Midwinters, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year — on the 22 July the sun starts returning and before we know it we’ll have 24 hours of daylight. How quickly the seasons change down here!
Back to midwinters, this is the biggest celebration on the Antarctic calendar, an event that all here celebrate in varying ways, regardless of what country people are from or on what part of the continent their base is situated. It’s not just Antarctica where midwinters is celebrated either, especially by those people who have been fortunate enough to have summered or wintered on this magnificent continent previously. Every year hundreds of people attend midwinters dinners all over Australia with the biggest being held in Hobart, Tasmania — over 200 guests attending. Many friends are reunited, stories swapped and tales told. It’s nice to know that many of our friends are celebrating at home as we are celebrating down here.
As a general rule at Australian stations, and indeed for us here at Casey, this year midwinters 22 June encompasses a huge day. In fact, we saved some earlier public holidays and made ours last five days. The day is started with brunch, followed by a dip in the ocean (weather permitting), a meal that often goes on for hours interspersed with readings, poems, toasts, messages from home and the like, and in the late evening some locally produced entertainment often followed by the screening of that quintessential Antarctic movie, ‘The Thing’. This year we also threw in a midwinter olympics — ‘The Red Shed Games’ — comprising various events from mini golf and carpet bowls in the red shed to curling and ice hockey using ice pucks and curling ice (stones).*
Despite Scotty’s birthday, post-dinner entertainment by Elvis and Roy, games, movies and so on, the most anticipated event of our five days of celebrations, spoken about for months in the lead up, is the midwinters dinner. This year was no exception, taking months of planning, weeks of preparation and several days of prep time including the day itself. This year our chef at Casey, Eddie, did an outstanding job preparing our ten courses, although we only got through nine (we ran out of time and stomach capacity). It was an event to remember for years to come. Below are some photos of the day that will better sum up our event, so I’ll sign off and let them do the talking.
*to be reported in next week’s edition of ‘This Week At Casey'.