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I S S U E 1 W o r l d E d i t i o n F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3

Inspirational voyages for todays responsible traveller

Top travel writers and photographers share their adventures

Man of the Jungle

Up close and intensely personal

100 years of Australian Antarctic exploration relived

Frozen in Time

Kimberley Kaleidoscope
Australias ancient tapestry of wonder

there is nothing like PNG for an authentic experience

Cruising Goes Wild

Exotic Isles of Fog and Vodka


- Unlocking the secrets of Russias Kuril Islands

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From the Founder

elcome to the first edition of Journeys, an e-magazine about Orions expeditions and destinations featuring articles by well known travel writers from around the world. I know people choose expedition cruising for many different reasons and some of you reading this may be yet to stick that first nervous toe in the water. Perhaps youre not sure what expedition cruising is all about and why its such a completely different type of travel. For those who have travelled aboard expedition ships already, these lively tales will help you relive the enjoyment and fascinating experiences one more time and maybe share them with friends and family, helping spread the word about this exciting form of travel. For those of you already experienced in expedition cruising, I hope this e-magazine will enlighten you to Orions unique offerings and why we believe you should consider our journeys in your travel plans. While I pay special attention to Orion guests feedback, I am just as excited to read what the professionals think. So we at Orion thought you might like to read their own very personal experiences. Much as you may enjoy perusing brochures and seeing alluring advertisements, a colourful and third party account provides an important independent perspective. You will be relieved to know there is no hard-sell in this magazine; just selected stories and reflections by highly respected writers who have travelled, both independently and with a variety of tour operators, to many destinations. Their experienced and incisive opinions are as valuable as they are enjoyable to read. My thanks go to all the contributors for their time travelling with us in the first place, the generous editorial space provided and, invariably, favourable comments. Now, also, for allowing us to reproduce their articles in their entirety (with the exception of some factual details that may have changed since the publication date such as voyage departure dates and pricing). No story editing has been done. I hope this collection of travel experiences whets your travel appetite and that you choose to take your journey with Orion. Kindest regards,

Journeys Magazine is published by Orion Expedition Cruises Founder and Managing Director: Sarina Bratton Editorial coordinator: Roderick Eime Design and layout: Mark Brewster Contributors: John Borthwick, Roderick Eime, Stephen Scourfield, Louise Southerden, Amy Watkins Cover Photo: Camp Leakey, Tanjung Puting Reserve (Kalimantan Tengah) by Nick Rains (
Australia 1300 361 012 New Zealand 0800 44 44 62 North America 1877 674 6687 UK 020 7399 7620 Japan 181 3 5695 1647 Germany 040 30 97 98 40 Singapore 800 101 2524 Other Reservations +61 2 9033 8777 Email Web For more information visit your travel agent.

Sarina Bratton Founder & Managing Director Orion Expedition Cruises

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Louise Southerden
northern beaches.

Louise Southerden is one of Australias most awarded travel writers, having won the ASTW Travel Writer of the Year award three times, most recently this year, as well as awards for Best Journey or Adventure story and Best Responsible Tourism story. She has been writing travel for publications in Australia and overseas for more than 17 years, is the author of two books Surfs Up: The Girls Guide to Surfing and Japan: a working holiday guide and is based in Sydney. When not on deadline and not travelling, she can be found in the surf on Sydneys Louise travelled to Antarctica aboard Orion on the Mawsons

Antarctica itinerary in December 2010 visiting Commonwealth Bay, Cape Denison, Macquarie Island and Campbell Island.

British cruise journalist Amy Watkins loves life at sea and has explored all corners of the globe from the northern frozen waters of Canada and Greenlands Arctic to rounding the legendary Cape Horn in South America on expeditions. Her cruise adventures have taken her from the heart of Asia - in the wilds of Borneo and the mighty Mekong - to the remote northern coast of Australias Kimberley region. Amy writes cruise news, reviews and features for UK newspapers, magazines and websites and is happiest when she is looking out at the horizon over an expanse of sea.


John Borthwick

Russian Far East


John Borthwick is a multi-award winning freelance writer/photographer and the author, he concedes, of probably too many feature articles on travel. He acknowledges that its a mugs game but, as a mug, he still loves being AWOL from domesticity and other responsibilities. His stories appear in The Weekend Australian, The West Australian and other publications. Johns books include Summer In Siam, Chasing Gauguins Ghost and The Circumference of the Knowable World, his photography is featured in Getty Images library, he holds a PhD in travel literature and has swum at the North John travelled aboard Orion II on Natural Treasures of the Russian Far East

in July 2011, visiting Otaru, Korsakov, Sakhalin, Kuril Islands, Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, Tyuleny Island and Sakhalin.

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Stephen Scourfield is Travel Editor of The West Australian the author of 11 books. He has twice been named Australias Best Travel Writer. His novel Other Country, set in the Kimberley, won the WA Premier fiction award and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize. His published in February 2013 by UWA Publishing. It is a sequel to Other River Runs. He won the International Cruise Council Australasia Media Award 2009 with a story on an Orion voyage. Stephen has travelled several times aboard Orion and wrote this story after his Kimberley Expedition in June 2010.

next novel, As the River Runs is also set in the Kimberley, and will be Country, a third edition of which is being republished alongside As the

Roderick Eime seems to live a life of constant adventure. A specialist

writer and photographer for expedition cruising, he is regularly published locally and around the world, spending several months each

year aboard the worlds adventure fleet. He has received several awards for his stories and photography and is an unabashed fan of Papua New Guinea, a destination he says is tailor-made for small ship itineraries. its fifth edition.

He is also the editor of the Adventure Cruise Guide, about to publish Rod has made numerous trips to PNG but wrote this story after his journey aboard MV Orion in September 2008 visiting Milne Bay, Madang and the Sepik (Watam village) enroute for Rabaul. Samarai Island, Kwato Island, Fergusson Island, Tufi, Tami Islands,

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Stephen Scourfield


Roderick Eime

Papua New Guinea

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Consistently ranked among the top handful of serious expedition vessels by the global arbiter of all things cruising, the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships awarded Orion 1612 points and 4.5 stars. As expedition cruising grows in global popularity, many cruise lines are pressing vessels into service that were never meant for the rigours of the worlds wild oceans. Orion, on the other hand, was built to exacting specifications with a maximum ice

hen it comes to expedition cruising, Orion is about as good as it gets.

rating and a degree of structural integrity normally only found in ships destined for the toughest conditions. For Orion to sail into the screaming sixties of the Southern Ocean is of no concern to her. Expedition cruising does not mean doing it tough and going without the comforts of big ship cruising. In fact, Orions status as a boutique ship means not only does she compete with the worlds most luxurious and exclusive vessels in the Berlitz ratings, she also has the ability to venture to lands where these other pampered passengers would never dream of. A maximum of 50 couples enjoy the

... cruising is the wrong word for this type of eco-travel; it is more like having a magic carpet whisk you to destinations that most people have never heard of .
Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships

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Length: 103m Beam: 14.25m Draft: 3.82m Hull: Ice-reinforced for voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic Gross Tonnage: 4,000 Engine: Mak; 8M25; 3,265HP Speed: 15 knots. Cruise speed: 13 knots. Stabilisers: Blohm & Voss, retractable fin stabilisers Maneuverability: Bow and stern thrusters Built: 2003 Delivery Date: November 2003 Builder: Cassens Shipyard-Emden, Germany Staterooms and Suites: 53 Guest Capacity: 106 (twin occupancy) Crew: 75 Elevator: Yes Classification: Lloyds Register alt100 A5 E3 Passenger Ship alt MC E3 AUT

attention of 75 carefully selected crew members. Gourmet a la carte dining takes place in a single, unassigned session, either in the classically elegant Constellation restaurant or the more relaxed atmosphere outside on the open deck. All staterooms and suites aboard Orion have ocean views, flat screen TVs, DVD/CD players, marble bathrooms and mini-refrigerators. In the public spaces, theres a state-of-the-art 90seat lecture theatre and Vega Health Spa incorporating massage and beauty treatments as well as a gymnasium, sauna and Jacuzzi spa. Orion offers a range of included

and optional shore side expeditions designed to enhance the destination experience. There are ten heavy-duty Zodiac rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and ten sea kayaks to enjoy when anchored in any of the calm bays. So, if you thought expedition cruising was all about retired foreign naval ships and repurposed ferries, Orion would love to help change your perception. Why not call the office and ask for a brochure. Call 1300 361 012 (Australia), +61 2 9033 8700 (International), visit or see your travel agent.

Regulations: Orion is built according to the latest international safety regulations, including those of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Public Health, and those governing shipping to the Antarctic and Arctic regions. Orion fully meets the stringent regulations required to operate in Australia and New Zealand coastal waters. Additional Craft: 10 Zodiac Heavy Duty MK5, 10 Kayaks, 2x12 passenger tenders Communications:Direct-dial satellite telephones; fax; e-mail; Internet access; internal telephone system. Registry: Bahamas

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What is expedition
xpedition cruising has its roots deep in the human psyche. It stems from our innate desire to inquire, explore and expand the boundaries of our environment and knowledge. One could list great navigators such as Magellan, Cook, La Perouse and Columbus as some of the pioneer expedition cruisers.
The 21st-century expedition cruiser, however, is transported in vastly different vessels to those great explorers. Gone are the days of deprivation, scurvy and mythical sea monsters. Today you sail with state-of-the-art satellite navigation, first-rate medical facilities, gourmet cuisine and supremely comfortable accommodations. Just as the more familiar cruise travel on the big ships is enjoying a healthy resurgence, expedition cruising, or adventure cruising as it is also called, is booming. Recent studies by travel industry researchers indicate travellers are in search of experience-driven travel more than ever before. Intelligent, sophisticated travellers are looking for a break from the mundane offerings, the contrived packaged tours and the plain old been-there-done-that. More often than not, experienced expeditioners have seldom, if ever, been aboard the massive ocean-going behemoths. They are driven by a desire to explore new and wild places only accessible by smaller vessels where there may not even

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be a wharf or jetty. Its common, even expected, that many shore excursions will see passengers disembarking their sturdy Zodiac tenders in gumboots to wade the few metres to shore on a remote island or pebbly beach somewhere only these specialised vessels can access. Instead of a flag waving guide with a bullhorn herding guests onto coaches, inquisitive penguins will squawk a greeting or local villagers in colourful traditional costume will dance and chant to the rhythm of crude skin drums. Generally you can tell an expedition cruise from a regular one by any one or all of these characteristics: Products driven by the destination and experience. Fewer passengers, typically less than 200, but often as few as a dozen. This enables operators to better deliver a more personal and enriching experience. Smaller vessels capable of navigating narrow and shallow waterways inaccessible to regular cruise ships. Flexible and adjustable itineraries to take into account changing conditions and opportunities. An extensive shore excursion program, often with a choice of several disembarkations per day. Destinations often have little or no tourism infrastructure and focus instead on natural, cultural and ecological attractions. Expedition team includes lecturers drawn from academia and science who are able to impart an enriching interpretation during the voyage. Go ashore in rugged Zodiac inflatable fast tenders instead of lumbering enclosed lifeboats.

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Amy Watkins encounters tempestuous storms, tropical forests and finally, the elusive man of the jungle on an expedition voyage along the coast of Sabah


man of the

This story first appeared in Country & Town House magazine

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eafood supper under the stars had been cancelled, but thanks to Borneos torrential tropical rain we could barely hear the announcement.
Soggy barbecues were not our priority at that point, as we could hardly see our expedition ship as we bobbed in the dinghy while lightning

ripped across the heavens. Crackles and rumbles from the angry sky sent a shiver through us as we waited to return on board after an excursion into the Klias Wetlands. Wed signed up for an adventurous nine-day expedition cruise around Sabah, with Australian-owned Orion Expeditions, but storm-chasing was a new addition to the itinerary. You have to expect the unexpected when youre travelling to remote areas and its essential to pack an adventurous spirit along with your sunglasses and camera. Borneo is divided into the northern Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, where our ship sailed from the city of Kota Kinabalu; the independent Sultanate of Brunei; and the southern Indonesian part of the island. Borneo is most famous for its gentle, endemic orangutans, but its also home to a diverse range of wildlife, from comical-looking proboscis monkeys, to the colourful hornbill birds and gigantic monitor lizards. When we arrived, the air was ripe with the tang of sun-drying fish and at the local market, elderly men furiously clacked away on vintage Singer sewing machines, each with a cigarette clamped between his lips. ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS Our first encounter with the local animals was on our first excursion to the Klias Wetlands. Orions inflatable Zodiacs ferried us to a jetty, where a bumpy bus ride
Reconstruction of a traditional longhouse.

Closer to the rivers edge, we saw huge monitor lizards sunning themselves on branches... red-beaked hornbills glided over our heads.

The Borneo rainforest is the oldest in the world


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Above: Wild jungles of Borneo (Mick Fogg). Below: Orang-utan. Bottom: Diverse Marine Life

took us deep into the mangrove rainforest to catch a small speedboat into the heart of the wetlands for some primate-spotting. Proboscis monkeys are not as famous as orangutans, but they are as endangered and after spotting the males with their big bellies and droopy red noses as they gathered their harem of females, it was hard not to fall in love with them. It was heartening to see so many monkeys along the mangrove-entwined banks of the river, calling to each other and hurling themselves through the mango and hibiscus trees. Closer to the rivers edge, we saw huge monitor lizards sunning themselves on branches and high above, red-beaked hornbills glided over our heads. All these sightings made the subsequent storm-chase back to the ship more than worthwhile especially when, dripping wet, we were welcomed back on board with a vodka cocktail to calm our frazzled nerves. There was no need for nail-biting Zodiac rides at our next port when we docked at Labuan Island, a federal territory that takes its name from the Malay word for anchorage. Most of Orions passengers are Australian, so they were more familiar than us with the WW2 history of this island off the coast of Sabah. Labuan was ceded to Britain in 1846 from Brunei, before being occupied by the Japanese during the war and then liberated by the Australians on September 9, 1945. It was a poignant tour for many of the Australians, as we visited the Commonwealth war graves and wandered among the bird of paradise flowers in the Japanese peace park. Borneos history is a fascinating one and back on the main island we travelled from the town of Kudat to meet the indigenous Rungus people. They live in

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The sounds of the jungle drifted in through the slatted shutters: hoots, calls and the gentle patter of rain.
communal longhouses in northern Borneo and we saw a reconstructed one made of palm leaves and bamboo stalks at Bavanggazo and in contrast, visited a modern one in Tinagol made of MDF and iron. Local people were also on hand to welcome us at the idyllic tropical island of Pulau Mantanani. Traditional dancing, which involved jumping over moving bamboo stalks and blowing darts, took place in a small sandy clearing near the white beach. Children took us along a pebbly path to their village, where Orion provides supplies to the school, and villagers watched over smoking barbecues laden with squirrel fish as we met students from the school. The heat and humidity were intense, so a snorkel safari out to a nearby lagoon to spot purple anemone was a welcome relief as was the barbecue and beach bar. We were treated to another island stop later on in the voyage at the tiny jungle-covered Pulau Lankayan, where the house reef that surrounds it is home to rainbow-coloured parrot fish, blue starfish and even a baby blacktipped shark. It was time to return to spotting our land-dwelling wildlife and the city of Sandakan, site of a famous POW camp during WW2, was our base for several days as we headed out into the heart of the jungle. Near Sandakan is Labuk Bay, a proboscis monkey reserve on a huge palm plantation. Its a sad fact that much of Borneos rainforest has been cleared to make way for these plantations, which create palm oil for use in Western food and cosmetics. At Labuk Bay we saw our old friends the proboscis monkeys, doublebeaked hornbills and macaques who were trying to steal food from the feeding platforms. One of the highlights for many passengers was a visit to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre to observe the orangutans at the feeding stations. Set up in 1964, the largest orangutan rehab centre in the world works with orphaned orangutans (the name comes from the Malay, man of the forest) to teach them how to feed, climb and play before releasing them into the wild. It was a privilege to watch them as they ate their lunch and the visit heightened our anticipation for an overnight adventure down the Kinabatangan River.
Top: Hornbills are regular visitors to the lodge. Above: Infant silver leaf monkey, Labuk Bay (Roderick Eime). Sunset over Kinabatangan River, Sabah.


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Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, Sabah.

SOUNDS OF THE JUNGLE A speedboat took us several hours inland up the cocoa-coloured river, where jungleclad banks were home to white egrets and plenty of proboscis monkeys straddling the branches. We refuelled at a riverside restaurant, with a lunch prepared by local villagers, and sped on to our overnight lodge. Before bed an evening cruise rewarded us with more monkeys and monitor lizards, as well as a saltwater crocodile the length of our little boat, majestic crested serpent eagles and electric blue kingfishers. We went to sleep with the sounds of the jungle drifting in through the slatted shutters; hoots, calls and the gentle patter of rain. In exchange for an early start the following day we were rewarded with fantastic wildlife spotting. First a gibbon attracted our attention, then a big group of hornbills added a splash of colour to the trees, while datar birds and brahminy kites flew over
Endangered Borneo pygmy elephants play in the river. (Mick Fogg)

lakes clogged with purple water hyacinths. But we were all holding our breath for an orangutan sighting. Wed seen some orangutan nests the night before, but no movement, so when our guide pointed out a distinctive orange arm hanging from a tree we were all ecstatic and two more sightings of the gentle giants filled our hearts, and our memory cards, with joy. There had been plenty of exciting adventures along the way, but this is what wed all really wanted to see here. Borneos wildlife, alive and kicking, in the heart of the jungle. The sounds of the jungle drifted in through the slatted shutters: hoots, calls and the gentle patter of rain.

Check List:
Orion Expedition Cruises operates two Camp Leakey voyages between Bali and Singapore in October and November 2013.

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Locals from Wanam Village in Tami Islands performing the catching fish dance


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Wildin PNG
ur close neighbour, Papua New Guinea, is one of the last truly wild frontiers. To fully experience this vivid and exciting land, adventure cruising is the way to go.

Words and pictures by Roderick Eime

This story first published in Virtuoso Life Magazine

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Like fleeting shadows in the undergrowth, they moved silently and stealthily, occasionally stopping, half-hidden, to check the progress of our canoes along the narrow, mangrove-lined creek. Smeared head-to-toe with thick, dark volcanic mud and just a tiara of mangrove leaves as camouflage, they were stalking us. Through the silent swamp our mysterious followers continue to monitor our journey like the fabled masalei (forest spirits) of local legend. The heavily laden canoes glide effortlessly along the still waters, just yards from the densely wooded embankments. Now our pursuers reveal themselves in spectacular fashion. Leaping out from behind huge trees, they bring our party to a halt with incomprehensible, blood-curdling cries. From hidden vantage points within the undergrowth, saplings are hurled at us and some bounce menacingly off the side of the canoes. Gasps of alarm are clearly heard from several passengers and muffled chatter comes from others as we try to interpret their apparently hostile intentions. The traditional challenge, thankfully, is all part of the show put on for us today

Gasps of alarm are clearly heard from several passengers and muffled chatter comes from others as we try to interpret their apparently hostile intentions.

Sago extraction, Tufi

by the Tufi villagers. Once strangers would be challenged and encouraged to state their purpose whether friendly or hostile. Our passivity assumed, we are welcomed by Anthony, the local chief, dressed in the stunning costume that makes Tufi one of the most spectacular cultural experiences in Papua New Guinea. Set amid stunning tropical fjords, Tufi is only accessible by air or sea and renowned for its diving, trekking and rare orchids. For the next hour we are feted like visiting royalty, shown the convoluted process of sago extraction, ritual tattooing and treated to local ballads performed by a tiny choir of children with the voices of angels. This delightful scene sets the mood for our 11-night, seaborne exploration along Papua New Guineas remote northern coast where well make numerous such visits before swinging back to New Britain for the volcanic finale. Thank you for visiting our village, says Anthony as the experience comes to a close, please come back again soon. Once upon a time, we would be so happy to see you, wed make sure you stay we eat you up! And with that delivery he reels
Tufi child


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back in raucous laughter slapping his tummy, bright orange, betel nut-stained teeth exaggerating his mirth. Preserving and encouraging local tradition and culture are important elements of modern adventure travel, but for now Im content this once sacred ritual is discussed in the past tense. Papua New Guinea is a rugged, untamed land with an equally wild reputation. Largely devoid of roads and dotted with tiny islands, small ship cruising is the ideal method of travel. With less than one hundred passengers, some as few as 36, these perfectly appointed cruise vessels can pop in to a remote village somewhere and be gone again in a few hours without leaving a trace. Within the course of the last century, first contacts were still being made with remote tribes and cannibals continued to eat their dinner guests. Devastated by war and plundered by unscrupulous miners and governments, Papua New Guinea doesnt immediately strike one as somewhere to go for a holiday until you meet the people. Their genuine hospitality and warmth is difficult for suspicious, westernised visitors to interpret initially, but once acclimatised, their powerful generosity of spirit is penetrating. This is a land of magic and mysticism, exotic cultures and mind-boggling rituals like the convoluted (to us) Kula trade where chattels and favours are exchanged in secret and sensuous ceremonies. Just 100 miles north of the Commonwealth of Australia, Tok Pisin (Pidgin English) is the only unifying dialect among the 700-something unique languages. Visitors will find the true essence of the Melanesians along the coastal fringe between Alotua in Milne Bay all the way to the mouth of the Sepik River, PNGs longest, and across to volcano-ravaged Rabaul on New Britain. Long before the disruptive intrusion of Europeans, the ancient Papuans plied the waters of the Solomon and Bismarck Seas in large, ornate canoes, expanding their influence with trade and diplomacy. Likewise, we employ the most relevant transport for our own exploration, German-built luxury expedition yacht, MV Orion, carrying just 100 spoiled passengers in total comfort. This exclusivity, Im pleased to report, does not equate to haughty disregard for the isolated communities of Papua New Guinea. While generally happy and healthy thanks to an abundant diet of fresh vegetables and seafood, there are the privations of island life to contend with. Expedition cruisers often assist by bringing
Above: Headdress made of bird feathers, Tufi. Top: Tufi local covered in mud and charcoal to strike fear into the enemy

educational materials, books, clothing, simple medicines and first aid supplies in their luggage and refilling it again with exquisite art, carvings and souvenirs. We bid a reluctant farewell to the villagers at Tufi as the excited children scamper along the old wharf to get one more wave before we disappear. Even though we will soon be one our way, theres a feeling we will never really leave.

This is a land of magic and mysticism, exotic cultures and mindboggling rituals

Check List:
Orion Expedition Cruises operates two Papua New Guinea Cultural Highlights expeditions in March 2013. All these itineraries seamlessly incorporate an optional charter flight direct between Cairns and Rabaul.

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Frozen IN
Words and Pictures Louise Southerden
This story first published in WellBeing magazine, August 2011.

n the eve of the centenary of Douglas Mawsons expedition to East Antarctica, Louise Southerden voyages to the ice, from New Zealand, and back in time.
Antarctica, the White Continent.


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Ice on the starboard bow! At 4pm on 29 December, 1911, the steamship Aurora passed its first iceberg since leaving Hobart a few weeks earlier. On board were Douglas Mawson and the men of his Australasian Antarctic Expedition, en route to explore a previously uncharted part of Antarctica due south of Australia. They soon found themselves within a puzzle of pack ice, which settled the mountainous seas theyd had on the journey south and transfixed the men on deck. The tranquillity of the water heightened the superb effects of this glacial world, wrote Mawson in his 1915 account of the expedition, The Home of the Blizzard. Majestic tabular bergs whose crevices exhaled a vaporous azure; lofty spires, radiant turrets and splendid castles; honeycombed masses illumined by pale green light within whose fairy labyrinths the water washed and gurgled. Seals and penguins on magic gondolas were the silent denizens of this dreamy Venice. In the soft glamour of the midsummer midnight sun, we were possessed by a rapturous wonder the rare thrill of unreality. A hundred years later, this ice-world inspires the same sense of wonder and is just as irresistible. The rest of the planet may be known, mapped and settled but Antarctica remains a land apart: pure and unblemished, wild and intimidating, a place where nothing is guaranteed and anything can happen. Its a misty December afternoon when we leave Dunedin, on New Zealands South Island, aboard the Orion, a ship twice as long and infinitely more comfortable than Aurora (a 50-metre steam-yacht built in Scotland for whaling expeditions to Newfoundland). But our destination is the same as Mawsons: Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay.

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Above Guests witnessing icebergs pass by on Orions bow. Right Lunch on the aft deck with view of Macquarie Island

There are three distinct regions in Antarctica. The mountainous Antarctic Peninsula is the most accessible, being only two days by sea from the tip of South America. Its also the most visited, receiving more than 36,000 tourists every summer. Then theres the Ross Sea, where youll find the largest Antarctic base, McMurdo Station (home to more than 1200 people in summer), Scotts and Shackletons historic huts, the worlds most southerly active volcano (Mt Erebus) and the Ross Ice Shelf, a floating ice barrier as large as France that periodically calves to create mega-icebergs up to 300 kilometres long. The largest and most remote region is East Antarctica. This far side of Antarctica makes up two-thirds of the continent, is separated from the other regions by the Transantarctic Mountains and includes the geographic and magnetic South Poles. Its also at least five sea days, about 2700 kilometres, south of Australia and New Zealand. Last summer, only 242 people visited Commonwealth Bay, one of its most popular spots. Why so few? Because its so far and so defended by pack-ice that you might go all that way and still not reach the continent or be able to get ashore. But thats part of the adventure. South across the Southern Ocean Before this trip, spending five consecutive days on the open ocean seemed a daunting prospect. But crossing the Southern Ocean turns out to be a highlight of the trip. It helps that my seasickness medication works and the sea plays nice: even in the Furious Fifties and the Screaming Sixties, latitudes notorious for rough weather, the swell is a moderate three to four metres perhaps because 56 of us Antarctic virgins had placated King Neptune on the way by letting our expedition

It helps that my seasickness medication works and the sea plays nice: even in the Furious Fifties and the Screaming Sixties...


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leader, Don McIntyre, hose us down with near-freezing sea water. Were also travelling aboard the Orion, surely the most luxurious ice-strengthened expedition vessel in these waters. Its beautifully appointed 53 staterooms (some with balconies) can accommodate up to 106 passengers though there are only 96 on our trip, attended to by a crew of 82. Theres 24-hour room service, a gym and health spa, a sauna, a lecture theatre (lectures, movies and documentaries are screened on each staterooms TV too) and silver service dining in the restaurant, where stemless wine glasses, rubber anti-slide mats on the linen tablecloths and chairs that can be chained to the floor remind us where we are. Lovely as life is indoors, its impossible to resist the pull of all that ocean. Before breakfast, between lectures, after dinner, every chance we get, were out on deck to watch
Adelie in the Zodiac.

dolphins leaping out of blue waves while prions and cape petrels and wandering albatross skim the crests of the waves with their wingtips. Eventually were so far from land, even the seabirds disappear and I become acutely aware of our isolation. We are an island of comfort in this vast, watery wilderness, as physically alone as Mawson was. Antarktos As we make our way south, the days become longer, and colder. By our fourth sea day, the air temperature is zero and theres snow on the deck when we step outside

For all Ive read and heard about Antarctica, its unlike any other place on Earth, even the Arctic.

to watch humpback whales come up for breaths between ice floes. Snow petrels circle the ship, a sign that were close. The next morning, soon after crossing the Antarctic Circle, we see the northern edge of the Antarctic continent: an ice-cliff with a sloping brow filling the southern horizon. It seems impossibly vast. The geographic South Pole is still, incredibly, 2630 kilometres further south, across all that ice some of it four kilometres thick. For all Ive read and heard about Antarctica, its unlike any other place on Earth, even the Arctic. In fact, when the Greeks imagined a southern pole star to match the northern one they called Arktos (the bear), they named it Antarktos, the opposite of the Arctic. It makes sense: the Arctic is a sea surrounded by land, the Antarctic (as the unknown southern land came to be known) is a land mass surrounded by sea. Not that you can see any land; 99 per cent of Antarctica is permanently covered by snow and ice. Cape Denison, a rocky point in the middle of Commonwealth Bay, is an anomaly, one that, by fate or good fortune, Mawson found only after cruising the ice-cliffs for weeks. Unlike Mawson, we know where to go but even with our 21st-century navigational gadgetry, satellite imaging and an ice master on the bridge, Orion is at the mercy of the pack ice as much as Aurora was. Fortune smiles upon us too, though. The ice magically parts and we anchor safely off Cape Denison, just as Mawson did in January 1912. The sun shone gloriously in a blue sky as we stepped ashore on a charming ice-quay the first to set foot on the Antarctic continent between Cape Adare and Gaussberg, a distance of about two thousand miles. Close to the Boat Harbour, as

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we called it, was suitable ground for the erection of a hut For supplies of fresh meat, in the emergency of being marooned for a number of years, there were many Weddell seals at hand, and on almost all the neighbouring ridges colonies of penguins were busy rearing their young So it came about that the Main Base was finally settled at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay. Home of the blizzard The two days were there, Commonwealth Bay is eerily calm, belying the fact that this is the windiest place on Earth. For the features that made Cape Denison ideal for the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (its ice-free harbour and exposed rock) owe their existence to fierce katabatic winds that blow down off the polar plateau, at speeds of up to 320km/h as Mawson soon discovered. The climate proved to be little more than one continuous blizzard the year round; a hurricane of wind roaring for weeks together, pausing for breath only at odd hours Stepping out of the shelter of the Hut, one was apt to be immediately hurled at full length downwind. Even without a blizzard, stepping onto the ice for the first time is exhilarating. This is Australias Antarctic territory, but Cape Denison really belongs to the Adelie penguins that still nest here in their thousands every summer. Theyre everywhere: on every rocky promontory, sliding on their bellies down snowy slopes, porpoising through the water, even walking with us as we wander. Climbing a rocky ridge on one side of Cape Denisons small snowy valley, we side-step nesting Adelies (named by French explorer Dumont dUrville after his wife) to reach the memorial cross erected in 1913 for Belgrave Ninnis and Xavier Mertz, killed on a sledging journey with Mawson in early 1913. Back at sea level, we walk around weddell seals lying like slugs on the ice to look at three small huts, in various states of disrepair, used by Mawsons team to take magnetic readings. But the main event, and the most significant site in Australias Antarctic history, is whats now called Mawsons Hut. Mawsons museum Mawsons men had little or no building experience, but Australias first scientific base, made of pre-cut planks of oregon clad in Baltic pine, is in remarkably good condition 100 years on thanks to its sturdy and simple design, the snow packed around it, the cold, dry air that has preserved its timbers, and the efforts of Mawsons
Inside Mawsons Hut the living room. Ramp into Mawsons Hut, Cape Denison.

my fellow passengers in their red jackets could be Mawsons men preparing for sledging trips


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Mawsons Hut and a few of the 242 tourists who visit each year, Cape Denison.

Huts Foundation, which was set up in 1996 to conserve the hut and its surrounds. With chain-crampons over our gumboots to stop us slipping on the icy floor, we step inside and back to 1912-13. This is one of the purest museums you will ever see, with many of the things Mawson and his men used still here, in situ, literally frozen in time, making pictures in your head about how they lived. There are books such as The Hound of the Baskervilles, To Pleasure Madame and Nautical Almanac 1913, sparkly with hoar frost. There are cans of cocoa, tins of Bovril, Eiffel matches, the old stove where the men would have warmed themselves after venturing outside, photographer Frank Hurleys darkroom where he scrawled on the wall Near enough is not good enough. (Hurley came to Antarctica with Mawson before joining Shackletons legendary 1914-1916 expedition.) Stepping outside again, I find a quiet rock with a view to sit and take in this place the constant burring of Adelies, a Wilsons storm petrel flitting over the rocks, softly falling snow. Just offshore lie the snow-caked Mackellar islands, dozens of
A genuine Antarctic postcard at Cape Denison.

rock islets named by Mawson after a patron of the expedition. Either side are John OGroats and Lands End, the eastern and western limits of Mawsons home away from home treacherous ice-cliffs where one slip would mean instant death, as Don McIntyre puts it. Its all exactly as it would have been when Mawson was here: the penguins and seals still come every summer; my fellow passengers in their red jackets could be Mawsons men preparing for sledging trips; our black Zodiacs could be whale-boats ferrying supplies in from the Aurora, anchored offshore where the Orion is today.

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Macquarie: then and now Too soon, were heading north again, but one of the advantages of visiting this part of Antarctica is the chance to stop at Macquarie Island, which Mawson famously called one of the wonder spots of the world. Leaping out of the water in scores around us were penguins of several varieties, he wrote in The Home of the Blizzard. Penguins were in thousands on the uprising cliffs, and from rookeries near and far came an incessant din. At intervals along the shore seaelephants [elephant seals] disported their ungainly masses in the sunlight. Circling above us in anxious haste, sea-birds gave warning of our near approach to their nests. It was the invasion by man of an exquisite scene of primitive nature. In fact, man had invaded Macquarie long before Mawson arrived. Within 10 years of sealing captain Frederick Hasselborough discovering the island in 1810 and naming it for Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales, its 200,000 fur seals had been hunted to extinction and its 100,000 southern elephant seals had almost been wiped out too. Then New Zealander Joseph Hatch established a penguin-oil industry: up to 2000 royal penguins at a time were steamed in purpose-built digesters, yielding about half a litre of oil per animal. Mawson was instrumental in stopping the exploitation of animals on Macquarie, in 1919. The island was proclaimed a wildlife sanctuary in 1933 and a nature reserve in 1971, and was World Heritage listed in 1997. All of which means that this long, ruggedly handsome island actually an uplifted undersea mountain range has recovered considerably in the 100 years since Mawson was here. Landing at the islands northern end, were greeted by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service rangers, our guides for the day. Everywhere we walk, we see thousands of king and royal penguins (which Mawson called picturesque little fellows, with a crest and eyebrows of long golden-yellow feathers) promenading along the black-sand beaches like well-dressed gentlemen. (There are as many as four million penguins on the island now kings, royals, gentoos and rockhoppers.) Skuas and giant petrels soar overhead. Great boulders of flesh dot the landscape: elephant seals, weighing up to four tonnes, which now number about 90,000. And the grassy hills are alive with penguin cities one royal rookery we visit has about 13,000 nesting pairs and rabbits, introduced by sealers for food and responsible for extensive environmental damage. (Their days are numbered, however: a fiveyear, $25 million rabbit-eradication program began in April 2011). A swell return Leaving Macquarie feels like the end of the trip but were still three sea days from Dunedin, and the Southern Ocean isnt about to let us go lightly. The swell builds all day until, that night, it peaks at 10 metres. At dinner, we hold onto our plates and glasses as the ship rolls, and watch the windows of the dining room submerge, like the doors of front-loading washing machines on the rinse cycle. After dessert, a few of us put on our wet weather gear and stand at the stern railing watching a procession of monster waves chasing us, the 50-knot winds blowing rain squalls and salt spray in our faces until two waves catch up to the ship, a wall of water descends and washes over the deck and we retreat inside. Safely in our beds later, it feels as if the sea is breathing deeply under us.
Top Walking at Buckles Bay, Macquarie Island. Above Human, king penguins, elephant seals and Macquarie Island research station.

Great boulders of flesh dot the landscape: elephant seals, weighing up to four tonnes, which now number about 90,000.


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Our last stop is another World Heritage-listed subantarctic island: Campbell. Although gale-force winds prevent us from going ashore, our Zodiac cruise along

How strange it must have felt. To me, even tiny Dunedin seems busy after less than three weeks at sea.

the protected eastern cliffs, in the company of mermaiding New Zealand fur seals, is spectacular, not least for the mercurial weather conditions. Cue the rain squalls! Now some sunshine! Thirty-knot gusts tear the white caps off the dancing water and hurl them at us until were rewarded with a rainbow and the sun momentarily spotlights thousands of nesting albatross on the high cliffs above. After another sea day, and smooth seas again, we cruise back into Dunedins long harbour. When Mawson returned to Adelaide and the known world, in February 1914, after two long years on the ice, he marvelled at the tree-clad shores and the smoke of many steamers and said, The welcome home the voice of the innumerable strangers the hand-grips of many friends it chokes one it cannot be uttered. How strange it must have felt. To me, even tiny Dunedin seems busy after less than three weeks at sea. But following his wake, landing where he did, stepping inside the hut he and his men shared through blizzardly conditions, seeing the icy environment that took the lives of some of them and almost killed Mawson himself its history in motion, the past in the present, and our journey to Antarctica has been all the richer for it.
Louise Southerden recently won the Australian Society of Travel Writers 2012 Travel Writer of the Year award for a portfolio of three travel stories, one of which was this story on her voyage to East Antarctica with Orion Expedition Cruises.

Left Sparring elephant seals, Sandy Bay, Macquarie Island. Below King penguins and old research shack, Sandy Bay, Macquarie Island.

Check List:
Orion Expedition Cruises Antarctic expeditions also visit the subantarctic Islands. You can follow in the footsteps of Sir Douglas Mawson in January 2014 with voyages departing Dunedin.

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Stephen Scourfield
This story first published in The West Australian Images: BOB FOWLER & NICK RAINS

Kimberley COLOUR
t has been a day of colour. Not colour in one, overpowering sense, but colour shifting every minute.
This morning it was milky and blue, moist and windy cool, damp but with the promise of heat. It was platinum and squid ink. It was steel thats been heated and dipped in cold water. It was dark, childhood cupboardunder-the-stairs and the sterling glint of silverware in church. It was the ocean as tones of every-grey with wind moving it around. Light shafting down, god-like (whatever god), throwing silver on a patch of ocean. A random, pointless spot of ocean. And that was the point. It was inky ocean and lustrous splashes; it was sparkling fish gills and their dead, dark eyes. That was this morning on Montgomery Reef, a bizarre 400 square kilometres of sandstone that appears from the ocean as the tide recedes. Imagine that. Particularly on this day, with the moon and sun locked in some tug-of-love over our lush green-and-blue jewel planet, when the tide line is pushed from dark and muddy, mussel-spangled rocks to the red hues of the Kimberley sandstone that was laid down 200 million years ago, crushed, heated, melded over those millennia, up to 5km under the surface of an ocean that deserted it and left it dried, baked by the sun, with ocean-bottom ripples kilned into it. At 2am the reef was covered by nearly 7m of this bisquey sea, but now it is draining off in gentle waterfalls that tinkle like broken glass, jet in streams, and bring bursts of tiny fish (hoping for freedom) to the white egrets standing alongside. Waiting for the easy prey that comes after each tide. (For the supermarket to open.) At 2am you couldnt have seen it, but now, not much more than five hours later, it is a picturesque cascade, laid on for us, in our rubber Zodiacs, away from the MV Orion for a dip into natures bazaar. The Montgomery Reef of the Kimberley coast; what David Attenborough once said should be described as the Eighth Wonder of the World. We troll around up what they call The River, as the reef drains and green turtles stick up their beaky faces to breath, and then the wind dies a little and we are away in soupy, more-blue water, and the frothy tops look the white of altar-boy collars. I feel completely saturated by the place, the environment, the natural

The striking Kimberley colours

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stupendousness of it, and of our natural part in it as complex fauna organisms, part of natural systems and no more. (And then I hold a digital camera up and it questions that little notion.) By the time we are back at the ship, the day has changed. Brunch is served a massive brunch of everything-eggs, cooked for you, pork roast and cold meats. A wonderful, wonderful spread of everything humans can conjure up. But it is surrounded by put in context by the turquoise that is now beginning to surround it. For, at 10am, the sun is breaking through. It is patchy at first. Some of the ocean is dark, and some of it milky-turquoise, so you might think that some is deep and some shallow. You might think that we are in dangerous waters that there is both sand in the shallows and deep rocks. But thats not the case. It is cloud holding back the broad sunshine and letting it through, and the sky matches it with both china blue and white and then the milky cusp of sky-through-cloud in between. (It is a changeable moment, when either the clear-blue or the clouds might win, but I know the former is true.) And then, bang, the sun has won, and laid on an opaque, greenish-blue world, flat to the horizon. But even these are not the best of the colour-changes of today. After our exploration of Montgomery Reef, and my agreement with Sir David, Captain Mike Taylor moves the Orion 10 nautical miles to anchor off Raft Point, a dominating Kimberley sandstone bluff. The other side of us is Steep Island, an equally sharp feature which fights for the eyes attention, and between it all, water so that salty that it seems to run an electrical charge. When we anchor, Raft Point looks somewhat benign. Beige and tan with dark clefts of shadow that hold promise. By 2.15pm, when we board Zodiacs to head to shore and Raft Points art site the colours had shifted again, to a raw, baked red, resonating colour. It isnt hot today, but the rock knows heat and it knows it over millions of years. We land on the sand and shingle beach, walk past a clump of personable boab trees that could be a family with all its foibles, and climb a green gulley chorusing several species of honeyeaters and the whir of rainbow honeyeaters. By the time we get to the art site, it is overcast. Around the mouthless heads of the Wandjinas are clouds. They control the clouds and the lightning. They are happy we are here, says one of Orions guides, They have laid on some cloud for us. We sit and appreciate the moments and the images - an art site full of Wandjinas and dugong (with their whiskers), fish and snakes. And yams. Tales both spiritual and practical. What we believe; what we eat. Connections. The Wandjina spirits, which traditional Aboriginal people here believe created life and the land, and even the features of it, and control and bring the wet season with its crucial rains, and gave instruction on how to live. And then the sun bursts out. Thats it, says the expedition crew guide, they have had enough of us; we have had our moment and its time to go. And we do. We walk down again and there, at the bottom, is a Chinese-Malay man who has injured his right leg and been waiting on the beach for his wife who has walked and rock-hopped the half-hour up to the art site. On either side, the beach is flanked by rock faces. As you look out to the nowlanguid sea, by the macho Raft Point itself to the right, and by a big rock wall to the left.
Guests enjoying the spray of King George Falls Wandjina Rock Art at Raft Point. The famous Kimberley sunset.


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Zodiac safari up King George River

Time passed so quickly, he says, in no time. He briefly describes the light on the rock face. One minute it was dark and ominous. The next it was bright and cheerful. And as we board the Zodiacs and fumble with our bags, I look up and see that behind the young Filipino man bracing the outboards throttle grip, the rock face has fired up to a rosy farewell. It looks fairground-happy. I snap a couple of pictures. (Its cant-go-wrong stuff) And as we pass Raft Point itself, I see the same. That old phrase picture perfect rings in my head, and there it is, manifested before me. Picture Perfect indeed. Its point-and-shoot stuff. The days colour has run the gambit of emotions (make em laugh, make em cry, pick em up, knock em down), and I head to my cabin to let it all settle not just in my head, but in all the jangling cells of my body. But then the ship swings a little on her anchor and there, outside the slide door and narrow balcony, Steep Island presents itself like a cut of fresh steak. My goodness, the rawness of that colour could make anyone grab a camera or a paint palette. And I step out and see Raft Point is doing the same. (Anything you can do, I can do better.) The two of them out there together, facing off, pulsing, having a bit of macho fun. And then the sun dips to the horizon, in a flashy, bloody, dot, and vanishes, and all thats left is a murky purple, a memory of amber. And I feel awash, drained and washed out by the kaleidoscopic day.

Check List:
Orions Kimberley Expeditions operate between April and September in 2013. They include a scenic flight over the Bungle Bungle Ranges.

Booby on the fly.

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Zodiacs exploring the Russian Far East.


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Exotic Isles of Fog and Vodka

Words and Pictures John Borthwick
First published in The Sunday Telegraph and

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Above Tyuleny Island is home to thousands of northern seals and Steller sea lions. Right Orion II at Atlasova Island, Kuril islands. Alaid volcano behind.

heres no such thing as bad weather. Just travellers badly dressed for the weather,says the expedition leader as our rubber Zodiac boat skims over the low swell.

It is mid summer in the ultra-remote Kuril Islands of far eastern Russia, which means near-zero temperatures and me wearing 18 items of clothing including gumboots and a bank-robber balaclava. Our surroundings are volcanic peaks, kelp beds and glittering fog banks. Sea otters casually float nearby on their backs. Another Zodiac radios to us, swearing they see a supine otter thats clutching an empty vodka bottle to its chest. Too Russian to be true? I dont believe it until, back on our ship, Orion II, I see the photo of this would-be blotto otter. You might call the Kurils an archipelago of fog and vodka Soviet exiles here would have needed plenty of the latter to endure the former. The chain of 56 largely uninhabited islands stretches over 1000 km north from Hokkaido, Japan to Russias Kamchatka Peninsula. Home to 100 volcanoes (40 of them active) and endless wildlife, the islands are also dotted with the ruins of gulag prisons and secret bases. More people have probably seen the summit of Everest than have visited some of these islands, suggests Wayne Brown, one of our naturalist guides. Weve sailed from Otaru in Hokkaido to explore the Kurils, expedition-style, going ashore daily in


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Orion II in Atlasova.

Zodiacs to look for fur seal rookeries, old settlements and prolific bird colonies. Its a sunny day as we first land at Urup Island. Emerald hillsides tilt up to a volcanos snowline. Two Russian fishermen working at salmon-salting greet us, their first visitors for months. Moments later hundreds of stinging midges attack us which explains well the islands lack of visitors. The Kuril Islands were originally inhabited by Ainu aboriginals who were displaced during centuries of territorial tug o war between Russia and Japan. On Shumshu, the most northerly island, the two nations continued to fight for three months beyond the official end of World War II. Russia then occupied the four southernmost islands, Japanese territory, and seems determined to never relinquish them. Among our ships mostly Australian passengers is a lively contingent of 20 Japanese keen to see the islands that were once Japans. The seas are calm as our Zodiacs range around the twin Chirpoy (small bird) Islands until we come upon a haul-out of Steller sea lions, the worlds largest sea lions. Weighing as much as 1000 kg these giants loll, sunbaking on a high rock ledge until several of them launch into the sea with the worlds largest bellyflops. A new day, a new island. Our boats surf through a gap in the ancient crater rim of Yankicha Island and we find ourselves on a lagoon ringed by forested walls and a jagged skyline. This gothic caldera could be a wind-chilled Bora Bora or, equally, the site of some sinister installation where Bond and Goldfinger might duel to the death. We come ashore on a beach of hot springs and steaming mud. A crewman digs a trench in the sand that soon fills with water and, after peeling off multiple layers of clothing, I slip into an extreme spa, Ainu-style near-boiling water, nearfreezing air. Meantime, a small black Arctic fox, entirely unafraid of humans, comes sniffing around, inspecting these strange aliens whove invaded his island. On our way back to the ship we spot a colony of very rare whiskered auklets four long,

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Koryak dancers with reindeer skin clothes

Expedition cruising is like a series of haiku poems one perfect moment captured in time,
white, whisker-like feathers radiate from their dark faces. Serious birdwatchers search for years in other regions just to glimpse one of these, says our Russian guide Sergey, And here they are by the hundreds. Our northernmost destination is Kamchatkas Zhupanova River, one of the most trout-rich waterways in the world and also home to the Stellers sea eagle, the heaviest of all eagles. One of these white giants obligingly alights in a tree and spreads its wings, seemingly two metres wide. The only local that can trump this spectacle is the brown bear and, in luck, we track a large one as it pads along the shoreline. We dock at Kamchatkas capital, Petropavlovsk where about half the ships passengers head to a sled dog farm. Here we check out teams of blue-eyed Siberian huskies plus a troupe of curvaceous, gyrating Koryak dancers, followed by a lunch that features unlimited servings of succulent, fresh salmon roe and good vodka. Meanwhile, the other passengers stump up $1000 each for a spectacular helicopter daytrip to a World Heritage geothermal wonderland, the Valley of the Geysers or,


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according one cheeky traveller (who cant afford the trip), the Valley of the Old Geezers. Cruising is no longer for the newly wed, the over-fed and nearly dead, is the cruising industrys unofficial slogan. Were on the inaugural cruise in Asian waters of Orion II, the sister ship to the highly-acclaimed, Australian-owned Orion. Our time on the luxurious vessel capacity 100 guests certainly isnt all about bird watching and beach landings. For instance, Chef Lothar Greiners meals are a constant gauntlet of temptations. Resistance is futile. Veal tenderloin, caviar, black cod, tempura, salads, sorbets and crme brulee and that is just one nights degustation menu. Resting between feasts and shore excursions we can chose from expert lectures on Kuril history, exploration and wildlife. Or just snooze and cruise in our fine staterooms. Expedition cruising is like a series of haiku poems one perfect moment captured in time, reckons Orion IIs affable Irish captain, Mike Taylor. Our first sight of the Fuji-like cone of Alaid volcano on Atlasova Island is such a moment. The snowcapped 2,339-metre peak, the highest in the Kurils, looks down on grasslands where we find the ruins of a Stalin-era prison for female political prisoners. If summer here is a time of brief, sunwarmed calm, the rest of the year must have been a snap-frozen hell, worsened by the threat of Alaid spitting its volcanic dummy as it did periodically. Cormorants, gulls and murres litter the air. Curious fur seals buzz our Zodiacs. By way of sombre contrast, the Ainu knew our next island as Matua, or hell mouth, thanks to its thermal and volcanic hyperactivity. We splash ashore as its fog and mists lift to reveal a lush island scattered with abandoned Soviet bunkers, anti-aircraft guns, helmets and half-tracks. Theres more of the same at our next landing but on a huge scale. On Simushir Island the empty dormitories, Lenin murals, cinemas and crumbling workshops speak of the 5000 Soviet personnel who inhabited then, in the early 1990s, abandoned this farthest Eurasian outpost of Moscows bankrupt empire. We cross the Sea of Okhotsk to Sakhalin Island for our final excursion, to the tiny, treeless outcrop of Tyuleny. Thronged with 150,000 noisy northern fur seals,
Arctic Fox

hundreds of Steller sea lions and millions of black and white murres, it is like a mad, marine Noahs Ark. Brawling, braying bull seals, squirming pups and dinning birds crowd almost every inch of the cliffs and shoreline. Tyuleny is a wildlife research station and from its walkways and observation hides we are able to photograph close-up this fantastic melee an extraordinary finale to an extraordinary voyage.

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Orions Expedition Team Member Mark Christensen and Donny Woolagoodja from Wandjina Tours

By Stephen Scourfield
This story originally published in The Weekend West, 12 November 2011


arry crouches slightly and holds up his hands, fingers spread, like a criminal caught in a police spotlight. He looks up, his face framed by a dinner-plate beard, and flicks his open-wide eyes from side to side.


Im a goby girl, in a goby world he sings, acting startled, acting up. Harry loves just about everything in the water, but he really loves gobies. These are great little fish, he enthuses. And I mean enthuses. They can change sex multiple times They can use their pectoral fins like feet

and walk along They can adhere to pieces of coral They have an incredible amount of flexibility Harrys brilliant. He has a genuine enthusiasm and the ability to communicate that thrill. He conjures up the image of both a bug-eyed, cross-dressing fish and a super-specialist creature, all with a bit of theatre and few pearls of wisdom thrown Harrys real name is Mark Christensen, but one simply cant imagine anyone knowing or caring about that. To all and sundry, hes Harry scraggy-bearded, unmade-bed-looking, croc-footed, lovable, inspiring Harry. He is a marine biologist and for 14 years worked in the tourism industry, drawing up educational programs for the Kimberley, Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait. There, he helped set up Poruma Island Resort on Coconut Island. Establishing


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tourism on this a small coral cay was to bring sustainable employment for Aboriginals, whom Harry recruited and trained. He also worked for many years with

He has a genuine enthusiasm and the ability to communicate that thrill... with a bit of theatre and few pearls of wisdom thrown in.

guests on Lizard Island off Queensland. He joined Orion Expedition Cruises in 2005, and has worked for many seasons in the Kimberley as a guide and expedition leader on its original ship, Orion, then later on Orion II where Harry clearly revelled in the new environment. In his talk on the reef fish, during the expedition cruise ships voyage Across the Wallace Line, he has enthused us all about damsel, parrot, surgeon, butterfly, cardinal and angel fish, the wrasses, cods and trouts, and the blennies and, yes, the gobies, we will see this afternoon in several splendid hours of snorkelling over coral and a drop-off into the deep blue off Kakaban Island. The voyage in South-East Asia leaves Sabah to head down the Makassar Strait between Borneo and Sulawesi, pretty well directly north of York (no, not Cape York), past Bali, where the voyage ends. Harrys quite a character, but hes joined by specialist bird watcher Chris Harbard, who has flown out (in an aircraft) from near Cambridge, England, to share his knowledge and good company, and Kit van Wagner, an American and enthusiastic marine science educator. They make a formidable, amiable and knowledgeable team under expedition leader and marine biologist Mick Fogg. Each gives entertaining lectures, with guests leaving the comfortable lounge infused painlessly with knowledge. Kim brings mangroves alive, Mick delves into Indo-Pacific coral reef biology and Chris covers the birds of Borneo, with its 633 species. Kingfishers, sunbirds, spiderhunters, trogons, pittas, broadbills, bee-eaters he brings them all alive. But when he gets to the hornbills, he tells how females wall themselves into a nest in a tree for up to four months. Incredible, he says, staring at the picture of one on the screen, just for a second as if he were there himself, in the forest, looking at it through the precious Swarovski binoculars that he so often wears around his neck. Chris, one can clearly see, has his favourites too. But, back to gobies. Harry is again wide-eyed, telling us how these little fish have big eyes in the top of their head, so they can see danger. They often live with a blind shrimp. Harry raises his eyebrows and rolls his own eyes. But then he drops into marine science, explaining that the shrimp might be blind but its a big excavator, and the goby is good at spotting danger. The shrimp does the earthworks, and the gobys tail stays connected to the antenna of the shrimp. If theres any sign of danger, the goby flicks its tail and they both go down the hole. Quick smart. In a symbiotic relationship, they share the hole. But then Harry gets that impish grin back. Of course, I dont know what else they get up to in there Another goby pearl in his goby world.

Mark at the Orang-utan Infant Care Centre.

Check List:
The specialist expedition team, typically experts in the disciplines of history, botany, marine biology, geology and wildlife, accompany each voyage, changing as required to provide local knowledge specific to the destination. Together, supported by guest lecturers, they provide a wealth of expertise which they share to expand guests knowledge, enhancing the experience.

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DEPT. DATE 18-Apr-13 28-Apr-13 8-May-13 18-May-13 28-May-13 7-Jun-13 17-Jun-13 27-Jun-13 7-Jul-13 17-Jul-13 27-Jul-13 6-Aug-13 16-Aug-13 26-Aug-13 5-Sep-13 15-Sep-13 29-Sep-13 9-Oct-13 15-Oct-13 25-Oct-13 4-Nov-13 18-Nov-13 28-Nov-13 8-Dec-13 13-Dec-13 20-Dec-13 3-Jan-14 17-Jan-14 7-Feb-14 28-Feb-14 NTS EXPEDITION 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 14 10 6 10 10 14 10 10 5 7 14 14 21 21 14 Kimberley Expedition Kimberley Expedition Kimberley Expedition Kimberley Expedition Kimberley Expedition Kimberley Expedition Kimberley Expedition Kimberley Expedition Kimberley Expedition Kimberley Expedition Kimberley Expedition Kimberley Expedition Art of the Kimberley Kimberley Expedition Kimberley Expedition Kimberley with Spice Voyage of Discovery Borneo Discovery Private Charter Private Charter Camp Leakey Faces in the Forest Dry Dock Camp Leakey Faces in the Forest Forgotten Islands Photography Great Barrier Reef & Islands - Food & Wine Tasman Discoverer Food & Wine Exploration of the Antipodes New Zealand & SubAntarctic Exploration Scott & Shackletons Antarctica - Ross Sea Scott & Shackleton's Antarctica - Ross Sea DARWIN, Com*, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), King George River & Falls, Vansittart Bay, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, BROOME BROOME, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Vansittart Bay, King George River & Falls, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), Com*, DARWIN DARWIN, Com*, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), King George River & Falls, Vansittart Bay, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, BROOME BROOME, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Vansittart Bay, King George River & Falls, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), Com*, DARWIN DARWIN, Com*, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), King George River & Falls, Vansittart Bay, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, BROOME BROOME, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Vansittart Bay, King George River & Falls, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), Com*, DARWIN DARWIN, Com*, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), King George River & Falls, Vansittart Bay, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, BROOME BROOME, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Vansittart Bay, King George River & Falls, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), Com*, DARWIN DARWIN, Com*, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), King George River & Falls, Vansittart Bay, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, BROOME BROOME, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Vansittart Bay, King George River & Falls, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), Com*, DARWIN DARWIN, Com*, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), King George River & Falls, Vansittart Bay, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, BROOME BROOME, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Vansittart Bay, King George River & Falls, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), Com*, DARWIN DARWIN, Com*, Wyndham (for Warringarri Art Centre, Warmun Art Centre, Bungle Bungles or Ord River) (overnight onboard), King George River & Falls, Vansittart Bay, Bigge Island, Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Nares Point, Crocodile creek, BROOME BROOME, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Vansittart Bay, King George River & Falls, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), Com*, DARWIN DARWIN, Com*, Kununurra (for included Bungle Bungles flight), King George River & Falls, Vansittart Bay, Hunter River (optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls), Montgomery Reef/Raft Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, BROOME BROOME, Nares Point, Crocodile Creek, Montgomery Reef, Raft Point, Kuri Bay, Bigge Island, Montelavit Islands, King George River & Falls, Semau, Savu, West Sumba, Komodo, Satonda, Kananga, Badas, BALI BALI, Semarang (for Borobudur), Tanjung Puting National Park (for Camp Leakey) (overnight onboard), Pare Pare (for overnight land trip to Tana Toraja), BALI BALI to SINGAPORE SINGAPORE to BALI BALI, Tanjung Puting National Park (for Camp Leakey) (overnight onboard), Kuching (for Semenggoh Rehabilitation Centre), Bako National Park, Natuna Archipelago, Anambas Archipelago, SINGAPORE SINGAPORE SINGAPORE, Anambas Archipelago, Natuna Archipelago, Kuching (for Semenggoh Rehabilitation Centre) (overnight onboard), Bako National Park, Tanjung Puting National Park (for Camp Leakey) (overnight onboard), BALI BALI, Komodo (overnight onboard), Kisar, Sangliat Dol, Weluan Beach, Thursday Island, Orion Reef, CAIRNS CAIRNS, Hardy Reef, Hamilton Island, Percy Island, Lady Elliott Island, BRISBANE BRISBANE, Norfolk Island, Russell (Bay of Islands), Roberton Island (Bay of Islands), AUCKLAND AUCKLAND, Chatham Islands, Bounty Islands, The Antipodes, Campbell Island, Macquarie Island, Auckland Islands, DUNEDIN DUNEDIN Snares Island, Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound, Dusky Sound, Stewart Island, Auckland Islands, Campbell Island, Akaroa, Kaikoura, Marlborough Sounds, Picton, DUNEDIN DUNEDIN, Auckland Islands, Macquarie Island, Ross Sea Region, Campbell Island, DUNEDIN DUNEDIN, Auckland Islands, Macquarie Island, Ross Sea Region, Campbell Island, DUNEDIN

Macquarie Island & NZ DUNEDIN, Milford Sound, Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound, Stewart Island, Snares Island, Auckland Islands, Campbell Island, Macquarie Sub-Antarctic Wildlife Island (overnight onboard), LYTTELTON (for Christchurch) Adventure Past guests receive an additional 5% saving.

A combination reward of 5% is available for any 2 or more consecutive voyages. Expeditions marked with a plus symbol are ideal for back to back sailings.

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