September 29, 2005

Arctic Cruising: All Aboard for Svalbard

Trivia Question: Where is the world’s most northerly permanent settlement? Answer: Ny Ålesund in the North West of the island of Spitbergen - 78.9°N

Just 600 miles from the North Pole lies the island group of Svalbard, of which Spitsbergen is the largest. Variously occupied and exploited by the Dutch, Russians and Norwegians, in 1920 it was decided by treaty that the Norwegians should administer it and the capitol, Longyearbyen, flies the Norwegian tricolour.


The archipelago, named and first mapped by the famous Dutch explorer, Willem Barents, in 1596 became a whaling station, a coal-mining centre, a launching point for famous arctic expeditions and more recently, a mecca for naturalists, polar researchers and eco-tourists.

September 28, 2005

Icebreakers - Pushing the Limits of Endurance

When the first Arctic explorers started venturing north, some five hundred years ago, in search of the supposed riches beyond the ice, they encountered numerous problems. Not the least of them was that their flimsy wooden ships kept sinking when they ran into the inevitable ice pack.

The 43-metre Jeannette, built in Pembroke Dockyard in Wales, was crushed by ice on 12 June 1881. Picture: James. G. Tyler

The pursuit of the fabled North West Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific brought numerous sailors undone as they pushed deeper into the frozen wilderness above what is now Canada. In fact, the most celebrated failure, that of Sir John Franklin in 1845, saw two ships and the entire complement of 129 men disappear.

September 17, 2005

Brisbane comes of age

Brisbane, the adolescent city, is no more. In its place is a dynamic, sophisticated city, now actively competing with its southern sisters Melbourne and Sydney to pull in tourists. Jacqui Lang explores.

Just a 90-minute flight from Sydney, it’s then less than half an hour to drive to the heart of Brisbane.

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