This week at the station

This week at Mawson: 8 February 2013

Preparation for resupply

I am writing this segment at 9am Thursday 7 February, Day two of the annual Mawson resupply. The wind is blowing at 40 knots (74kph) and the Aurora Australis is riding out the storm at sea. Horseshoe Harbour is free of ice. The last section of sea ice drifted away at 10pm last night. The 56 people on Station which includes the 2012 and 2013 winter teams, summer team, aircrew, water craft operators, plant operator, beachmaster, project people, communication operator, chefs and slushies are performing their handovers and the major projects to be conducted during this allocated eight day period.

There was a hive of activity on station before the ship arrived on schedule on Tuesday. Some of these jobs included the carpenters making the footings for the ARPANSA steps, the plumbers checking the melt bell (the creator of our water supply) and the mechanics clearing snow in the wharf area and using the excavator to break up the very thick sea ice attached to the land. Chef Ray produced another of his excellent Saturday night dinners.

The fine weather saw many walking out along West Arm taking photographs of the penguins swimming in the crystal clear water, minke whales blowing and orcas checking out the ice floes for sleepy Weddell seals. We witnessed some amazing sunsets and a magnificent solar pillar one evening.

The current storm is predicted to abate on Friday and following this the Aurora Australis will be moored in Horseshoe Harbour on Saturday ready to continue cargo operations and the refuelling of the station. 

Two expeditioners standing beside a cement mixer and wheel barrow
Paul F and Chris G preparing to pour concrete for the ARPANSA…
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
Expeditioner measuring the depth of water in the melt bell cavern
Pete measuring the depth of water in the melt bell cavern
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
Expeditioner in loader moving snow
Geoff in the loader moving snow
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
Expeditioner in D7 dozer pushing snow
Jeremy in D7 dozer pushing snow
(Photo: Vick Heinrich)
Mini Baileys cheesecake with raspberry coulis and cream
Mini Baileys cheesecake with raspberry coulis and cream
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
A photo taken from a helicopter looking down on a crane lifting a Hagglunds all terrain vehicle from a jet barge
Unloading a Hagglunds from a jet barge
(Photo: Chris George)
A jagged rocky island surrounded by sea-ice with ice plateau behind
An island on the way to Colbeck
(Photo: Chris George)
A field hut in ice following a large summer melt
Colbeck hut now sitting in ice following a massive summer melt
(Photo: Chris George)
Looking across the ice floes in West Bay with a mountain range rising out of the Antarctic plateau behind
Looking across West Bay to the David range
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
Adelie penguins swimming on the surface
Adelie penguins swimming on the surface
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
The buildings of Mawson station with the Antarctic plateau rising steeply behind the station
The jewel in the crown
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)

Beche report 5 - the ultimate report from the island

The penguins have had a great summer this year, with nearly 1100 chicks still in the colony and numbers have stayed steady for a week. The skuas are still trying to pick chicks off, but not very successfully when the chicks are almost the size of adults. One chick was over 5kg this week! It won’t be long now and the first few will head out on their big adventure. 

We celebrated our last Saturday night dinner on the island this week with a delicious three course meal. We had invited people from Mawson and Australia, but strangely no one turned up. Perhaps too far to swim? Our work is now finished out here and, as day 40 on the island ticked over, the good ship Aurora Australis cruised down Kista Strait to Mawson. So, it is time to pack up camp for another year and head back to a place where the penguin calls can’t be heard at night, glaciers and icebergs don’t line the horizon and petrel is spelt with an ‘o’ and isn’t nearly as charismatic. But it will be a place with a shower, loved ones and fresh food!

Julie McInnes*

*Julie and Helen left Bechervaise Island on Wednesday 6th February and after two hours penguin work on Welch Island, they returned to Mawson.

A golden yellow sky with the dark image of land and a penguin
Another perfect sunset on Beche
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
The chicks are nearly the same height as the adults and fatter
Chicks nearly adult height and fatter
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
A chick starting to assume adult plumage
A chick looking grown up
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
Nori rolls with tuna and pickled ginger and a white wine
Entree for the "End of Island" dinner
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
Quiche, vegetable and goat cheese crumble and a fine red
Main course accompanied by a fine red
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
Chocolate, cherry and pear tart and Bailey Balls, port and baileys
Chocolate, cherry and pear tart and Bailey balls, port and baileys
(Photo: Julei McInnes)
A sunset shot with the smartie shaped huts and Apple shelter silhouetted in the foreground
Packing up camp
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
The orange Sip in Horseshoe Harbour with Mawson and ice plateau behind
The ship entering Horseshoe Harbour to break up the ice
(Photo: Julie McInnes)

Meat in a cone

It was during the ferocious whipping of a late night Mawson blizz that the urban legend of “meat in a cone” was born, slightly helped with the creative juices of the Nanutuk Brewery. A young Jeremy Little, Anders Hamilton, Adam “the Buzz” Davies, Paul ”the Pom” Farrow and Chef “ El Raymondo Del Magnifico” came across the newest sensation to sweep across the Antarctic plateau and go all the way to the pole one day: meat in a cone. 
Yes! that's right. No longer must the poor homo sapien carnivores succumb to just digesting their organically carbonized and palatable substances in the “normal” fashion on a porcelain serving implement. Now you can combine the two best courses of life into one sustainable and incredibly efficient multi course in one “meat in a cone”.
The basic premise was first discovered at Mawson station while the above-mentioned were enjoying a few relaxing drinks out on the sun deck. The idea of a cone filled with meat was the start, then quickly evolved into a savoury cone specially made with different “flavours” of meat, with expeditioners being able to mix and match as you would your ice cream - pulled pork and proscuittio, chilli con carne topped with crunchy bacon shavings - the variations and the list were endless.
Unfortunately the idea never made it past the basic great idea, there being talk of moulds made especially for the construction of the cone, until a few weeks later with resupply looming and the threat of invasion of saner bodies, Ray the chef decided to push it through, develop and construct the living legend that has become “meat in a cone”.
On the 2nd February 2013 amid the last dying rays of a beautiful Mawson day, the dream was finally realized. The unsuspecting population of a small remote Antarctic station were about to have the first human experience and contact with another, better form of dietary consumption, stacked atop a blinding silver platter radiating its true magnificence and standing proud. “Meat in a cone” was finally unleashed - a lightly toasted thin savory cone with a poached chicken and gherkin mayonnaise salsa, topped with a walnut bacon and chicken liver parfait and finished with a rolled wafer of baked prosciutto. It was subsequently destroyed and vanquished within seconds of its brief appearance in our reality. The ecstatic convulsions that ensued with digestion aided in the further consumption of the courses that followed later to end our final weekend together on this most amazing of places.
It’s windy.
It’s beautiful.
It’s Mawson.
The home of meat in a cone!

Ray Smith

A silver plate with a pate type meat in a cone
Meat in a cone presented as a canape in the lounge before…
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Under the Mawson sign another signboard states Home of Meat in a Cone
Mawson: Home of "meat in a cone"
(Photo: Chris George)