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This week at Mawson: 28 February 2014

Mawson Station was established in February 1954. The original Station Leader logs are kept in the Operations building at Mawson and detail the day to day running of the station over the past 60 years. The following extracts, all written on February 28 across the decades from 1954, are taken from these logs.


28/2  3 knots, S. Trace cirrus, temp min 17.7 F, max 22.2 F, Barometer 29.309 ins.

Ice conditions: no change except for longer lead of open water.

Today has been treated as much as possible as a day of rest. This has included a sleep in during the morning and a general washing of clothes and bodies. For the latter two stoves, the Hoover washing machine and the bath were installed in No 2 Store and the camp washing done by three men: Dovers, Schwartz and Summers. Power was supplied by the 5KVA as a temporary installation.

The AR5 was placed on AC supply for radio liaison but blew a fuse. Macey and Storer worked on this and repaired the damage. Storer’s amateur radio installation was assembled as a reserve.

Dingle completed the fitting out of the met screen with all instruments and installed the barograph in the works hut.

I have placed two kerosene primuses in the Kitchen to ease the use of gas.

A brilliant aurora overhead at midnight.


28/2  Weather: overcast and windy, still up to 60 knots.

All available hands to unpacking. John Beck, Ed Lawson and self carried out inspection of caravans.

At 1145 a call from a Russian aircraft seemed to indicate a refuelling stop. Took off with the Snowtrac and VW. Almost up ice slope, Snowtrac wrecked a clutch plate. I returned to station in VW and Vic said they had decided to carry on over Mawson. Recalled Snowtrac by radio and Ed Lawson managed to get it back OK.

Norm Cardell’s birthday. Gave him a party.


28/2  After yesterday’s blizz all but one aerial is U/S. The ice loading from sea spray, plus passing bergy bits sailing between East Arm and Hump Island cause havoc. The radio techs will be pleased to see East Bay freeze.

Everywhere people are busy rearranging things – there is a giant cleanup underway in the dieso’s department. Inspected the IPSO building this afternoon. It’s in a terrible state; its foundations and guying are appalling.


28/2  Weather today: windy, temp approx -3C

I received a call from Ian Marchant re our SAB stocks and he agreed to get the Nella to pick up some 80,000 litres from Davis, my main concern being to have no restriction on the building program and not to have to use any ATK. Spoke again to Director Jim Bleasel and to John Whitelaw re the probability that the Nanok S had not in fact lost as much fuel as reported. No conclusions reached.

Ray Mitchell, Ted M’croft and myself conferred and agreed that the total station power load is reaching a critical stage and that our Gen Sets are barely up to the task.

Fitness testing by Lynn Williams continued today.

Winds were too strong for Nanok to manoeuvre safely, nobody came ashore until 1.00pm, and she did not leave until 7.00pm after we used a 950 as a hauling bollard, in the RTA dump area, so that she could swing her bow to the East and safely move out of the harbour.


28/2  Max temp 6.9C, min temp 14.2C, wind from the East, max gust 37 knots.

Davis people ashore after lunch. VL spoke to all Mawson expeditioners at 1.30pm about behaviour on Icebird and expectations. Chris Morrison took 4 Larcies onto the plateau after lunch. Tidying up, still a hive of activity. Station Leader taking photos of sea containers used for food storage. EPH guys still hard at it with converting the station load onto the EPH. Fire alarm in the morning with the loss of power. Made life interesting with the raising of the EVS door, no alarm in the Old Station and the loss of the repeater and Channel 7. Backloading of the last couple of E containers, cage pallets and WOV container. All Davis personnel back to the ship at 5.00pm. Showed the Captain and the VL around the husky display. After dinner presented Mal Stewart, LARC Captain, with a gift which was reciprocated. I followed this by a presentation to the Captain of the “Icebird” of a book. The captain gave me a bottle of Glenfiddich for the cold winter months. I thanked everyone for the summer and one of the Davis expeditioners thanked us all for our hospitality and then it was everyone out to the ship. All were aboard by 9.30pm and so endeth the summer.



Windy and cold all day, reached 50 knots early this afternoon. The AA sailed from Casey last night, heading for Macquarie Island with Jane Golding, our favourite weather forecaster aboard. We’ve still got event-specific forecasts on request and with notice, but from Hobart or Melbourne.

Wally finished the air-inlet flue on the MPH this afternoon in bitter conditions. The load testing has not been satisfactorily completed – one engine is refusing to take load to specification. PI will continue investigations tomorrow. The EPH hasn’t been trouble free either, with one of the engines there not doing its full share of the work. I feel sincerely sorry for Don and all the tradies who’ve worked so hard and such long hours in the MPH this week – and dealt with a string of emerging problems.

The Mess chairs were steam cleaned for Station Duties, also the helipad mats straightened out and weighed down. Next week we need to sort out all the rotten potatoes.

Lovely relaxed evening meal – a mixed grill “buffet” on the pool table, with your choice of lemon meringue pie or custard tart.

First Mawson logbook, 1954
The first station logbook, 1954
(Photo: John Burgess)
Log entry 28th Feb 1954
February 28th 1954
(Photo: John Burgess)
1964 Mawson logbook
1964 Station log
(Photo: John Burgess)
Station Logs 1954, 1964, 1974, 1984, 1994, 2004
Station Logs 1954, 1964, 1974, 1984, 1994, 2004
(Photo: John Burgess)
Mawson, home to expeditioners for more than 60 years
Mawson, home to expeditioners for more than 60 years
(Photo: John Burgess)
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