An authentic expedition into the vast icy desert of East Antarctic, our ‘In the Wake of Mawson’ voyage channels the spirit and tenacity of its heroic namesake exploring the historic and isolated coastline of Commonwealth Bay where very few have ventured before. Located almost entirely within the Eastern Hemisphere, East Antarctica (or Greater Antarctica) is renowned for the thickness of its ice, up to almost 5 kilometres in some areas, and some of the coldest and driest conditions on the planet, yet is still home to Emperor and Adelie Penguins, seals, seabirds and cetaceans. A celebration of Australia’s contribution to Antarctic exploration, our own expedition carries the same thrill of the unknown as we traverse the frozen coastline following in the wake of these great adventurers. Due to the unpredictable nature of ice and weather conditions, a day-by-day itinerary is not possible. The captain and Expedition Leader will assess daily conditions and take advantage of every opportunity to make landings and enjoy Zodiac cruises during the long daylight hours. Our program emphasizes wildlife viewing, key scientific bases and historic sites, as well as the spectacular scenery of the coastal terrain, the glaciers and icebergs of East Antarctica. Whilst specific landings cannot be guaranteed, we hope to visit the following as well as seek out new, perhaps previously unvisited areas: Commonwealth Bay Our first explorations on the remote East Antarctic coastline will be at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, it is notoriously known as the ‘home of the blizzard’ due to the strong Katabatic winds that frequently blow here. If a lull in the weather allows we hope to see, and experience, Mawson’s Hut – established for the 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition – and its environs, which includes the Memorial Cross to expeditioners Ninnis and Mertz who perished during the infamous three man ‘Far Eastern Party’ sledging trip (which Mawson himself barely survived). Nesting near the hut are substantial numbers of Adelie Penguin and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel. Dumont d’Urville, Port-Martin West from Cape Denison is the French Research Base, Dumont d’Urville, which we will visit if permission is granted and ice conditions permit. The base’s main area of study is wildlife, notably the Emperor Penguin. In summer, the rocks near the base are also home to an Adelie Penguin rookery, as well as skua, Snow Petrel, Giant Petrel and Cape Petrel. This French base was rebuilt on the current site after a fire destroyed the original research station located at Port Martin, over 60 kilometres east of Dumont d’Urville. We will also attempt to visit this abandoned site. McKellar Islands This group of approximately 30 small islands and rocks lie 3 kilometres north of Cape Denison and were discovered by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition under Mawson. We will not land at these islets but there may be good opportunities for wildlife sightings close by. East from Cape Denison we follow the East Antarctic ice edge towards the Mertz Glacier. The Mertz Glacier emerges from the mountains of East Antarctica in King George V land. Extending into the ocean with a floating tongue, this tongue advanced from 1956 to 2010 a distance of 43 kilometres without calving. In 2010 the tongue was impacted by the B9B iceberg causing the Mertz Glacier tongue to calve off an iceberg that was 78 kilometres long.