We are pleased to announce the winners of our Aurora Expeditions Writing Competition. With such a good selection of entries, it was a fun and rewarding process to read through some of your wonderful stories created as part of your experience whilst travelling with us.
In first place was Emma Dellar’s poetic entry, and our judge, writer, artist and historian, Alasdair McGregor, acknowledged Emma’s creative approach.
“I liked their creative approach, saying in a few poetic words what paragraphs could not. The entrant summed up Antarctica beautifully, and despite them saying that Antarctica is impossible to describe, they made a very good effort.”
Read Emma’s winning entry below, along with two runner up entries by Heather Walker and Jim Holgate.
WINNER - Emma Dellar
Its not something that you can describe.
Words do not exist to do it justice.
No sound uttered or conjured could portray the emotion evoked.
And yet we try.
It's wild and anchored all at once.
It's rooted in the soul of the earth, eternal, and yet, even still, ever changing.
It's freedom of a different kind.
Sureness in its roughness.
Complete in its imperfection.
There is a depth.
Deeper than the valleys carved into the walls of the mountains.
Higher than its peaks, the summits we try to ascend.
Unconstrained and wieldy.
Turning on a dime.
The scale is unimaginable.
And dreamscapes surround.
To be there is the only way to know this.
To understand it.
Embrace the Big White.
Know the Southern Land.
RUNNER UP #1 - Heather Walker
Recharging mind’s zest
There is a favourite photo I keep as my desktop display on my laptop. It is of a beautiful big white flower, it’s name I do not know, blooming on a background of velvety dark green leaves. In the centre is an orb of long yellow stamens wrapped like protective fingers around its heart. A myriad of water droplets drip off the back of the large splayed petals, an instant in time forever frozen by my camera’s shutter. It is a treasured micro-moment capture of life encountered from a zodiac on an Aurora cruise down the mighty Amazon River. A timeless photo, reminiscent of a remote and unforgettable experience I’ll cherish forever and one of many that sustains me through life’s trudge.
As I type away at works daily grind my fingers are at times tempted to stray on the keyboard, powerless to resist the urge to click open my repository of travel memories and replenish my mind’s zest. A stilt-perched hut, surrounded by palms, just hovers above the murky water with young and innocent faces peering curiously from the windows. I’m reminded to take some time to enjoy life with child-like abandonment. A fisherman is poised confidently on a wooden canoe, nets carefully coiled behind him, surrounded by peaceful water and wafting reeds. The orange of the late afternoon sun glows on his face and his reflection is mirrored with the iridescent blue and grey of the Amazon sky. I am looking at a man content with his station in life, and I am prompted to be happy, content and at peace with what ever I am doing, wherever I am. The Polar Pioneer, at anchor on a remote section of the river, is bathed in sunshine against the dark sky of an approaching tropical storm. Above, the vivid coloured bands of a rainbow arch overhead. There really is beauty everywhere in life, even above a man-made Russian icebreaker in a storm; you just have to be out there and looking. An endless line of rainforest trees, orange in the glow of the setting sun and river reflections, almost beckons to the passer by to highlight a momentary spotlight on the beauty and complexity of nature untouched. I am moved to help in whatever way I can, to protect such remote and wild places for the enjoyment of generations to come.
My enthusiasm for life momentarily recharged, I resist the temptation to flick through the next photo folder and focus back on life’s necessary chores. With a renewed vigour driving my fingers and a rekindled fervour in my soul, I park my photo repository of Kimberley and Arnhem Land/Cape York trips ready and waiting for the next battery recharge. Or maybe I’ll just create a new folder in anticipation for the next lot of memories and focus my mind’s zest for travel on planning my next Aurora adventure on the high seas.
RUNNER UP #2 - Jim Holgate
So much Joy - thanks Aurora
As a child, Antarctica’s isolation and mystery was always appealing to me but I never thought it possible to go there unless I was a brave explorer like my hero Mawson. In the 1960s there were newspaper stories and photos from the Australian Base and I even remember a photo of a VW Beetle being driven on the ice. How cool was that!
As I was thinking about celebrating my upcoming 60th birthday and retirement, I ran into a work colleague, who had been to Antarctica twice. She said to me that ‘you must go, it is the experience of a lifetime, and when you do, you need to promise me that you travel with Aurora, no ifs, no buts, and no maybes.’ Well that was a massive endorsement and she was so animated about the Aurora experience that I was destined.
I announced to my family that we were going on the January 2013 expedition to South Georgia/Antarctica and expectantly counted the time until we set sail from the Falklands on the Polar Pioneer.
True to my friend's words the Aurora experience was amazing, made all the more so by our Expedition Leader, Howard Whelan’s approach of ‘let’s have an adventure.’ Those memories of sliding down the mountain in the snow & walking in Shackleton’s footsteps were fantastic. I never expected the swell to be heaving us up so high and down so low as we kayaked close to the shore with those massive kelp tentacles glistening like giant rubber strips as we passed. I knew there would be lots of penguins and seals but I didn’t expect to be at one with them on the land and as they swam and leapt out of the water as we paddled. Icebergs, wow icebergs! Scenery wow scenery! The sea surface freezing before your eyes, just amazing.
As we were leaving Salisbury Plain after witnessing 250,000 King Penguins, my daughter was totally overcome and put her arms around me, gave me a kiss and wished me a happy 60th and retirement. We both misted up as we hugged each other and it was not the approaching fog in our eyes. A priceless moment, thanks Aurora for this wonderful memory.
The ‘afterglow’ of our Aurora Antarctic experience has made me want to share it, and as a volunteer I have conducted over 20 Penguin Parties for around 1000 people in Aged Care Homes, with people who will never be able to travel there. I put together a 10 minute DVD of my photos along with music, a King Penguin suit and inflatable penguin and along with my Esky filled with Penguin hats, this has brought great joy to so many.
My son & I are now booked with Aurora for the same expedition in January 2016, completing the full family experience.
So thanks Aurora, the experience has been truly life changing and who knows what might come from my son's & my expedition in 2016.