Five Australians have been awarded the Australian Antarctic Medal in recognition of their outstanding service with Australian Antarctic expeditions. The awards, announced today (Wednesday 21st of June, 2000) by the Governor-General, His Excellency Sir William Deane AC, KBE, are made each year on Midwinter’s Day, a traditional day of celebration for Antarctic expedition members since the days of Mawson, Shackleton and Scott.

Recipients of the 2000 award are:

  • Mr John Jones of Taigum, Queensland
  • Mr Nicolas Mortimer of Mount Hawthorn, Western Australia
  • Dr Madeleine Wilcock of Adelaide, South Australia
  • Mr Jason Reinke of Gympie, Queensland
  • Mr Garry Watson of Cheltenham, Victoria

Mr Jones has been awarded the Australian Antarctic Medal for outstanding leadership in his many roles at Davis station in 1998. As the Winter Trades Team Leader, Senior Plumber, Station Fire Officer, Winter Stores Person, Station Environment Officer and Waste Management Officer, Mr Jones set consistently high standards for his team members and by his unflagging example ensured these were always met. Members of the Chinese Antarctic Research Expedition at nearby Zhong Shan station also benefited from his advice and direct assistance on many occasions.

In October last year an expeditioner was involved in a serious crevasse accident near Mawson station. The oversnow cycle she was driving plummeted into a crevasse concealed by snow and she fell five metres before being pinned between the crevasse wall and the vehicle. The rescue team comprised Mr Mortimer, Mr Reinke and Mr Watson and the Medical Officer Dr Wilcock.

Mr Watson descended the crevasse to secure the injured expeditioner for rescue. Dr Wilcock revived the patient and, together with the Medical Officer from the Resupply Vessel, conducted major abdominal surgery assisted by the medical team of Mr Reinke, Mr Watson and Mr Mortimer. This team was also responsible for assisting with intensive care of the patient and, when she developed complications, further surgery and care at Mawson station.

The courage, dedication and commitment of this group of people was outstanding and the ultimate recovery of the patient, thousands of kilometres from the nearest hospital, a tribute to their care.

The Australian Antarctic Medal ranks immediately below the Conspicuous Service Medal (awarded to military personnel) in the Australian Order of Wearing of Honours and Awards.