Backpacking your way to Antarctica?? Are you serious? Yes! Antarctica is without doubt the most amazing place I have travelled to, to date. It really is like another world and anyone who has been there will agree with me. It’s a white continent of superlatives, it’s magical! But can you do it on a backpacker budget? Yes, of course! I did 😉 How to backpack your way to Antarctica!
I visited Antarctica in November 2010 after years of planning, researching and dreaming. I often spent days gazing at photos of Antarctica and which Antarctica trip would suit me best. I’m a budget traveller. I’m a ‘backpacker’. I change jobs constantly. I move around a lot. I’m a nomad. I live a lifestyle of travel. I’ve never owned a bed, or a wardrobe. But you’ve heard Antarctica is expensive to visit, right? So how on earth did a globetrotting backpacker like myself afford to go to Antarctica for a two week trip. I’ll tell you how I afforded Antarctica in just one word: Broccoli.
Yes, I worked as a broccoli farmer for 4 months in Tasmania in the Spring of 2010. Nice story, but that doesn’t explain how you ended up in Antarctica!!
OK so when I arrived in Tasmania I had already saved up a bit of money from my previous job in the pub in Parramatta, then after a few weeks of broccoli harvesting, I was offered an upgraded job on broccoli. It was guaranteed money, guaranteed 7 days a week of working, guaranteed pay rise (I went from $18 AU per hour to $19 AU per hour – that would be an EXTRA $70 a week) and I would be living cheaply out in the complete wilderness. Well that, it was. I bought a car for $1,500 AU dollars, I bought a tent for $15 AU dollars and I headed for the mountain village of Poatina. That was March 2010.
From the day I arrived in Poatina, I hardly spent a penny or a cent. There was no shop in the village open when we got home – you could buy some food from the restaurant at the campsite and I was miles from civilisation. After 4 weeks of harvest I had a day off so I drove to the nearest large town, Longford (we lived in the wilderness) and casually checked my bank account.I had never had so much money before. So that was it – I shopped around on my only internet session in 2 months and I got the best deal I could find at the time and I booked a 2 week trip to Antarctica! I booked it all at once such was the excitement – flights to Buenos Aires and Ushuaia and the cruise and the total cost was around $6,100 AU Dollars (if you see my above pay cheque you’ll see how much I was earning each WEEK so this was easily affordable for me at the time 😉 )
When broccoli season finished it was a bit of a release as I cut my last piece of broccoli at Walabadah farm near Cressy in central Tasmania, we had a party in the darkness on the farm. The farmer brought in pizzas and beer and as I sipped a cold one in the wilderness I smirked to myself as a few months later I would step on the Antarctic continent. This was no travel dream of mine – this was a mere reality.
So I did a couple more months working on cauliflower harvesting, weeding, pyrethrum planting and echinacea harvesting before a road trip back to Parramatta where I worked in the local Irish pub up until my flight out of Sydney, Australia. I’ve cut this story short of course, but in a nutshell, it just proves how EASY it is to travel on a low budget. Work hard, save hard and make your dreams a reality. Of course in hindsight I found an even better and cheaper way to do Antarctica, but alas, that’s a story for another time. For the meantime I just wanted to share this one with you!
The nomadic Northern Irishman. The normal guy living a normal life, who backpacked his way to Antarctica, via a broccoli field, well sort of. Thanks eternally to Rebecca Gaby and Hayley Becker for the constant workload in the magic of Tasmania. Without the pair of you I probably wouldn’t have this story to tell. And my fellow staff in Tasmania for keeping us all entertained in what was probably the most mundane 4-5 months of my life so far. It was worth it and I did Antarctica!
Two videos to show you – short and sweet:
How to cut broccoli by Jonny Blair:
How to walk on a beach in Antarctica by Jonny Blair:
Jonny Blair – the travelling Northern Irishman. Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel! How to backpack your way to Antarctica is just another story in Jonny’s endless travel journey! Read about Neko Harbour, Cuverville and Elephant Island.