25 Nights Ross Sea - In the Wake of Mawson


oyage to one of the least visited coastlines in the world and discover why East Antarctica held such a fascination for pioneering Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson. A passionate scientist, explorer and academic, Mawson spent his life devoted to exploring and studying Antarctica. His 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) and joint 1929-1931 British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) mapped and explored the coastal area of Antarctica, defining Australia’s claim over the icy continent.


Our journey takes us from Hobart via Australia’s icy outback Macquarie Island, where we are introduced to four different species of penguin at this UNESCO World Heritage Site before sailing to Antarctica. Crossing the Antarctic Circle, where the sun stays above the horizon, we move closer to Mawson’s Antarctica. Pelagic birdlife wheels overhead on our journey south as we navigate astounding ice formations and marvel at Mertz Glacier's ice tongue. Highlights of our voyage in this region will include exploring and retracing history at Cape Denison, the location of Mawson’s Hut, where we plan to visit the far eastern sector of the Australian Antarctic Territory.


Zodiac cruising along the ice edge and among passing floes, we should encounter Adelie Penguins and, if we are lucky, Emperor Penguins. Cetaceans on previous expeditions have included Fin, Minke, Blue and Humpback Whales; Orca also can be seen in this region. Birds we might encounter include Snow Petrels, Antarctic Petrels, Giant Petrels, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Cape Petrels and Antarctic Fulmar, whilst Crabeater, Weddell and Leopard Seals may be resting along the ice edge. With long daylight hours and magnificent landscapes the photographic opportunities are endless in this land of snow and ice. We also plan to visit the region Terre Adelie which has a coastline of roughly 300 kilometres and comprises the French sector where the French station Dumont D’Urville is located, and close by, Port Martin.

Cabin Type
Departure Date

Day 1: Hobart

Arrive in Hobart, meet fellow adventurers and some of our expedition team this evening during a private tour and reception at the Mawson’s Huts replica, and stay over night in a local hotel.


Day 2: Port of Hobart

Enjoy breakfast and exploring Hobart. After completing security formalities embark the ship and be welcomed on board by the Captain and expedition team. Settle into your cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship before joining the Captain in the bridge as we set sail.


Days 3 to 5: At Sea

Preparing for our arrival at Macquarie Island, there are great birding opportunities which may include the Wandering Albatross, Royal Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Lightmantled Sooty Albatross, Salvin’s Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Northern and Southern Giant Petrel, Sooty Shearwater and Little Shearwater, Fairy Prion, Fulmar Prion and Antarctic Prion.


Days 6 to 7: Macquarie Island

This UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Australia’s jewel in the Southern Ocean, has a history firmly linked to Mawson’s endeavours. This enduring windy, rocky outpost supports one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the Southern Hemisphere. Millions of penguins breed here with four different species: King, Rockhopper, Gentoo and the endemic Royal calling this island home. You will never forget your first experience of Sandy Bay’s perpetually active penguin metropolis, while the King Penguin rookery at Lusitania Bay is noisy and spectacular with a quarter of a million King Penguins standing at attention on shore. Large groups of Southern Elephant Seals slumber on the beaches and in the tussock, there are three species of fur seals and four species of albatross, Wandering, Black-browed, Grey-headed and Lightmantled Sooty.


Days 8 to 10: At Sea

Soaring albatross and petrels circle the vessel as we steam southward through the Southern Ocean. Lectures concentrate on Antarctica and drifting icebergs of extraordinary shapes and colour begin to appear as we pass the Antarctic Circle and into the continent’s realm of 24-hour daylight.


Days 11 to 16: East Antarctica

Exploring the historic and isolated coastline of Commonwealth Bay, where very few have ventured before, our expedition also carries the same thrill of the unknown as we traverse the frozen coastline following in the wake of great adventurers. We hope to visit the following areas: Commonwealth Bay Our first explorations on the remote East Antarctic coastline will be at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay. Here we hope to see, and experience, Mawson’s Hut – established for the 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition – and its environs, which includes the Memorial Cross to expeditioners Ninnis and Mertz who perished during the infamous three man ‘Far Eastern Party’ sledging trip (which Mawson himself barely survived). Nesting near the hut are substantial numbers of Adelie Penguin and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel. Dumont d’Urville, Port-Martin West from Cape Denison is the French Research Base, Dumont d’Urville, which we will visit if permission is granted and ice conditions permit. The base’s main area of study is wildlife, notably the Emperor Penguin. In summer, the rocks near the base are also home to an Adelie Penguin rookery, as well as skua, Snow Petrel, Giant Petrel and Cape Petrel. This French base was rebuilt on the current site after a fire destroyed the original research station located at Port Martin, over 60 kilometres east of Dumont d’Urville. We also plan to visit this abandoned site. McKellar Islands This group of approximately 30 small islands and rocks were discovered by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition under Mawson. We will not land at these islets but there may be good opportunities for wildlife sightings close by. East from Cape Denison we follow the East Antarctic ice edge towards the Mertz Glacier. The Mertz Glacier emerges from the mountains of East Antarctica in King George V land. Extending into the ocean with a floating tongue, this tongue advanced from 1956 to 2010 a distance of 43 kilometres without calving. In 2010 it was struck by the B9B iceberg causing the Mertz Glacier tongue to calve off an iceberg 78 kilometres long. With the extended daylight hours, there is time to enjoy the light bouncing off the ice as we sail. We plan to cruise the icebergs and coastline in the Zodiacs looking for wildlife.


Days 17 to 20: At Sea

When we depart from the spectacular icebound majesty of Antarctica we will have some quieter time at sea to recover from the extensive daylight hours. Travelling along the Antarctic convergence for part of this, we will remain vigilant for sea and birdlife. Take part in a series of lectures designed to prepare you for our visit to Campbell Island.


Days 21 to 22: Campbell Island – Perseverance Harbour

We spend two days exploring the island by foot taking in the panorama of rocky islets and sea stacks; once the lonely preserve of settlers and seal hunters and now returned to nature. Enjoy an easy walk to the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross at Col Lyall or walk across the hills to Northwest Bay and see the strange and beautiful megaherbs on the hills. These huge pink and yellow wild flowers have adapted well to the harsh conditions. We also seek out other wildlife such as Campbell Island Shags, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and, on the beaches beyond, young male sea lions testing their strength.


Day 23: Auckland Islands – Carnley Harbour

We arrive in Carnley Harbour, once the caldera of the Carnley volcano. The walls of the caldera have been breached on both the eastern and western sides, separating Adams Island to the south. The eastern entrance is navigable for smaller vessels such as ours. The extensive harbour is rich in history and in opportunities. We have a number of options including a reasonably difficult scramble to a Shy Albatross colony on South West Cape. There will also be the option to Zodiac cruise the pristine shores of Adams Island and Western Harbour. Other options include visiting an abandoned WWII Coastwatcher’s hut and landing on the shores on the north arm of Carnley Harbour where the Grafton was wrecked in 1865.


Day 24: Auckland Islands – Enderby Island

Enderby Island is a wildlife rich island with no equal in the Southern Ocean, considered one of the most beautiful of the Subantarctic Islands. Enderby Island’s landscape is a mix of regenerating rata forest – playing host to native songbirds, the Tui and Bellbird, and chatterbox Red-fronted Parakeets – and otherworldly megaherbs. The island is home to the rarest sea lion in the world, the New Zealand Sea Lion, which breeds on Sandy Bay beach where we plan to land. As we walk around the island, we will encounter the Yellow-eyed Penguin, the rarest penguin in the world, and nesting Royal Albatross. We could also see the endemic snipe, shag and Auckland Island Flightless Teal.


Day 25: The Snares

It has been claimed that The Snares are home to more nesting seabirds than all of the British Isles. Uninhabited and protected, the only mammals are New Zealand fur seals and sea lions. Zodiac cruising the jagged coast we should see endemic Snares Crested Penguin, Snares Island Tomtit and Snares Island Fernbird, plus Sooty Shearwater and returningto-nest Buller’s Albatross.


Day 26: Invercargill

Early this morning we will arrive in the Port of Bluff. After a final breakfast and completing Custom formalities we bid farewell to our fellow voyagers and take a complimentary coach transfer to either a central city point or to the airport. Enquire for a full itinerary and/or

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