Expedition Organizer/Leader Dr. Robert Schmieder is on a 2-week multi-stop trip to New Zealand, Tasmania, and Australia to coordinate plans, permits, and logistics for the expedition. His first stop was to see Peter Hillary (son of Sir Edmund Hillary) in Auckland (see picture above). Bob was hosted for several days by team member Jacky Calvo ZL3CW. They were able to meet with other radio amateurs who will provide support for the expedition, including Gary ZL2IFB, Chris ZL2DX, and Lee ZL2AL, who will serve as a radio pilot for the DXpedition.
In Christchurch Bob met with Rodney Russ of Heritage Expeditions (who is providing the vessel), and in Kingston, Tasmania, he met with staff at the Australian Antarctic Division (who will issue the permits). Bob reports that these meetings went very well, and there is every expectation that the expedition can go forward as planned. In particular, the contract for the vessel is in hand, and Heritage indicated they can help with certain facilities and logistics that will save the expedition some expenses. The AAD indicated that the expedition can expect to receive permission to visit areas of the island normally off-limits to visitors, and to make collections of organisms and return with them for laboratory analysis. These activities are critical to the expedition’s goal of “Discovering Life in the Extremes,” so this step gives assurance that the major objectives of the expedition can be met.
In Christchurch, Bob met with team member Martin Budd, son of legendary Heard Island explorer Grahame Budd, (also a member of the expedition team). Team member Rohan Clarke came from Melbourne for the neeting with the AAD in Kingston, Tasmania, and they also met with Eric Woehler, expert on Heard Island and an important advisor to the expedition. Bob will also be meeting with staff at the University of Tasmania, including Jodi Fox, who will be doing her PhD thesis on the geology of the Laurens Peninsula. In a few days, Bob travels to Sydney to meet with Grahame Budd and with other Australian team members, including John Weigle and Glen Pacey. He will also make an important side trip to Perth to coordinate the local (Fremantle) support team.
It is clear that this trip was an essential step to solidify the formal structure of the expedition and the coordination of the team. “Now,” Bob says, in a flight metaphor, “We have an approved flight plan. The next steps are to assemble the cargo, suit up the crew, and prepare for takeoff in November!”
11 Feb. 2015