Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Friday, February 17, 2006

Aussies Explore Antarctica

Ralph Buttigieg

Sydney Australia

With one exception humans colonised every continent long ago and with with simple technology too. The great exception is the frozen land of Antarctica. Australians have been leading Antarctic exploration since the days of Sir Douglas Mawson who managed to claim a large chunk of Antarctic territory for Australia.

Australia has government funded bases there but Antarctica is still a destination for private Aussie explorers. People like Andrew McAuley and his team who at this moment are paddling a kayak unassisted around the Antarctic Peninsula. They have technological advantages that were fantasy in Mawson's day, such as GPS, dry suits and satellite phones, but the expedition is still a remarkable feat of human endeavor.

Another group of Aussie polar explorers are the IceBirds. Ben Deacon's IceBirds team, which also includes Andrew McAuley, have developed a unique technology, a kite powered ice sled that can sail into the wind. Once they have achieved full funding they will attempt a wind powered crossing of Antarctica. In the mean time they have been testing their invention in the Australian Alps. Have a look at this video. Sure looks like its going to be a hell of a ride!