End of year holidays are something of a tradition in Australia, though destinations are typically of the warm, sandy beach variety.
Not so for one Gloucester resident, Dale Rabbett, who along with her friend, Carolyn McKinley, ventured out into the great southern ocean to visit the Subantarctic islands.
"The main goal for me was I really wanted to see the penguin rookeries on Macquarie Island," Dale said.
The pair flew to New Zealand before boarding the ship, Heritage Adventurer, then set sail toward the Roaring 40s on the trip that had been planned 18 months.
They were fortunate to enjoy mostly good weather throughout, however, they soon discovered first hand the perils of being at sea in that part of the world.
"We were fortunate the Southern Ocean was kind to us, but we did have a couple of instances where we had quite large swells," Dale said.
"We're on our fourth floor and it was like come somebody was standing outside the window throwing buckets of water at it."
A few encounters with seasickness aside, the trip provided an insight into nature that few ever get to experience.
Often described as the Galapagos of the south, the Subantarctic Islands are home to an abundance of wildlife rarely seen outside of the region.
There's 100,000 breeding pairs of royal penguins, it's just a fabulous opportunity to visit wildlife in an unpolluted area- Dale Rabbett
To safeguard the area, tourism is heavily restricted with providers allowed to operate only under special licensing conditions, bringing people to what are nature reserves and World Heritage sites.
Throughout their trip Dale and Carolyn encountered birds such as Snares Penguins, Sooty and Chatham Albatrosses, and tom tits, along with curious New Zealand fur seals that swam alongside the inflatable boats used when ferrying travellers between the Heritage Adventurer and the islands.
However the highlight for Dale was the stop at Macquarie Island with its King Penguin colony and an estimated 850,000 Royal penguins, an experience she described as truly a sight to see but with a smell that was out of this world.
"There's 100,000 breeding pairs of royal penguins, it's just a fabulous opportunity to visit wildlife in an unpolluted area.
"There's not a scrap of rubbish anywhere and the tour companies are extremely cautious to ensure that the islands that we are allowed on to, you don't take anything on your footwear, even your coats and jackets.
"If you've got any velcro straps, you've got to go through your velcro with tweezers to ensure that you don't take any seeds on.
"It's just really respecting the environment."
As for their next out of the way adventure, Dale suggested the Svalbard Archipelago, a group of islands situated in the Arctic Ocean north of mainland Norway.
While it may sound - and most likely is - remote and inhospitable, it is one of the few places in the world where you can see polar bears in the wild.
I might just stick to a sunny beach myself.
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