Two Australian Antarctic expeditioners are returning home with a wedding to plan after sparking up a romance that’s endured the isolation of the frozen continent.
Instrument Electrician Peter Boyle and Antarctic Medical Practitioner Dr Natasha Behrendorff first met several years ago during pre-departure training.
“There’s a bus that takes you to the Australian Antarctic Division headquarters from your hotel. Pete stepped on and I found out he was a sparky going to Davis station. He just kept on smiling until we had a conversation,” Natasha said.
They soon became inseparable, spending time together sightseeing in Tasmania, before their separate postings at Casey and Davis research stations.
“We were surprised at the connection we made together and at how much we missed each other. We continued our relationship long distance and managed to bridge the 1400km gap between Casey and Davis with the modern marvels of satellite internet connection,” Peter said.
“Occasionally we dressed up for each other and had virtual dinner dates, to the amusement of fellow expeditioners who appeared passing through the background of our video calls.”
The pair spent more than 500 days apart and promptly moved in together once back in Australia.
But Antarctica soon called again and both applied to return, this time for a shorter summer stint.
Peter would head to Casey research station, while Natasha boarded resupply ship Happy Dragon, as the vessel’s doctor.
Knowing they would be reunited in Antarctica, Peter set about the tricky task of finding an engagement ring in time for the trip.
Soon one was packed in with his gear.
Word of his proposal plan quickly spread around station and when the time came to pop the question overlooking a penguin colony, strangely, the couple had company.
“We took a walk to Reeve’s Hill, along with a couple of expeditioners who just happened to have their suspiciously good camera equipment with them,” Peter said.
Natasha had her answer ready, an unequivocal yes, especially after some less-than-subtle hints from Peter.
“He’s a bit of an open book. I did have some inklings. He was asking me what sized ring I was. I also knew he was not the kind of man to let such a romantic opportunity pass him by,” Natasha said.
Both Natasha and Peter still have several more months of work ahead in Antarctica, before the real challenge begins – organising the big day.
Congratulations Natasha and Peter.