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www.mn.catholic.org.au Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
Walka Grange Lifestyle Village
Waterworks Road, Rutherford
PO Box 12 Maitland, NSW. 2320
Phone: 4932 1901 Fax: 4932 1929
Walka Grange will be a master-planned retirement village in the Hunter
Valley, offering residents privacy and seclusion in a fully-maintained over
55's community environment.
Walka Granges' design enhances the magnificent natural environment. Set
on eight hectares with open spaces, tree-lined streets and delightful vistas
of Walka Water Works and the Maitland region.
A rural, tranquil ambience surrounds the estate.
In such a beautiful, natural and pituresque village, it will be easy for our
residents to forget just how close to the city they are.
Expressions of interest
are now being taken
Call now on 4932 1901
entire year there. I'm guessing it's the
expeditioners who provide the variety on
what can be a long, cold and rough -- if
exhilarating -- voyage.
"There can be up to 140 people at
any one time. We have a crew of 23,
mostly Australian, and the remainder
are made up of 'expeditioners', again,
mostly Australian. Oceanographic and
sea-ice science research is a very
internationally collaborative field of
study and attracts scientists from all
over the world. It certainly does add to a
"After a few weeks at sea together -- and
when the landlubbers get their sea legs --
the ship begins to form a real community.
Two months in a confined and isolated
environment can provide plenty of
opportunities to get to know people well.
Strong and long lasting friendships have
evolved from encounters on an Antarctic
voyage. Some couples have even married
after first meeting on the Aurora Australis.
Many of the expeditioners return to the
ship on a regular basis and in many ways
it feels like they've become part of my
I'm glad to know that special occasions
such as Christmas, Easter and ANZAC
Day are not forgotten so far from home.
Gerry says, "Sometimes groups of people
may get together and hold a church
service, and we certainly celebrate
Christmas, Easter and the new year. We
hold a dawn service on ANZAC Day.
"Everyone's birthday is known to the
Captain and Voyage Leader and our cooks
will make them a birthday cake and we all
make a fuss of them, sometimes to the
point of embarrassment."
It's not hard to believe that being aboard
Aurora Australis would be a mighty
distraction from the real world, yet the
long stretches away from home must take
their toll, especially for Gerry's wife Mary-
Jane and their sons Riley and Morgan.
Gerry admits that he missed Morgan's
birth because he was at sea.
"I've often said that the hardest part of my
job is leaving home to go to work. Despite
having been in the job for many years,
that aspect doesn't seem to be getting
any easier. Missing big events in the lives
of your children, Christmas, first day at
school, birthdays, is the heaviest price
one pays for a life at sea.
"Once I'm at work the busyness and action
of the job distracts me from yearning for
home and family. It's almost like walking
into a completely different life in an
equally different world."
No doubt everyone reading this will
be wondering how Gerry and his crew
weather the cold. While those panoramic
Antarctic scenes are breathtaking, they
can make you feel cold just gazing
at them, so what's the drill on an
icebreaker? "The ship is comfortable
and well heated. Working on the deck
and on the ice can be another story, with
temperatures often in the minus 20s.
The most uncomfortable aspect of our
missions is usually the long passages
across the Southern Ocean where the
winds can be in excess of 100km/hr and
the seas up to 20m high. They can make
the ship feel like a cork on the ocean and
even the most hardened of sailors will
sometimes change colour when it gets
There are compensations though. "The
best part of the job for me is the sea
ice and icebreaking. It is an amazing
phenomenon to witness thousands of
square miles of ocean freeze up, break
up, move around and change shape, size
and thickness. It can be an awesome
challenge to navigate through, or at times
beat a hasty retreat.
"The other great aspect of my job is the
scenery. There is no denying that the
sheer spectacle of massive icebergs on
mirror calm waters, the Aurora Australis
(the southern lights), penguins, seals
and birds in abundance simply fills you
with awe of the beauty of nature and how
blessed we are to experience it.
"For some people it is a very spiritual
experience -- life-changing for some.
And not just to see such wonders and
experience such close community,
but also to be so far removed from
the pressures of the real world. We
like to refer to our Antarctica as the
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