POLAR BIRD

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The "Polar Bird" is an Antarctic supply vessel which has been chartered by a variety of countries. It is ice-strengthened. In 1998 it was chartered by the Australian Antarctic Research Expedition as a temporary replacement for the out of service "Aurora Australis".

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BIRD 1  1998 Cover from Mawson ANARE base with "Polar Bird" cachet.   US$4

Note:   "PolarBird" was used for only the one trip in 1998 and ANARE helicopters from Mawson Base flew personnel and supplies to the vessel which came as close to the base as Pack Ice allowed.


2000 -2001 SEASON

For the 2000-2001 season "Polar Bird" was again chartered by Australia's Antarctic Division to make 5 supply trips to both sub-Antarctic and Antarctic bases. The first of these trips left Fremantle on the 8th of October 2000 to Heard Island where a major deployment was being made for the first time in many years.

A notable event was the use (for the first time in many years) of a pictorial Heard Island AAT datestamp.

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Heard Island seen from afar.

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Heard Island from the air.

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BIRD 2  2000 (October 20) Signed cover from Heard Island with "Polar Bird" and expedition cachets.   US$8

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Note: The above cover has been signed by Rod Ledingham who was the voyage leader in charge of the deployment to Heard Island.

The "Polar Bird" was at Heard Island from 19th October to 25th October 2000.

The picture at left shows Rod Ledingham autographing covers at Hobart prior to departing for Fremantle and Heard Island. Rod travelled  on board the "Polar Bird"  returning to Hobart on the same voyage.

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BIRD 3  2000 (October 20) Signed cover from Heard Island with various cachets.   US$8

Note: The above cover has some different cachets from the previous cover. The large red circular cachet at left shows both "Polar Bird" and "Aurora Australis" in the design but from the date we know that this cover was carried by "Polar Bird" even though it does not have the small "Polar Bird" cachet on it.

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BIRD 4  2000 (October 20) Signed cover from Heard Island with various cachets.   US$8

Note: The above cover is identical to the cover listed as BIRD 2 but is autographed instead by Sandra Potter who was the Deputy Voyage leader.

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This view shows Big Ben, the extinct Volcano which dominates Heard Island.

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This view shows an accomodation building for Heard Island being airlifted on board ship in Australia.

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BIRD 5  2000 (October 20) Unsigned cover from Heard Island with various cachets.   US$5

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Note: The above cover has the cachet as shown at left applied on the back of the envelope.

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BIRD 6  2000 (October 20) Polarogramme from Heard Island with various cachets.   US$5

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Shown at left is the back of the above Polarogramme. The "Polar Bird" deployed two AS350BA helicopters to the island. These helicopters only remained on the island until the 10th November when they were picked up by the "Aurora Australis" and returned to Fremantle.

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BIRD 7  2000 (October 20) Postcard showing Heard Island design with various cachets.   US$4

The view at right shows the bridge on board "Polar Bird" when it had returned to Hobart in November 2000

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BIRD 8  2000 (November 4th) Paquebot cover from Heard Island posted at Hobart.   US $6

Note: "Polar Bird" arrived at Hobart on 5th November 2000 so the Hobart Paquebot postmark has been wrongly applied with the previous days date (November 4th) still set.

This is the first usage of this datestamp we have seen. The postage stamp correctly used is a Norwegian stamp because "Polar Bird" is registered in Bergen in Norway.

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BIRD 9  2000 (November 4th) Paquebot cover from Heard Island posted at Hobart.   US $6

Note: This cover only differs from the previous one in that it has the special "Polar Bird" cachet at lower left instead of the Heard Island circular cachet.

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BIRD 10  2000 (November 27th) Cover from Casey AAT Base.   US $4

Note: "Polar Bird" arrived at Casey Base as shown at right on the 26th November 2000 and remained in the area until the 19th of December 2000.

This was mainly because it was stuck in the ice.  It eventually freed itself and arrived back at Hobart to complete Voyage 3 on 26th December, 2000.

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BIRD 11  2000 (November 27th) Polarogramme from Casey AAT Base.   US $4

Note: this attractive polarogramme shows a typical Antarctic scene as around Casey Base.  Mail from the base is normally carried to the ship by helicopter especially early in the season when Casey Base is surrounded by fast ice as was the case this season. The item bears a helicopter mail cachet as well as a "Air Mail from CASEY Antarctica" airmail sticker.

 

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At left we can see "Polar Bird" at Davis AAT Base in January, 2001.

The Chinese Zhong Shan Station is nearby and "Polar Bird" carried a number of Chinese Scientists and support staff for this Station as well as AAT staff for Davis Base.

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BIRD 12  2001 (February 26th) Envelope from Zhong Shan Station carried by "Polar Bird".   US $8

Note: The above cover has a cachet at bottom left in English and Chinese from the 15 person Chinese team on board "Polar Bird".


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