What's in a week?

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This week at Mawson: 17 February 2012


Arrived by Basler DC3; style, form and function, can’t have enough photographs. The tail wheel makes her hold her nose dramatically high. She is a much loved theatrical dame of the air. Looks like the final scene from Casablanca... this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, soon and then forever. She has had her pistons replaced with turboprops.

Station induction then a late meal has been put by – heroic serve, no plate showing under the food.


Station tour, station briefing, three for the price of one. Kitchen orientation, good to see the cappuccino machine. Spend time in lab, new laser working well, an old laser flickering and making ominous clicking sounds, tut tuting at its own decay.


See Doc Lloyd and tell him I am in good health. No appointment needed in Antarctica where the doctor is pleased to see you and happy to chat about a whole range of fascinating topics. We get on to mad cow disease. He is safe because he visited England in the seventies; I lived there in the eighties and it was in the eighties that insufficiently sterilised sheep offal was fed to English cows. Scrapie in sheep jumped species and became BSE in cows and then jumped into people. People who have lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996 are not allowed to give blood in Australia. Australian blood donor leaflets used to have a picture of Mrs Thatcher just to make the point. Lloyd is a big fan of the Iron Lady so better move on.

Talk to Wilco about workshop modifications to the FPS (Fabry Perot Spectrometer). He says if I give him the parts he can complete the modifications by Tuesday. Great, only problem is I can’t reach the part on the FPS. It is too windy to be carrying ladders about; well, this is Mawson.


Nice formal dinner in the evening. Shared a bottle of wine with Josef and then slept through half the movie. Good to be amongst friends.


Discover kindred spirits in Rolf and Mark who are both into scientific marvels. Mark has built a Stirling engine during the winter. We decide to build a Kelvin Electrostatic Generator before Davis can get theirs to work.

Rolf who is taller than me helps me to dismantle the part of the FPS that I can not reach and Wilco finishes the modifications a day early. Sterling chaps.

Monday, Tuesday

Going well in the lab, looks as though the FPS will be operational by the time it is dark enough for aurora.

Woolies is a wonderful institution –  a cupboard full of the sort of things which back in the land of shops you might forget to buy and then have to make a special trip for. Toothpaste, cotton buds, deodorant, everything except chocolate but there is a box of that in the mess. In this climate chocolate lasts forever, even so I have probably eaten too much. Hmm, better move on.


Slushy. Only twenty people on station so slushy duties come around more often. Such a small number of people make little wear and tear on the kitchen and carpets. The chef is a kind man and everybody helps after dinner. Well, that was the week that was. It is good to be amongst friends.

Theo' Davies

Red and white Basler modified DC-3 parked on its skis
Basler modified DC-3 parked
(Photo: Theo' Davies)
Mawson coffee machine in the Mess
Mawson cappuccino machine
(Photo: Theo' Davies)
Looking from floor level up into the Mawson Fabry Perot Spectrometer
Mawson Fabry Perot Spectrometer
(Photo: Theo' Davies)
Home made Kelvin electrostatic generator being made at Davis
Kelvin electrostatic generator at Davis
(Photo: Theo' Davies)
A shelf in Woolies (the self help area) of toothpaste, cotton buds, deodorant, etc
A shelf in the Mawson Woolies
(Photo: Theo' Davies)
The chocolate box, which does not stay full for long, in the Mess window
The chocolate box
(Photo: Theo' Davies)
Expeditioners cleaning up the dishes after a meal
After-dinner help
(Photo: Theo' Davies)
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