Antarctic Cruise to Mawson’s Hut

Unbeknownst to anyone who is not Australian, and probably not known to most Australians, is the legend of one of the world’s great polar explorers, Sir Douglas Mawson.

Unlike many of those early 20th century Antarctic explorers, Mawson actually survived his winter on the continent. He is famous for establishing a hut at a place called Commonwealth Bay.

There was not much information on Antarctic weather conditions available at the time, but throughout the winter, Mawson proved that he had, unwittingly, built his meagre hut in one of the world’s windiest places. The average breeze blew at 80kmh (50 mph), and when it really blew it could reach a velocity of 200kmh.

Today, Mawson’s Hut still remains in situ, but many of the sturdy boards from which it was built are now but paper thin remnants of their original form, thanks to those impenetrable and continuous winds.

2011 is the centenary of the building of Mawson’s Hut, and to help commemorate this great Australian Antarctic explorer, a 26-day cruise has been announced which departs Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, on 2 December, returning to Bluff, New Zealand on 27 December.

The ship which will be making this momentous voyage is the Akademic Shokalskiya, which was built in Finland in 1982 for academic research, but which was converted into a passenger vessel in 1998.

The Akademic Shokalskiya is a small ship carrying a maximum of 49 passengers in outside cabins.

As part of the cruise, passengers will visit sub-Antarctic islands that are very rich in wildlife, particularly birds.

As well as landing at Commonwealth Bay and visiting Mawson’s Hut, this expedition also gives passengers the opportunity to actually overnight on the Antarctic mainland, and experience that is very rare for people who do not participate in official Antarctic expeditions.

The cruise will also provide an opportunity for passengers to see emperor penguins in their natural environment. It is a journey that will guarantee a true adventure and the opportunity to get to know the Great White Continent, which is the least known of all the continents, in a way that few people could possibly imagine.

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