This week at the station

This week at Mawson: 3 May 2013

ANZAC Day

Although ANZAC day was actually last week, we were unable to submit our pictures and story until this week – such is the process of getting the station news onto the “net” from the deep south.

Our ANZAC day commenced with a light breakfast of ANZAC biscuits (thanks Cliffy) and then a dawn service. Fortunately at Mawson, dawn is at a more reasonable time in the morning (close to 9am!) at this time of year. Graham Cook, with help from Justin, Trent and Luc put together an emotional but fitting commemoration to all those who suffered, or continue to suffer, through war.

Both NZ and Australian flags were flown together in recognition of the many times where New Zealanders and Australians have served together in war – but also in peace.

Later on, a scrumptious BBQ lunch was served, and the traditional “Two-up” was played down at the diesos' workshop. To keep with tradition, wagering was allowed (with monopoly money of course), and after countless enthusiastic throws, Keldyn was awarded the ultimate prize winner. A total of $350 was raised on station that was donated to Legacy Australia. We thank Trent and the many other event helpers for organising all of the ANZAC activities. It was a memorable and enjoyable day for all.

ANZAC Day poster
Lest we forget

(Photo: Justin Chambers)

Two-up Anzac Day
Two-up played with much enthusiasm and spirit

(Photo: Justin Chambers)

Cliff Davis plays Two-up
Cliffy - always keen

(Photo: Chris Stevenson)

Aus and NZ flags Anzac Day
Australian and NZ flags fly proudly in the Mawson katabatic winds

(Photo: Chris Stevenson)

New news is good news

Another small event that occurred at Mawson this week was the upgrade from black and white newspapers to colour. This was due to the installation of a new large format colour laser printer. We are informed that colour printing is generally no more expensive than basic black and white. You can certainly see the difference with our news readers! 

Reading newspapers in blk and white
Before colour printing

(Photo: Chris Stevenson)

Reading new colour newspapers
After colour printing

(Photo: Chris Stevenson)

More snow and the monthly weather breakdown

April at Mawson station has come to an end which is not a bad thing considering mother nature has done her very best trying to bury the station. April has equalled the 1996 record for days of constant blizzards (10 all up) and associated snow. Huge blizz tails have blocked off all access paths between buildings/workplaces. This is what the 'hardened Mawson expeditioner' revels in. The following photos tell it all on the first clear day in weeks. 

Mawson April 2013 Climate Summary

Third month on station for the expeditioners of the 66th ANARE crew.

It was a very windy month with about average temperatures. The month was characterised by more Gales, Strong Wind and snow days than what is normally expected with a record high number of blizzards. The high amount of blizzard days reduced the amount of sunlight dramatically.

Temperatures

At Mawson during April we expect:

A maximum mean temperature of about -11.7°C. The average maximum for the month was -12.0°C. The lowest maximum was –19.0°C and the highest -06.0°C

A minimum mean temperature of about -17.3°C. The average minimum for the month was -17.3°C. The lowest minimum was -24.9°C and the highest -9.9°C.

The coldest April day on record at Mawson was -28.3°C on 23 April 1998. 

Wind

The average daily wind run (the measure of how many kilometres of wind pass the station in 24 hours) was 1147.9 km per day for the month. This is above the long term average of 944 km per day.

The maximum wind gust for April was 170 km/h from SE recorded on 13 April. The record gust for April is 234 km/h recorded on 18 April 1972.

Blizzard conditions were recorded on 10 days for April, with 3.6 expected. We are on par with a long standing record of 10 blizzards during April 1996. A total of 17 blizzards for 2013 so far.

There were 21 gales compared to 13.8 expected for April, 29 days of strong wind, with 26.6 the average. 15 days of snowfall were observed, well above the expected average of 4.6 days.

A strong wind day has wind in excess of 41 km/h and a Gale is wind in excess of 63 km/h. 

Sunshine

Daily sunshine at Mawson for April averaged 2.2 hours per day which was well below the expected 3.9 hours 

Summary

In general April was in line with the long term mean temperatures. We had 20% more wind then expected and the amount of days of blizzard, blowing snow and snow fall were well above the average resulting in only 64.8 hours of sunshine for the month.

John Burgess digs snow
John digs his work

(Photo: Geoff Brealey)

Cliff Davis at blizz tail
Cliff fires up the incinerator but has trouble leaving

(Photo: Geoff Brealey)

Jeremy Little  in the cab of a loader which is filled with snow and ice
Jeremy has located the steering wheel. Now for the ignition switch

(Photo: Geoff Brealey)

Jeremy Little at bottom of blizz tail
Always follow that blizz line in a whiteout

(Photo: Geoff Brealey)

Jeremy Little on blizz tail
Blizz line buried. No problem as the true intrepid spirit kicks in

(Photo: Geoff Brealey)

Large blizz tail at Mawson
Paradise - who needs Mt Hotham?

(Photo: Geoff Brealey)

Our John of all trades cleans up

All of us on station have more than one role down here. Take myself for example. Back in the real world I’m a boilermaker/welder (when I work that is). I’m down here at Mawson as a plumber but seem to spend most of my time cleaning up rubbish and making sure Keldyn ties his shoe laces.

John is our resident field training officer. This involves making sure that we’re all properly trained to survive while out in the field. 

One of the other roles/jobs John has while he’s down here is storeman. While this might sound easy, it is anything but. What’s this? Is it any good? Do we send it home? These questions and more he’s asked many times during the day. Sorting out everything from the food to parts for comms and wind turbines are all in days work for our intrepid FTO.

I’m sure you all want to know a little bit more about John by now so if you wait a few weeks I’m sure he will be featured again in the station news - maybe in 'Justin’s nine'.

Stretcher lowering in training
Teaching us how to ascend and descend with a stretcher

(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)

John Burgess in field
John, supposed to be working but looking more like a tourist

(Photo: Peter Layt)

Masson Range from up high with expeditioner smiling on left
Wow, they pay me to do this?

(Photo: Peter Layt)

An expeditioner repels on cabels from a wall during training
He makes it look so easy

(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)

John Burgess in David Range
Didn't look this high from down there!

(Photo: Peter Cubit)

John Burgess in Mawson store
John in the store. The supermarkets back home don't look this clean...

(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)

J's nine with Keldyn

His first time down here, Keldyn Francis, a plumber and second half of the S.P.U.D team, full of energy, wit and enthusiasm, takes on 'the nine'.

Our interview takes place this week on a well worn piece of carpet just in front of the bar. Over a game of darts (Shanghai) and freshly brewed coffee we delve into the world that is Keldyn. First up, freshly ground Vittoria Brazil Rex coffee beans that have been converted into a steaming cappuccino by the Rancilio machine located in the mess. Powdered milk is turned into frothy foam and then dusted with cocoa powder, flights are adjusted and a sense that something big is about to happen descends upon the dimly lit room.

Hailing from the small town of Melbourne you’ve managed to work around the place. What motivated you to apply for Antarctica?

Keldyn throws a couple of twenties to kick start the game.

Well I was in Mackay and work was getting a bit quiet up there in the mines and such. So I was doing a job search on the internet and came across the AAD website. I was just looking around at what was available, job wise, and that site came up. I applied and didn’t think much of it. I actually thought it was a real long shot. When I was a first year apprentice I read up about the opportunities available in the Antarctic, and yeah so later on when I saw the ad I just had to apply.

I throw my poorly aimed darts and begin the slow push to get back into the game.

I guess I’m lucky to have a trade that allows me the opportunity to come down here.

Enter Cliff: Can you believe this? Does he have to be in every interview?

“Hey guys. Alright time out! I’ve put your food in trays downstairs” (This means kitchen shopping brought back from the green store) “Thanks mate”. Spuds do it again.

Did you come down here with any pre-conceived ideas? And if so, describe them.

No. I didn’t.

Darts: his triples now all out.

I guess I just take it as it comes. I think travelling has done that to me in general. When you start out you have an idea of what a place is like, and when you get there it’s different? So, um, yeah it’s – “it is what it is”. It’s definitely a great challenge down here. You wouldn’t think there’s much to do, but you end up running out of time.

Or scoring lots of points against an interviewer that can’t multitask.

Can you explain the difference between life back home and down here for yourself?

The difference down here is each day you get to choose what you do at work - a little different from back home a lot of the time. So like there’s a job list you can choose from each day and you get to do as little or as much as you like. So then I sort of want to do as much as I can.

Always work with this guy.

It’s been amazing, probably more amazing than I thought it would be. I can understand why people want to come down here again and again. It sort of gets in your blood I guess. The days are always changing due to the Antarctic conditions.

And so is my luck in the game with beds all out and only bulls to go.

It’s only early days yet, but are there things miss having around or thought you’d miss but don’t?

I guess every now and then I’d like to see my family, like I’d miss anyway. I don’t really miss anything else really. I’m quite contented actually, yeah.

Thanks for the elaboration mate - it made great reading.

You’re growing your hair and making an attempt likewise on your face. What is the motivation for this?

Why not? I think it keeps things a little warmer down here. I’m not sure? I think those that know me, know I like to try different things. I’m always doing something different.

So in a nutshell, letting yourself go is just being different?

I wouldn’t really say I was letting myself go? It’s just a new style.

So you’re not doing this to impress the station leader?

Nah. I reckon he’s already impressed.

Hahaha!

How much about Antarctica did you know before coming down here?

I just manage to beat Kel in our first game. It’s one of the closest we’ve had. “Want another?” “Sure, let’s go.” And so it begins again.

I knew about penguins.

Keldyn gets the twenties out again and starts scoring. What the?

I knew it was cold. I knew it was remote. I guess I knew as much of it as anybody else back home. I think most people think there are polar bears down here, and I probably did too at one stage, until I found out a bit more about it. I sort of look things up before I came down here. I read a few books. I read up about Mawson. At first I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to go to Casey or Davis, the bigger stations. But then I did a bit more research and found out that this place is pretty awesome.

Are you thinking about what you’d like to achieve when you get back home?

Ah, not really. I’m just like, it doesn’t matter. Wherever the work, is I’ll go. I don’t know where that will be. It might be overseas? Interstate? I would like to go back and see my sister in South Africa - it’s high up there on the list. Catch up with family, yeah. It depends on the mines and what work is happening. With the mines, it’s not just about the work; it’s also about what you do with your down time, your weeks off. So yeah, I’m thinking about that.

So your darts playing is progressing nicely down here. Are there any other interests that you’re also pursuing?

Photography. Just taking photos and working out how to edit in Photoshop and Lightroom. I want to take away some photos of down here. I can’t take coming down here for granted so I’ve got to make the most of it.

I know how you feel.

Last words?

I’d definitely come back down. I’ll definitely reapply. I’d love to come back down here.

Thanks Keldyn, not only for throwing the game (as if I was the station leader Cookie), but for putting such a great effort into everything you do down here for us. I think the tap maybe dripping on Mt Henderson?

Keldyn Francis turns to look at the camera while making a coffee
Keldyn makes a coffee for the interview

(Photo: Justin Chambers)

Keldyn Francis sits in shadow on a couch and sips a mug of coffee
A quiet setting selected

(Photo: Justin Chambers)

Darts in bullseye
in for the kill, another hustle round

(Photo: Justin Chambers)

This page was last modified on 16 December 2010.