Chillin’ out and bear­ing up bril­liantly at top of world

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

I’M on top of the world emo­tion­ally and lit­er­ally. As I was about to sit down and write to you, we were called out on deck, as a po­lar bear and her cub were walk­ing a rocky isle, haloed with ice, right in front of the ship.

It’s the North Pole, well close, any closer and I could shake Santa’s hand, so re­ally I’m more in his front yard.

It’s a jour­ney to the north of Sval­bard, an ad­ven­ture planned for many years, and over the five days I’ve seen so much, and I mean days – the term 24 hours a day is per­fect here as there is no night. The sun doesn’t move.

The ship has about 100 on it, and we take the Zo­di­acs to shore, with a bloke up the front with a ri­fle – true. Po­lar bears can ap­pear any­time, and I guess we look like dessert af­ter a feed of seal.

Ac­tu­ally the ma­jes­tic an­i­mals are not white, more yel­low, which is handy for 100 silly hu­mans hop­ing to see them, but what hap­pened two days ago was more than any of the crew ex­pected.

I’ll tell you about it in a mo­ment, as we were called out for wal­ruses! Won’t be po­lar mo­ment.

OK, ev­ery­one wants to see the bears but see­ing the ice king’s not promised, so when one was sighted our sec­ond night, it was bed­lam.

There were peo­ple and cam­eras and binoc­u­lars ev­ery­where. She was a long way off. It meant some good pics from peo­ple with lens the size of the Bur­dekin pipe­line, other than that, pretty small.

But we were sorta happy, if that was our bear, then so be it. But, two days later, birds sur­rounded a fresh seal kill, and that’s when it hap­pened.

The an­nounce­ment made, a bear sighted some dis­tance away, asleep. We watched, waited, felt like yelling out “Bundy, wake up!”. But no ... and then not far from the boat another bear wakes be­hind some sea ice and walks to­wards the boat, a huge fat healthy fe­male, she’d killed the seal and was com­ing back.

She came to within 10m of the boat. She ate for an hour, looked at the boat, didn’t care, then wan­dered off.

Mean­while the other bear, a male waited for her to fin­ish, and came up to us, and lit­er­ally put on a show, right in front of us. At­ten­bor­ough missed out, we didn’t! We all feel com­plete.

It truly was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence, bears in the wild, not doors or wires or ad­mis­sion fees, no zoo, it was na­ture at its al­lur­ing and sav­age best.

Lunchtime bell, we’re hav­ing seal skin, her­ring heart and wal- ris­soles.

Sad I missed the V8s, I hear it was great, but as was said, I think I had the best “pole po­si­tion”.

From the North Pole, well a bit south now, trav­el­ling the Hin­lopen Strait, Sval­bard.

Happy days, Oorooooo … it’s cold.

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