This week at the station

This week at Mawson: 22 February 2013

Cliff's incredible journey to Mawson

Cliff’s incredible journey to Mawson

What a journey it’s been for me this summer. So much of the continent covered to get to Mawson for winter.

It started with me flying into McMurdo and spending a few days getting reacquainted with some of the sights and facilities they have around there. Included in this was a quick visit to Scott Base.

Next, an uncomfortable but memorable flight on a Hercules soon saw me at Casey, where a few weeks was spent working on the 'West Wing'.

I made it to Davis in time for Christmas celebrations and, on Boxing Day, landed on the sea ice at Mawson. I was privileged to have had Bob, Mike and Perry put up with my whinging and moaning about the poor cabin service all the way from Casey to Mawson. (Gonna miss you guys.) But they showed me some amazing sights along the way.  

I’m so very lucky and my season is only just beginning. It can only get better. Many thanks to everyone who’s made this possible. Woohoo!

Cliff Simpson Davis

Mt erebus
Mt Erebus
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
McMurdo Base, The Chalet
The Chalet, McMurdo Base
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Discovery Hut - an old wooden hut surrounded by snow
Discovery Hut which was built by Scott Feb 1902
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Two expeditioners lean over a sign for Scott Base
Scott Base
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Mountains near McMurdo station
Mountain range near McMurdo
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
An expeditioner leans on the tall Casey signpost
At Casey
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
An expeditioners sits cross-legged at the bottom of the Davis signpost
At Davis
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Cliff Simpson and pilot Bob Heath arm in arm in front of a red and white light plane
With Bob Heath at Casey
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
A large iceberg photographed from above
Bergs from the air
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Bharati station, Larsemann Hills, photographed from above
The new Indian station, Bharati, in the Larsemann Hills
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Antanov biplane in the snow at Progress skiway
Antanov biplane at Progress skiway
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
A new building at Zhong Shan base with a futuristic geometric shape
New building at the Chinese station, Zhong Shan
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Chinese Antarctic station Zhong Shan photographed from afar with snow surrounding it
The Chinese Station, Zhong Shan
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Cliff at Mawson sitting inside, underneath a photo of Sir Douglas Mawson and the station's wood and metal Mawson sign
Cliff, at Mawson, at last
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)

John and Cookie revisit the Framnes Mountains

Both John and I have been to Mawson some years ago and have been very keen to get back here. Why? Well, Mawson is a special place.

The station sits on a small outcrop of ice-free rock with the Antarctic plateau literally on the doorstep. It is cold, windy and isolated like most of Antarctica but it is also breathtakingly beautiful. Nestled in among the glaciated ice sheet just a few kilometres inland from the station is the Framnes Mountains, a series of jagged ranges, amazing peaks, frozen lakes and wind sculpted snowscapes that would make even the most sedentary armchair adventurer sit up and breathe an ooh or aah of delight on seeing this incredible place. 

For John and I, duty called. We needed to get out in the hills to check the huts, get familiar with the local area and locate any hazards before we embarked on the field training program for all on station. Not such an onerous task when one has been wanting to revisit the Framnes for so long. So last week we saw a couple of good weather days and grabbed the chance to head inland. Niether of us were disappointed - the mountains are still awesome though for me they looked a lot higher and steeper than they were when I last climbed several of them in 2005. I think the gym needs a few visits before I go running up those hills. John on the other hand is built like a greyhound and cant wait to be let off the leash. 

Accompanying us on our trip were my mascot of five winters now, Cookie Monster (given to me by Wendy H at the AAD when I first came south) and his new friend, a yet to be named husky pup. The husky will travel with me throughout the year and send stories back to the kids at Nambucca Heads primary school where my daughter, Leah, is teaching. The kids who have just started their year will name the dog and follow his adventures while learning about Antarctica.

Enough for now. Look at the photos and get a glimpse of why Mawson is so special.

Graham Cook

Mt Henderson behind Mawson station
Mt Henderson looming behind Mawson
(Photo: Graham Cook)
A close view of Mt Henderson taken from Lake Henderson
Mt Henderson, from Lake Henderson
(Photo: Graham Cook)
Small and red Fang Hut with two quad bikes parked just outside and snowy peaks in the background
Fang Hut, Central Masson range in background
(Photo: Graham Cook)
Painted Peak, rock juts out from snowy surrounds
Painted Peak in the Northern Masson range
(Photo: Graham Cook)
An expeditioner poses in the shadow of a high, icy wall created by a wind scour
John at the Fearn Hill wind scour
(Photo: Graham Cook)
Rumdoodle Hut is dwarfed by rocky peaks just behind and you can see snow in the foreground
Rumdoodle Hut in Northern Masson range
(Photo: Graham Cook)
Stuffed animals of Cookie Monster and a husky sit on a quad bike
Cookie Monster and the yet to be named husky ride shotgun
(Photo: Graham Cook)

A brief update from Geoff

A catch up from Geoff or 'Fossil' to most.

Back for another winter and enjoying the good company and scenery. Resupply ran smoothly thanks to all 2012 summerers and winterers (will miss them) and incoming 2013 expeditioners.

They’ve returned! Hand sculptured snow petrels are flying in the Mess area once again, thanks to Rowdy who found them.

Who created them? My reckoning says it was 2007/8 Chef Zane H & Nick C, or maybe they were only giving them a facelift. Not quite sure they are as good as the real thing, but they have adapted to station life and now prefer bacon to krill.

Mawson - still awesome.

A snow petrel model hangs from the ceiling inside Mawson station
Model snow petrel prefers bacon
(Photo: Geoff Brealey)
Snow petrel model hands from ceiling inside Mawson station
Another snowie model
(Photo: Geoff Brealey)
Eleaphant seal dusted with snow photographed near metal steps leading to a small building at Mawson station
Visiting elephant seal nosing around station
(Photo: Geoff Brealey)
Geoff Brealey lies on snow with many emperor pnguins in the background
Geoff flat out as usual
(Photo: Unknown)

Settling in

As usual, the news is full of pictures, as pictures tend to tell the story better than words. This week was full of action as the Mawson crew completed its first week of the winter season. Maintenance and science work commenced soon after waving the Aurora Australis goodbye.

Our first wintering weekend saw us experience our first “full on” blizzard on Saturday, and later that evening our first Saturday dinner (thanks to Justin) was an exceptional feast of restaurant style cuisine which impressed us all.

On Monday we celebrated our first expeditioner birthday –Trent, who throughout the celebrations, maintained he was still one of the youngest and fittest on station and he proved his stamina by working “ALL DAY”. Later that evening, he played an almost record number of pool and darts games until he was virtually the last one standing.

Field training commenced this week with many expeditioners venturing out into the field under the supervision of our wintering FTO John B. While our chef was off station on training, there have been quite a few substitute chefs very keen to take on the demanding job of feeding all the workers and successfully meeting the high standards of all the diners.

We have had quite a few wildlife visitors to the station this week, starting off with an impressive display of about 100 snow petrels flying around East Bay over the weekend, plus our semi-resident elephant seal and “fuel farm” penguin - both who seem to be very comfortable hanging about the station. Can’t blame them really, as we feel the same.

Until next week.

Regards from Mawson.

Expeditioner poses with electrician themed birthday cake featuring warning sticker and words written out in electrical cords made of icing
Birthday boy Trent
(Photo: Keldyn Francis)
Electrician themed birthday cake featuring warning sticker and words written out in electrical cords made of icing
The electrician's cake by Justin
(Photo: Keldyn Francis)
An expeditioner does work lying down on his back in the kitchen at one of the deep fryers
Cliff lying down on the job (again)
(Photo: Chris Stevenson)
Geoff Brealey at work outside near storage drums with excavator in background
Geoff, always happy at work
(Photo: Chris Stevenson)
A large excavator is clearing snow
And Geoff has found the best way to dispose of excess snow
(Photo: Chris Stevenson)
Keldyn Francis in kitchen holding a rubber rat over a large pot on the stove
Master Chef Keldyn, first time in the kitchen - a good time…
(Photo: Chris Stevenson)
Elephant seal on station lying around near wooden poles
Our friendly ele pops up all over station
(Photo: Chris Stevenson)
Adelie penguin on low concrete wall at Mawson station, large metal drums in background
The station's friendly Adelie penguin
(Photo: Chris Stevenson)
Weddell seal on back looking at camera from icy ground
Wait, more wildlife! A young Weddell seal is also visiting
(Photo: Chris Stevenson)
ARPANSA filter change by Craig Heyhow in a lab wearing a white coat posing in front of a metal box
Craig changes a filter for monitoring background radiation for Australia's radiation labs
(Photo: Chris Stevenson)