17th March

St Patrick’s Day in Antarctica, the people at Casey had green everything; spaghetti, bread, baked beans, eggs, beer, even the ice was green. Toni, who has just moved into my cabin, has been living at Casey for six months studying penguins, and is now heading home to Darwin, said it tasted the same but the colour was off-putting. I flew to Casey after lunch by helicopter, taking off from the heli-deck, and buzzing over the three km of sea in a few minutes. The station itself is a hotchpotch of different coloured buildings, like Mawson, but the landscape was very different, low rocky hills running up to the icecap and a series of broken bays and islands off-shore. I met a friendly guy called Chris, who emailed some photographs to my web page, and another, Noel, who drove some of us up to Penguin Pass, where we could see the Aurora out in the bay, looking tiny in the vast view. I was freezing by the time we got back into the helicopter, but the pilot gave us a treat by detouring over the abandoned American station, Wilkes, so we could check it out. I could see lines of penguins crossing the ice, and it was amazing to see icebergs from above, they have a kind of skirt, underwater, shining like a clear turquoise light. I nearly forgot to tell you one of the best bits of the day. This morning I woke up at about 6.30am and went up to the bridge to see what was going on, and saw a lot of Killer Whales or Orcas, going past. They looked wonderful, their shiny black bodies standing out against the sea, some 'spying' ( putting their heads right out of the water to look ) as we went past. It pays to get up early in Antarctica.

Other items

21st February

Its about 5.00 pm on my first day at sea. We are 200 nautical miles south-west of Hobart in fairly calm seas. I’m still finding my sea legs but haven’t been sick. The anti-seasick tablets make me very sleepy and I had a delicious sleep last night, feeling snug and safe in my bunk as the ship crashed through the sea.

22nd February

Ít doesn’t really feel as though I’m on my way to Antarctica. It feels more like I am on a floating health farm, fabulous food, great gym, no stresses or worries. It has been foggy all day today with calm seas but even so I am very careful about going on deck. It’s such a big ocean that I can’t help imagining how terrible it would be to fall overboard. I watched shearwaters ( mutton birds ) flying around the ship yesterday.