Tuesday 13 January 2009

Cruise Weekly Comment: Antarctic Discovery

Cruise Weekly – Comment by Roderick Eime

You hear expedition cruise companies lather on about "adventure and discovery". Mostly you can take that to mean enlightenment on a personal level, but occasionally it is real news.

A couple years back, Quark's passengers aboard the Kapitan Khlebnikov were able to claim a "farthest south" record when the great Russian icebreaker broke Roald Amundsen's century-old record in the Ross Sea.

Now news has come from Greg Mortimer's expedition working with the Mawson's Huts Foundation about the discovery of a long-lost food cache left for sledging parties as part of the 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE).

"It was a tiny ridge in the white expanse of the polar plateau about 2400 feet above sea level. We observed a cairn surmounted by a tin consistent in shape and construction with kerosene tins associated with the AAE," said Mortimer by satellite phone from Marina Svetaeva. "The tin contains at least three calico bags held in place by a rock. One contains white powder, probably flour and the other a brown substance, possibly pemmican (a food mix favoured by the AAE on sledging parties)."

Built between 1911 and 1914 and full of relics and artifacts, Mawson's Huts at Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay are now heritage listed and painstakingly preserved for the bare handful of visitors who are lucky enough to see them each year in the tiny window of opportunity.

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