I am sitting in Dubai, waiting to catch my flight back home. Looking out of the airport window, the sandy landscape blurs with the skyline, dissipated by the high temperatures outside. It’s the antithesis of where I’ll be in one week’s time. Instead of blistering heat, the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014 will be departing from the Invercargill port of Bluff in southern New Zealand for the start of a six week voyage which we hope will culminate in reaching a frozen time capsule: Sir Douglas Mawson’s original expedition base at Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica. Two years of planning are finally coming to fruition. Two years of planning for a major science expedition; two years of putting together the best possible team and all the interviews, training, meetings, form filling, and equipment purchases and hire that go with it. Choices we made months ago are now committed. Only time will tell if we made the correct ones.
To be honest, the last few months have been a bit of a blur. Chris and I had hoped the collection of the container from UNSW several weeks ago would have meant things might have let up just a little bit. Instead, the opposite happened. Last minute negotiations – which I’ve learnt requires an extraordinary amount of patience – along with advertising and final allocation of berths have effortlessly filled what little time we had. So much so that Chris and I have been in different parts of the world, chasing down the last final things. I’ve been in Australia and the UK; Chris in New Zealand. Daily phone calls have helped keep everything moving while the email count continues its inexorable rise.
The last week has been particularly dizzying. While in the UK I have been meeting all sorts of groups, all offering fantastically exciting ways to help us communicate our discoveries back to civilisation. On Tuesday I met with The Guardian, learning about the web-based platform they will be will using to deliver interactive, multimedia reports during the second leg of the expedition. On Wednesday I was at the BBC, giving interviews on the expedition for the World Service and Radio 4. And yesterday I met with Inmarsat, the London-based global telecommunications company, who are kindly helping support our efforts to link the AAE with the outside world, including a new system that will allow HD broadcasts from the south. Wow! I can’t wait to try it out.
Just a few more days to go!