An icy Christmas

View of Casey station from Reeve's Hill
View of Casey station from Reeve's Hill (Photo: Kristin Raw)
Davis station expeditioners in front of their Christmas treeExpeditioners relax in the Davis station living quarters surrounded by Christmas decorationsA festive telescope looks out over the icebergs near Davis stationChristmas treats produced by the Station chef

The wonder of a white Christmas is guaranteed for a select group of expeditioners at Australia’s Antarctic stations.

There are 208 people celebrating Christmas at Australia’s Casey, Davis and Mawson stations this year, and on the sub Antarctic Macquarie Island.

Casey Station Leader, Bill de Bruyn, is looking forward to his fourth white Christmas on the continent and his first at Casey.

Bill said everyone on station is involved in cooking and serving the festive feast, setting the tables and even ironing the tablecloths.

“Traditionally the day starts with a Christmas brunch and then a full formal sit down meal at night. The kitchen staff work for weeks to prepare, and it's one of the biggest days on station,” he said.

On Casey’s menu this year are the traditional roasts, seafood and Christmas puddings.

The chef has a good selection of fresh ingredients to prepare an impressive spread after Australia’s icebreaker the Aurora Australis resupplied the station a few weeks ago.

Beverages include boutique beer brewed by expeditioners on station.

Although Father Christmas hails from the opposite end of the globe, Bill said he’s scheduled to make an appearance on a sled built by the station carpenters.

“We all bring a gift from home or make something on station to give to a fellow expeditioner. We have some extremely talented craftsman and we see some beautiful gifts made.

“Occasionally we may have visitors from other Antarctic programs like the French, Chinese or Italians drop by. That is always a special occasion. Last year at Davis I had five Russians drop in via helicopter for Christmas dinner, and their gift was to sing Russian songs after the meal!”

Celebrations such as Christmas and Midwinter’s Day are an important morale booster for expeditioners who are away from family and friends, sometimes for a year or more.

Expeditioners contact family and friends via the internet or by phone on Christmas Day.

“It is a time of reflection and a time when we do think of home. But we are privileged to be in Antarctica and experience a white Christmas, something not a lot of Australians get to do,” said Bill.

Watch the video below of Davis station expeditioners decorating their living quarters for Christmas.

Merry white Christmas to all!