks.

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My First seal spotting in Antarctica

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Looking out over the Ross Ice Shelf.

As we leave the bar we are greeted by a perfect midnight sun. This is the first time that I have seen the midnight sun, it is out of this world beautiful. I have a moment and flip out a little. It is midnight and the sun is high in the sky, it is so bright I am forced to wear my sunnies. I am in Antarctica, it -17c, it’s midnight and the sun is shinning bright. This is going to be an EPIC summer.

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Antarctic Midnight sun.

Thank you for stopping by Tattered Passport, If you have liked this post please Like, Share and Follow. Simple click on the button at the bottom of your screen. You can also find Tattered Passport on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

The day I start my biggest adventure ever.

Today is the day, the day I start on my biggest adventure ever. Today I leave for Antarctica. After a few delays we all meet at the bus stop in front of the motel that I have called home for the last week. Its a cold wet Hobart morning, the sun still yet to rise, the fog still yet to clear and the feeling of excitement is thick in the air. The bus arrives we chuck all our gear in the luggage compartment and the adventure begins.

We arrive at the Hobart Airport, its a small airport that pretty much only caters for domestic flights, except for the little terminal that is hidden away in the corner, the “Saffire Lounge”. The Saffire Lounge is the rarely used Hobart International Airport which each year says fare well to all the Antarctic Expeditioners. I enter the small terminal and feel a wash of pride flow through me. I am one of a very small selected group of people who are lucky enough to see this very unique terminal and all that it represents.

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Antarctic Pancake Ice

The flight was not your average international flight, the A319 is a very unique aircraft. The middle seats have been removed to carry luggage, however in this instance the large space allowed the expeditioners the perfect place to mingle. We all hung out in this space, drinking coffee, eating muffins, chatting and of cause taking plenty of photo’s. We were also allowed to walk straight into the cockpit and chat to the pilots. This was a very unique experience. From the cockpit you got the best uninterrupted view of the large expanse of pancake sea ice and huge ice bergs.

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AAD A319

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The AAD A319 at the Pegasus

Once we closed in on Pegasus airstrip, the huge glacial runway at McMurdo the US station inside the Antarctic circle, I started to realise how lucky I was to have been selected for the Australian Antarctic Program. Then I stepped onto the ice and it hit me, A huge smile crept onto my face which 2 months in still has not left. It was bitterly cold, -17c but I did not care. I was here, I was in Antarctica. I quickly snapped a bunch of rushed pics as were getting guided over to “Ivan The Terra Bus”, the single most epic vehicle I have ever seen.

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The most epic vehicle anywhere

After a very bumpy ride we arrived at McMurdo. McMurdo is huge, and I mean huge, I had been told that it was big, but I guess I had no real idea what to expect, but this was not it. My first Antarctic experience was of this massive city, with 1100 people living and working there. I could see massive accommodation buildings, heaps and heaps of vehicles, there was a fire station equipped with a full size american fire truck and I had heard rumours of 3 bars. Was this really the Antarctica that I had expected???

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Chief Gareth and Sparkie Nessy at the famous McMurdo Station sign

Thank you for stopping by Tattered Passport, if you have liked this post please Like and feel free to share. You can also follow by simply clicking on the “FOLLOW” button on the bottom of your screen. I will be posting regular updates from my time in antarctica so stay in touch. You can also find Tattered Passport on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

One Life, One Search.
Peace Out.
Shane.

(PS: I have been filming heaps, including our trip from Hobart to McMurdo, However due to the limited bandwidth we have I can not upload to YouTube. I will upload all my YouTube content as soon as I return to Australian around late feb early March 2015)