There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more..
- Lord Byron
Before I started working on this expedition I had this romantic idea that I would be sitting up on deck, getting high on the Antarctic air, fingers dancing over my laptop keyboard like Fred and Ginger as glaciers rolled on by. Oh, how wrong I was! The unglamorous reality is that most of the time I was huddled in my bunk with my laptop, not having showered for 5 days, wearing clothes that looked suspiciously like the same clothes I wore yesterday and the day before that. There was a point in the journey where I avoided mirrors because I knew my reflection would scare me. I’ve filed stories from tree houses, trains and airports all over the world but this humdinger of a voyage had me beaten on many occasions. I was going to write a misery blog on how hard it’s been writing and taking photos in these conditions, but then I figured this is my last blog and I didn’t want to waste it on negativity. But for all the heavy times there were also days of buoyant happiness. I have fond memories of whale watching with the sponsors group – Intrepid Travel, St George Bank and Arup you have incredible people working for you. Watching the Alexandra Shackleton sail triumphantly into Peggotty Bluff was also a moment I’ll not soon forget. After watching her rise and fall with the Southern Ocean for 12 days, it was both a relief and a triumph to see her and the crew on land once again. Then there were the moments of genuine hilarity living and working aboard the Australis, a hardworking vessel run by a hardworking crew of Ben Wallis, Skye-Marr Whelan and Magnus O’Grady.
After 50 days of living on the Australis we’ve just arrived in the Falklands. I am now ready to re-enter society, if society will have me. If the looks we just got from the local restaurant staff are anything to go by, then we’ve got some way to go before we are fit for integration into civilisation. I’ve had a shower and a bath just to be sure.
Jokes aside, it’s been a privilege keeping everyone up to date with the Shackleton Epic story and the behind the scenes antics. Although I’ve had a limited internet connection, I’ve been told that the blog has been a good resource, especially for the family and friends of the Shackleton Epic team, so I hope in some small way I’ve managed to bring the Shackleton Epic to life for you all, wherever you are in the world. To everyone that came along for the ride, thanks for reading!
The support, comments and well wishes got me over the line when writing through storms, sickness and fatigue. While I’m happy to see the back of seasickness, I know I’m going to miss Antarctica dreadfully. It’s been my workplace and backyard for nearly two months now and it still has the ability to knock me off my feet both figuratively and literally (those katabatic winds can be brutal).
If you miss me, you can find me here: www.wordessence.com.au I’d love to hear from you all.
- Jo Stewart, Shackleton Epic blogger
Kim McKay, Momentum2, who engaged Jo Stewart to join the expedition, writes:
Jo, you’ve been amazing on so many levels and on behalf of the entire Shackleton Epic team, supporters, friends and family, thank you for bringing this extraordinary adventure to life for us all.
You’ve triumphed over sea sickness (who will forget the black bucket of shame), lack of sleep, tension on the high seas and mountain crossing, and not to mention the personal habits of the expedition and camera crews…we know why women are called a civilising influence on a society!
Your writing and photography skills are something to be very proud of and it has been a pleasure to have you aboard. May the Shackleton Epic expedition be a great launching pad into fame and fortune for you and may the memories become more golden with the perspective of time.
To our readers, we’ll continue to post blogs and updates and post messages on Facebook and Twitter about Shackleton Epic throughout the year – letting you know how the team is doing, when the book is released, and when the brilliant three-part documentary series will air in your region….stay tuned.