This week at Mawson: 21 April 2017

Expeditioner Mark Austin describes how a week of intensive search and rescue training was balanced by a station darts competition, a visit from the Easter bunny and a menagerie of animals at the dinner table…

Mawson darts competition

This week saw the conclusion of the inaugural 2017 Mawson station darts competition.

Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks with reluctant last minute entrant Brian 'Bruiser' Jury making it all the way to the final. However he was just pipped at the post by Mawson darts maestro Mark Baker who is now the undisputed best player on station.

We will need to concentrate now on our doubles game in prep for the upcoming inter–station championships.

two men stand in front of a dart board shaking hands
Brian congratulates Mark on his win.
(Photo: Mark Austin)

Search and rescue training

On a more serious note, the ability to keep each other safe in this remote and extreme environment involves some of the most critical skills and capability we develop during our time in Antarctica.

This week the first round of search and rescue training was completed focusing on technical cliff rescue including rock, ice and snow anchors and knot tying. Using these techniques to then abseil off a vertical cliff face with a stretcher and 'rescue' a fellow expeditioner was challenging and incredibly rewarding.

It was a privilege to be trained by such an experienced and competent field training officer in Heidi.

A team of five people stand on a rock edge in harnesses and helmets
Preparations for a cliff rescue at Mawson.
(Photo: Peter Layt)
a man is hauling a stretcher over a cliff edge
Over the edge - Mark Baker rescues Mark Austin.
(Photo: Heidi Godfrey)
an anchor is wedged under a rock
Setting rock anchors.
(Photo: Heidi Godfrey)
two men set up snow anchors in a mound of ice and snow
Setting up snow anchors.
(Photo: Heidi Godfrey)
a team of six people in harnesses and helmets set up rescue ropes on a rocky edge
Team action
(Photo: Pete Layt)
A man starting to descend down a hill with a patient.
Mark supporting patient Doug – a long way to go…
(Photo: Kat Panjari)

Easter traditions at Mawson

The Easter long weekend was a welcome break from the recent intense period of training. Many on station appreciated the chance to sleep in –however a couple of little Easter bunnies were busy making up luscious hand-made liqueur chocolates, painted eggs and traditional Easter cookies to deliver outside our doors on Sunday morning – yum!

It was also great to have chef Benny join us at the Saturday night table to take a break from the kitchen and sample some home cooking from Leon and Kat. The spicy fish balls and beef and polenta pie were delicious. Benny followed up on Easter Sunday with an afternoon lamb spit roast.

Others took the opportunity to head off station to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the Framnes Mountains and recharge their batteries.

a platter of biscuits and red dyed eggs sit on a bench
Bunny, eggs and bickies ready for Easter.
(Photo: Kat Panjari)
a basket contains easter eggs, chocolates and a photo of the Easter Bunny
Easter Sunday surprise.
(Photo: Kat Panjari)
a man stands in front of a lamb on a spit roast
Easter Sunday lamb roast - chef is happy!
(Photo: Kat Panjari)
A woman holding a red egg is showing a man holding a red egg how to crack them together
Kat teaches Alex the art of cracking red eggs on Easter Sunday.
(Photo: Eddie Gault)
a mountain range glows red and purple at dusk
Mt Henderson in the evening light.
(Photo: Brian Jury)
An orange and purple sunset behind two mountain peaks
Mt Henderson at sunset.
(Photo: Brian Jury)

A mouse, a zebra and a unicorn come to dinner...

On a less serious note, 'when the Kat's away' (Kat being our station leader) the mouse and frog, zebra, crocodile, unicorn will play, with an impromptu onesies dress up party.

Wouldn't you if you had no TV, and access to a room full of animal costumes? …maybe?

Until next time, Mark Austin

7 men sit around a dinner table, some are dressed in all-in-one animal costumes
The Onesies dinner party
(Photo: Pete Layt)
6 men dressed in animal costumes are taking a selfie photo
A dinosaur, crocodile, unicorn, cat and mice at the dinner table...
(Photo: Alex Cameron)