Jan's Antarctica Adventure 2007-8 travel blog

Sunset over Antarctica

Outside Mawson's Hut

Douglas Mawson's Bedroom

Up at Land's End

Penguin rookerie, Cape Denison

On 8 January 1912 Sir Douglas Mawson landed on the Antarctic continent after travelling by boat from Hobart for 36 days!

Cape Denison is suppose to be the windiest place on earth, and is home to approx 60,000 Adelie Penguins, seals and many varieties of petrels. It has significant historic interest for me as it shows Australia's early presence on the continent. From what I read, much is as it was back in 1911-13.

to view the area click here

Sunrise none, Sunset none!

As predicted, I couldn't sleep. I stood out at the back of the ship between 0000 and 0100 and watched the sunset. It was a bit of a Clayton's sunset, as it didn't really set - it just went down very close to the horizon, hovered there for a while and then started to come back up again. The colours were breathtaking. The early morning was absolute magic - slight wind, slight seas and lots of sun - and we were in high anticipation for a fine day at Cape Denison. Being the winner of the iceberg competition, I was on the first zodiac (at 1010 hours) to the landing site and first into Mawson's Hut. You are taken into the Hut by a guide in groups of three. I spent about seven minutes in there - there has been significant restoration work over the past 10 years and this is still going on today. The sense of history didn't escape me. The two main rooms housed 18 men and were relatively small. The hut had a distinct smell. Much was as it was left in1914, most the worst for the harsh weather conditions at Cape Denison, but you could really 'feel' the era.

From the hut I walked up to Land's End and was met with a magnificent view. I just stood there for ages looking at the sea cliffs. Occasionally small sections of ice fell into the sea. From there I traversed across the top of the ridge and up to the Proclamation Flagpole - Douglas Mawson proclaimed this area of Antarctica as British Sovereignty on 5 January 1931. I just sat near the flagpole and watched below for what seemed like ages. From there I walked down to the penguin rookeries, past Waddell seals basking in the sunshine and them went up to the Mertz and Ninnis Memorial Cross and more penguin rookeries. I watched penguins feeding their young, penguins stealing small stones from each other, penguins really just going about daily business. It's breeding time, so there was lots of activity. One thing I couldn't cope with was the smell near the rookeries. Horrible!

I went back to the ship at 1600 for lunch and went back out again from 1730 until 2030, when it started to get a bit cold. The weather was spectacular - the guides said you might be lucky to get 5 or 6 days like this all year. How wonderful one of these was when I was here. I feel absolutely exhausted - I must have walked kilometres today. I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep if I can come down off the high I am on after such a spectacular day.

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