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Antarctic Division
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Rowan Butler
ANARE Club Representative 2017-18
Voyage 2 Aurora Australis - Casey resupply


Rowan Butler working atop an automatic weather station inland from Casey in 1984


Aurora Australis is scheduled to depart Hobart 13 December 2017, be at Casey 23-31 December and return Hobart 10 January 2018

1. Wednesday 5 December 2017 Thoughts on heading South (again).

I have reached out and touched the bottom of the Aurora Australis’ hull, on a visit to see its construction at Carrington Slipways at Newcastle. At its launch in 1989 I photographed it as it slid sideways into the water for the first time but I have never actually set foot on board. Now that it is to be replaced, I finally have the opportunity to sail on it!

The Icebird and the Lady Franklin are two of the ships that I travelled on but my favourite was “the little red ship,” Nella Dan (“always the fastest”). I went to and from Mawson for my first winter over 1981 on the Nella, did a number of marine science voyages on her and was on board for the legendary trip in 1985 that dropped off a summering party on Heard Island and then went off to the pack ice for scientific work. We never made it back to Heard Island to pick up the party though, as we got beset in the ice for seven weeks. Nella Dan was involved in more drama that season when on the return from picking up the summer party to Bunger Hills that I was a member of, the ship was directed to bring back returning expeditioners from Davis and Mawson because the Icebird had to return to Hobart after the drive gear to its propeller shaft got damaged. We had 66 passengers with people sleeping on couches and the floor.

The upcoming Voyage 2 Casey resupply should be a little less crowded and soon I’ll be heading off to Hobart to get my clothing kit, be briefed and sail off to Casey, where I spent 1984. At least some of it, as I was fortunate to go on the spring and autumn traverses of two and four months each respectively. We drove straight south and saw a lot of the “great white hell.” However, the old station I lived and worked in is no more and I’m looking forward to seeing the new - but now rather old - station, which was being built when I was there.

Roll on 13 December when I head south again. It’s all rather amazing and still a bit unbelievable as I never thought I’d be going back!



Aurora Australis under construction.


Aurora Australis being launched.


Nella Dan proudly flying the ANARE flag, steams through the pack.


A not so fast Nella Dan beset in 1985.


2 Sunday 10 December 2017 Once More on My Adventure

Once more on my adventure is what I’m feeling. These words also happen to be the title of a biography about Frank Hurley who is a hero of mine as he was such a great photographer, and I particularly like his Antarctic work.

The entrance building of the Australian Antarctic Division is named after Hurley but oddly, it lacks a single print from this famous Australian Antarctic photographer. It’s doorway was now the entrance to my next adventure and inside I met with two others who were also about to get their clothing kit. We were given some rather cool warm items and they were a lot more hi tech than my last issue of 1987 vintage.

At the Division, I surprisingly still knew a couple of people working there. My friend Jonothan Davis introduced me to his very helpful supervisor, Jessica, who managed to arrange for me to carry on board more than my 30kg maximum allowance. Perhaps the Aurora is a flying boat?! My estimate of how little my clothing plus my camera gear was going to weigh had been optimistic, as I’m carrying two big DSLRs plus lenses, not a point and shoot! A trip to the wharf three days before sailing this coming Wednesday to hand over the extra weight is required.

I had a bizarre moment yesterday at the home of the friends I’m staying with in Kingston, who I came to know when I worked for Ant. Div. in the 80’s. Henry emerged from his garage/treasure trove with a wooden crate that had RTA (return to Australia) stencilled on it and “Rowan Butler Personal Gear Hold in Ant Div Store, Casey 84/85”. I had used the box to RTA things from Mawson (hence the red paint) in early 1982 and then to store stuff at the Division in 1984 while I was at Casey. Packaging has moved on from the days of wooden crates, called small, medium or large ANAREs (‘Anaries’), depending in their size.



The Frank Hurley building, Australian Antarctic Division entrance.


Rowan gets his clothing kit.


A surprise find of a medium ANARE box from my year at Casey.



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