Ptolemy, the geographer, astronomer and astrologer who lived between 90-168AD insisted there was a Terra Australis a vast continent in the far south of the globe to balance the northern lands of Europe, Asia and north Africa. As early as the 16th century Turkish maps depicted a large southern landmass. And they were all correct.
Antarctica is the southernmost continent and encompasses the South Pole. It is surrounded by the Southern Ocean and divided by the Trans-Antarctic Mountains. It is the coldest, driest and windiest continent and has the highest average elevation of all continents. Ninety-eight percent of it is covered in ice.
Because there is little precipitation, except at the coasts, the interior of the continent is technically the largest desert in the world. There are no permanent human residents and it has never had an indigenous population.
Only cold-adapted plants and animals survive there penguins, fur seals, mosses and lichens and many species of algae.
The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by 12 countries. It prohibits military activities and mineral mining and supports scientific research and protects the continent's eco-zone. Ongoing experiments are conducted by scientists of many nationalities with different interests.
As it way off the beaten track, and unless you are a scientist or serious adventurer, the Antarctic region is something most of us will never see.
Melbourne company, Croydon Travel, took the initiative and run scenic flights in the comfort of a 747 a couple of times a year from either Sydney or Melbourne.
So everyone gets a turn at a window, they run a seating rotation system, and unlike commercial flights, passengers are encouraged to walk around.
After around six flying hours, the first icebergs appear, and even from the window of a 747, it is still magical, pure and white. Flying over a mountain range gives good perspective as to the massiveness of the Antarctic. If its ice sheets melted, the world's oceans would rise by 60 to 65 metres.