Sunday, January 23, 2011

Steaming South in Style

The grass is cut and it is time to head south again. This time it will undoubtedly be in more style than ever before as I will be aboard the cruise ship "Orion". I am joining her as a field guide on an expedition to the Ross Sea with visits to Maquarie Island and Campbell Island on route. It will be great to revist these amazing Southern Ocean islands and see the Ross Sea which is virgin territory for me. Packing for this includes all the thermals and cold weather gear that I am accustomed to but inclusion of a dinner jacket and chinos is new to my Antarctic packing list. (

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Grande Tour

A great part of an adventure is the initial doodlings where lines are drawn across maps oblivious to any harsh realities. The posibilities are endless and any problems have yet to rear their ugly heads.

I was lucky enough to find myself amongst inspiring adventurers at the Royal Geographic Society's Explore Conference in 2008 and amongst them were a few who had recently cycled around the world. They were noticably positive happy people and I thought "I want a bit of that!". In retrospect they may have been exuberant at not having to mount the saddle again, but I suspect that the freedom of the open road was what I was sensing from them. Despite them being very down to earth and approachable people I was completely overawed by what they had achieved and couldnt bring myself to speak with them. They couldnt say anything that wasnt completely overwhelmed by their general demeanor and deeds.

I gradually came to terms with what it would involve and started making steps toward setting off on the open road myself. The first step was to get a bicycle and this I found with Babs at the Valencia Cyclery, San Francisco and shipped it home to Tassie. Since then it has been steadily sprouting pannier racks, bags and bottle holders.The best bit has been tracing lines across maps of possible routes, destinations and highlights. Being of the belief that such planning should not be too detailed and that plenty of room be left for changes to the plan I bought an illustrative map of the world. It is as friendly and non threatening as a map of the world can be.

The first step is across the Tasman to New Zealand and to start at Bluff, heading north to Cape Reinga. The plan is to start in April, but before then, I join the Orion for a voyage into the Ross Sea and a return to the Sub Antarctic Islands of Maquarie and Campbell that are truely amazing. In addition the good ship Dove is being refitted and the plan is to sail her to Hobart in early April, an adventuire in itself.

So there is lots on the drawing board this year and no doubt lots to write. Their will be challenges, unexpected bonuses, interesting characters and some stunning displays of nature, so it would be great to have you along for the ride.