This week at the station

This week at Mawson: 8 March 2013

Commemorative visit

Mawson is renown for many things, but good boating weather (once summer is over) isn’t one of them. All of us here on station are ‘experts’ when it comes to deciding when would be good times to take the boats out so after constantly pestering Cookie day in day out to let us go, he finally cracked and the rumour spread around station like wildfire: the boats are going out! Due to everyone being well prepared for such an occasion, once the go ahead was given we were dressed, packed and underway in no time. The primary objective was more than a mere recreational trip. We were headed for the Kellas Islands, just to the NNW of station. These two islands were named after Bill Kellas, who wintered at Mawson in 1959-60. Mr Kellas is the late stepfather of our very own Craig H. Bill passed away last month while Craig was travelling on the Aurora Australis to Mawson. Craig has waited patiently for the weather to calm and give him the chance to visit the islands. The trip out was smooth and once the islands were reached, Craig set foot on the larger of the two islands and spent a short time reflecting on his life with his Dad. After taking some photos of the islands and their residents, it was back into the boats. The wind began to pick up and the decision was made to head home. The trip back into the wind left us all covered in ice and shivering, but was enjoyable nonetheless. Here’s hoping we get a few more good days so we can all get out and enjoy the water before it inevitably freezes once again!

Adelies on Kellas Island
Kellas Island residents
(Photo: Craig Hayhow)
Weddell seal faces camera and is surrounded by snow with water in the background
Another island inhabitant
(Photo: Craig Hayhow)
Trent J avoids icy spray in boat
Trent gets low to avoid icy spray
(Photo: Craig hayhow)
Craig Hayhow in an inflatable boat steering the rudder
Craig at the helm heads for Kellas Islands
(Photo: Jeremy little)
Craig Hayhow on Kellas Island
Craig on Kellas Island
(Photo: Jeremy Little)

Call-out bonus

Being a tradesman in Antarctica can be challenging and rewarding with a bit of adventure thrown in. The normal work week is somewhat similar to normal life back home as well as being on-call, power house obs, fire team and station duties which are also a normal part of life down here.  

Being on call 24/7 is never much fun but I found it can have a bonus. I was called out Saturday morning at 2:30 am to investigate a station power outage. On leaving the red shed (living quarters or LQ) to walk down to the main power house (MPH) we had to stop for a minute because the sky was a mass of colours unlike anything I had seen before. This is known as an aurora and it was by far the most outstanding I have witnessed (not that I've seen too many yet). I'm sure having the station blacked out made it look more impressive. By the time we had the MPH up and going again the aurora had almost disappeared and not a photo taken! Maybe next time.

The photos attached were taken by Keldyn Francis, Mawson's up and coming photographer.

Peter Cubit

Aurora at Mawson that ends in a spiral shape just above the station
Call-out bonus
(Photo: Keldyn Francis)
Aurora at Mawson streaks across the sky above station
Aurora Australis at 2am
(Photo: Keldyn Francis)
Wind turbine and Aurora Australis in the sky above
Light show for the 10th Birthday of the turbines
(Photo: Keldyn francis)

Wandering and wondering

Since the “AA” left Mawson two weeks ago, many days have been spent unpacking cargo from the resupply. Certainly the surgery had its fair share of incoming cargo with 76 boxes unpacked. Old, expired medical stock had to be thrown out to make room on the shelves for the new incoming stock. The old stock had to be sorted and classified into five different categories before it can be RTA’d (returned to Australia for disposal). Three boxes of strange bits and pieces were found amongst the incoming cargo and, when put together, produced an exciting new machine for the surgery. The task was reminiscent of assembling an Ikea product.

This week also saw the 10th anniversary of the commissioning of the wind turbines at Mawson.

The giant jellyfish, which featured in last week’s station news, has moved a little around the Mawson harbour, but it has remained ever-present on our shores. It is enormous, about 1 metre across in size, with thick cordy tentacle which are about 1.5 metres long.

Weddell seals and Adelie penguins remain around the station in considerable numbers. They have been taking advantage of much of the good weather we've been having.

After one day of high winds, frozen seaspray was blown onto rocks on West Arm adding a mystique to Mawson station when viewed from the end of the Arm.

Many expeditioners have been sighted around Mawson this week in various disguises. Who are they?

Empty cardboard boxes stacked high against a wall
Emptied boxes stacked in the medical ward
(Photo: Lloyd Fletcher)
New Mindray anaesthetic monitor
The new Mindray anaesthetic monitor for the Mawson surgery
(Photo: Lloyd Fletcher)
Mawson turbine 10th birthday
One of the wind turbines celebrates its 10th birthday
(Photo: Lloyd Fletcher)
Giant jellyfish at Mawson
The Mawson jellyfish has become a fixture on our shores
(Photo: Lloyd Fletcher)
Adelie penguins at Mawson on a strip of snow between rocky landscapes
Adelie penguins are still being seen around station daily
(Photo: Lloyd Fletcher)
Weddell seals on West Arm sleeping in the snow
Weddell seals take their daytime naps in East Bay
(Photo: Lloyd Fletcher)
Mawson from West Arm
Mawson viewed from West Arm
(Photo: Lloyd Fletcher)
An expeditioner holds a large white balloon before release
Who is this? Hint - could be a 'Met man'
(Photo: Lloyd Fletcher)
Dressed for outside, an expeditioner has all skin covered including his face
A spiderman wannabe?
(Photo: Lloyd Fletcher)
Face imprint in snow
Oops! Who fell face first into the snow?
(Photo: Lloyd Fletcher)