Wednesday, March 5, 2008

ANTARCTICA One ticket left for Antartica. 2007

It's not luck but being fortunate, that makes my world go round.


We're got a problem you guys, I think 
 there is a piece missing.

I ended up in Antarctica after a long battle with three events that changed my life. The first one was an injury I received back in 1996 whilst I was farming and doing contract boiler-making  in Tasmania.
The second event was when I had to sell my farm after 14 years, my shoulder injury had permanent damage which restricted me from being able to work the farm properly. This forced both me and my wife of two years to look for a new start.We traveled some time and after she returned to Tasmania for a visit, informed me by a bank statement that the bank account was empty, she decided to stay in Tassie and buy a house for herself with my money!!!!
The third event took me nearly 8 years, I sued the company that I was working for as a contract boilermaker, I sued my ex-wife to get my money back and I WON both cases eventually.
I received less money then I should have from both cases, but I was free from all that physical and emotional hassle of lawyers and court houses, letters and excuses from people telling me why, it has to take so long to settle, when it was all over, I decided to do what I love to do and so I went to a local travel agent in Mackay, QLD.and asked for pamphlets and  advice on where I could go for a break, some where different and unique.
Being fortunate and being in the right place at the right time, I stepped in to a chance of a lifetime, this TRAVEL AGENT ( Melanie, a great lady ) happened to be the organizer for a group of Doctors from all over Australia who were going down to Antarctica for an International Medical Conference ( Tax Dodge Conference )

This piece of iceberg showing, we were told, is only about 1/9th of the actual size.It appears to have melted and rolled over into a vertical position.
On the trip, we were shown photos of a drifting iceberg, which, when measured by the Russian ships crew, measured roughly, 7 kms long, 3 kms wide and the height of the ice out of the water was 40 metres.

It was on a Russian Research Vessel and she told me that she had one cancellation and was I interested in going down there, just as a passenger.
I jumped her desk and put my credit card under her nose and said, I will take that seat, so that was it, I was on my way to Antarctica.
The two ships that do these trips are EX Russian COLD WAR vessels, they were designed to hunt out American nuclear subs, but after they were built, in the late 80's, the cold war ended and these two vessels were put into moth balls.

Peregrine are now using these ships to do tours in the summer, trips to both the Arctic and the Antarctic which helps to pay for the Russian scientists to do ocean exploration in their winter, so both parties have come off for the better, after all.

The rule down here is " you cannot go and touch the animals " so I laid  down on the snow "all  the  doctors thought I was crazy " until this happened, they came to me.

Of the 110 passengers on board, I was the only unemployed person, but I loved every moment of the whole voyage, I got to know a few of the Russian crew, the lady in the bar where I drank free coffee and coke, the ladies serving the food,  we had a ball, talking and teaching each other languages, we talked about our own countries, they were excellent crew and it was nice to be a part of their life for a short time.
I spent 10 days exploring this amazing continent, not many people have the chance to see what I saw, it is expensive, but worth every cent of it.

This was one moment in my life, that I will never forget.
I was so close to this MINKE WHALE,he came around the dinghy and actually dove under where I was sitting.
I "could" have rubbed my hand on its head and back, he was so calm and inquisitive.
This  is why I wanted to see this part or any part of Antarctica, the animals don't fear anything down here, it is a place that is untouched and they have no fear of  humans. It is a place that Mother nature has made to let them live in peace, it is a safe haven for wildlife.

These photo's tell their own story.

Every day was an event full day, breakfast, a talk about the days schedule and off we would go, dress up in warm clothes, gum boots on, life jackets strapped on and into the dinghy's.
I managed to get up front most and nearly every time we went boating, I loved it all to death. You never know what you are going to see, it can be seals, whales, penguins, birds, orca's .
We would go out at least twice a day, up to 4-5 hours at a time, go ashore or just go looking, there were no rules with these guys, find , tell the other 8 dinghy's by radio, sit and watch.
Some days the temp got down to maybe -7 to 10 cel.
The list of animals that I sited in Antarctica is below:

·         Humpback Whales
·         Minke Whales
·         Killer Whales (ORCA )
·         Gentoo Penguins
·         Chinstrap Penguins
·         Leopard seals
·         Crabeater Seals
·         Black Fur Seals
·         Many different types of bird life
It doesn't matter if you take a thousand photos or tell people how it was, it is something I can't fully explain, the feeling of being in such a beautiful place.
An example of this feeling, happened on the last day.
We were making our way back out into the Drake Passage, heading back to Argentina.We rounded a corner and entered a very large bay, I could see the open passage out to sea, up ahead. Why do I have to leave????
My camera was hot from taking the last pictures and I felt so happy and so sad. We had seen lots of wildlife that had even surprised the crew.
It was lunch time and I wandered down to the mess hall for a feed, not really hungry, but it was good food and it was cold.I walked into the mess hall, started to grab a plate and some food when the loud speaker came on and announced that there were ORCA'S off the port bow.
Plate went down and I went up.This event was a time of silence for all.
Just picture a big open bay, maybe 5 kms in diameter. When I got to the top of the bridge, I could see three sets of animals ahead of us. One set was penguins, one set was a pod  humpback whales and over in the distance was one group of Orca's, 8 in number heading towards the other two sets, this is trouble for someone.
Within a few minutes, it was crazy, the whales did the tail flap and down they went, the penguins also dived, the Ora's split up and dove.For 3 to 4 minutes I could not see a thing, what was happening under the water, there was complete silence on board, they stopped the ship and we just sat and waited.
I tried to work out what was going to happen, would the orca's go for a whale or would they round up the penguins.

After a short time, it started to happen on the surface again, the penguins were literally running across the water in one direction, the whales had come up for air and headed straight for the open passage, down they went again, the orca's were in two groups and they started to come back together again, and headed off in a different direction, so all was back to normal again.
It seems that no one got taken, they told me that the animals were fairly well fed by now and food probably wasn't a big issue at this time, I was so happy for all of them.
It made me think about WILDLIFE, they live their whole lives in fear, every moment of their lives, they are vulnerable to attacks for all kinds of animals, we aren't.!!!!!!!!!!
I have watched a leopard seal chase a chinstrap penguin around a small iceberg, I have seen seals with kills on the floating ice, blood and meat scattered around after a kill, it is life down here for them, eat or be eaten.
It is a survival of the fittest, I can accept that, but not all of the other shit that goes on outside of here.
Back down to a late lunch and I added another animal siting to my list, Orca's on the last day.
This whole event was priceless, this is ANTARCTICA.

After I returned to Australia, I had no commitments at all, no wife, no mortgage or  bills to pay and it seemed to me, to be the right time to move on again, and that's when I decided to do South America on a bike, a decision I have never regretted.


  1. What a great picture! Its awe-inspiring!

  2. absolutely amazing photos, what an experience for you. wow!

  3. Hi Peter, glad to see that you *finally* have a blog. Hope you will update it frequently so we can all travel along. Good luck in South Africa and you will certainly be back on the road in no time.
    With my very best wishes,
    Fernando, Ilhabela, Brazil