Midwinter celebrations at Macquarie Island

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This week at Macquarie Island: 27 June 2014

Last Saturday 22 June was midwinters day, the major celebratory occasion on the Antarctic calendar. We celebrate the shortest day of the winter, the pending return of the sun, and being "over the hump" in terms of the traditionally most difficult part of the year for the station community. At this time, we have about six hours of daylight at Macquarie Island, plus a longish dawn and dusk, so it is not the same as the continental stations in this regard. Nevertheless, being able to get out and about is a big part of the experience at Macca, and is vitally important in terms of maintaining high morale and a positive outlook towards our time and place here. The short winter days restrict the ability to do this significantly. More importantly perhaps, the opportunities to enjoy and marvel at the wildlife on Macca is such an amazing part of the Macca experience for all, and during winter things go pretty quiet as far as wildlife is concerned. So we are also looking forward at this time to the pending return of the magnificent wildlife and the commencement of frenetic breeding activities for the seals, penguins and seabirds. 

Midwinter preparations had been a busy time in particular for our chef Benny, and an organising group lead by meteorology observer Evelyn who planned and decorated the mess for a Hawaiian luau theme, in keeping with our island paradise setting! The day started with the traditional midwinter swim, which involves a quick and exceptionally brisk dip in the Southern Ocean on both sides of the isthmus at station. This was followed by a reviving spell in the station hot tub. We then sat down to brunch, Benny's first offering for the day.

Keon and others had set up a few holes of golf at the isthmus, so after brunch, a round of golf was enjoyed. Later in the afternoon, we drew gifts from a lucky dip, which we had all been preparing for the last few weeks and were mostly hand made.

In the early evening, we gathered to enjoy Benny's impressive evening meal. Toasts were drunk to Australia, New Zealand (we have three kiwis on station), Macquarie Island, ANARE expeditioners past and present, family, and our community. Our doctor Meg received a somewhat delayed award of a Department of the Environment, Secretary's Australia Day award for her contribution as part of the team at the continental stations last summer which successfully managed a helicopter accident near Davis station. 

After dinner, we sat down to a number of entertaining skits with group and individual performances of acts and poems, and then finished a memorable day by enjoying a performance of the current Macca band, 'The Floppy Balloons'. 

Next day Sunday 22 June was (unsurprisingly) a relatively quiet day, and we enjoyed a sheep-on-a-spit barbecue in the main store.

Many thanks to Benny for his wonderful efforts in the kitchen and to Evelyn for putting it all together!

Chef Benny hard at work preparing our midwinter food
Chef Benny hard at work preparing our midwinter food
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)
Expeditioner wearing one piece pyjama suit and flippers
Ranger in charge Chris dressed for the morning swim
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
The group of swimmers lined up for a dip!
The group of swimmers lined up for a dip!
(Photo: Pete Raymond)
group of swimmmers run across the istmus
A quick dip on one side of the isthmus, and a brisk…
(Photo: Pete Raymond)
Group in a hot tub
Followed by a recovery in the hot tub
(Photo: Pete Raymond)
Group sitting for brunch
Midwinter brunch
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)
Graeme and Greg at golf
Graeme and Greg at golf
(Photo: Keon Stevenson)
Greg tees off
Greg tees off
(Photo: Keon Stevenson)
Lucky dip for midwinter gift
Lucky dip for midwinter gift
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)
chef, cardboard cut out Mawson, and expeditioner with plate of crayfish
Benny, Sir Doug, and Ivor with the dinner main attraction
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)
Seated for the evening meal at one long table, surrounded by colourful decorations
Seated for the evening meal
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)
Our midwinter dinner group photo
Our midwinter dinner group photo
(Photo: Sean Reynolds)
Two expeditioers enact a tuatara hand and finger puppet
Meg and Scotty's skit: "Tui" the performing tuatara
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Finger puppet performs
"Tui" performs the high wire balancing act
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
two expeditioners perform haka
Mike, Chris and Greg: two of our kiwi "bros" do the Macca…
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)
Live band at Macquari Island station with a punk rocker look
'The Floppy Balloons'
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)
two expeditioners with mohawk haircuts
Keon and Ryan marked the occasion with celebratory haircuts!
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Chris, Paul and Graeme with our Sunday spit roast
Chris, Paul and Graeme with our Sunday spit roast
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)
four expeditioners at the sunday spit roast
Sean, Greg, Meg, and Keon on Sunday
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)
Doctor Meg holding up her Department of the Environment, Secretary's Australia Day award and smiling
Doctor Meg with her Department of the Environment, Secretary's Australia Day award
(Photo: Graeme Freeman)
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