Preparations are underway at Davis for the annual midwinters celebrations, a continent-wide tradition.

Nick’s cartoon of the week

Farewell Glenn…

The Australian Antarctic Division is about to say farewell to one of its favourite colleagues, and for us on station, one of our friends.

Farewell Glenn — thank you for your support, your wonderful humour and your friendship. All the best and remember to stay in touch — from your friends at Davis Station.

Midwinter preparations

Excitement is mounting as the annual celebration of midwinters day — the most significant occasion of the year for Antarctic communities —  is fast approaching.

This day has been celebrated since the early 1900s. Midwinter in Antarctica marks the equinox and the slow return of the sun. A dinner to mark the occasion on 22 June 1912 was a merry and harmonious celebration at Main Base (Mawson’s Hut), Commonwealth Bay. Walter Hannam and Francis Bickerton prepared the meal.

Mawson wrote :

“Their menu to us was a marvel of gorgeous delicacies. After the toasts and speeches came a musical and dramatic programme, punctuated by choice choruses. The washing up was completed by all hands at midnight. Outside, the wind was not to be undone; it surpassed itself with an unusual burst of ninety-five miles per hour.”

Saturday 21 June, 2014 Antarctic stations will host a celebration dinner, people will dress up in their best clothes and formal toasts will honour those who have gone south before us.

However, before midwinters day arrives, there’s lots to do including:

  • 'Invitations’ which have been sent to family, friends, colleagues, celebrities and VIPs
  • Responding to RSVPs
  • Kitchen well stocked of special treats put aside for this event
  • Additional helpers in the kitchen supporting the chef
  • Swim hole selected and prepared
  • Outdoor hot tub modified and positioned
  • Media interviews
  • Play rehearsals
  • Davis Radio DJs selecting the best dance music

With the good humour, and often odd displays of behaviour, Australians working in Antarctica are renowned for we are expecting a day we will remember. We, the 20 good looking and extremely lucky Australians, will be thinking of ANARE members, previous expeditioners, our colleagues, family and friends back home and our Antarctic neighbours on this very special day.

Don’t miss next weeks edition for the latest news and photos of midwinter celebrations at Davis.

Who’s who on station

Lesley Eccles — Chef and Deputy Station Leader

What did you do before this?

I started out as an apprentice chef with the Royal NZ Air Force but that was a long time ago. My career as a chef has taken me down many paths —  I’ve spent many years working for international hotel chains as a head chef, owned my own restaurant in Brisbane for seven years and have also worked as a commercial cook trainer and assessor.

Why Antarctica?

It’s something I have always wanted to do from a very young age. As a child I loved seeing photos and documentaries on Antarctica — the icebergs and penguins. It’s a place very few people get to experience and this is probably why I have always been attracted to Antarctica. I had the opportunity years ago to winter however circumstances beyond my control didn’t allow it to eventuate, but that is now history and a dream has come true.

As most documentaries only show the scenery and wildlife I hadn’t really thought about the small isolated community and how individuals from varying backgrounds work and live together. When you work here you soon come to realise most of what you experience is either with the community or about the community, certainly a positive experience for us all.

Previous Antarctic experience?

This is my first winter however I’ve worked two summers prior to my current deployment. Casey summer 2011/12 and Davis 2012/13.

How do you spend your time down here?

Many hours in the gym, studying (Diploma of Business), and emailing/phoning family and friends.

What do you miss the most?

Definitely my husband who works and moves around a lot with the UN and my mum in Brisbane, family, and friends.  Also fresh fruit and vegetables, to be waited on in a nice restaurant, birds chirping and odours. What I don’t miss is the hustle and bustle of city life and traffic.

Best thing about being here?

The outdoors. I love field travel training and taking a ride through iceberg alley on the quads, walking to Watts and Brookes huts, getting out and about. During summer I loved walking to Gardner Island to see the Adelie chicks running around, that is definitely one of the highlights of being here.

I love the silence too. As they say “The sound of silence is deafening”.

What does Midwinters mean to you as the station chef?

It’s the biggest day on the Antarctic calendar, even more so for the station chef. On an average day I cater for 20 personnel and I do my best each day to provide a variety of interesting meals. However, for midwinters I will be creating gastronomic delights!