This week at Davis, Sharky holds a TaeKwon-Do grading on station and we celebrate midwinter’s day.

A first in Antarctica – and it happened at Davis!

People often ask me what I do in my spare time down here. There are a lot of things I get up to, but some of them are just like home.

Back home I teach TaeKwon-Do and hold the rank of 4th Dan International Instructor/Examiner with the Unified International TaeKwon-Do Federation. I run my own school and before I left I decided to bring some of my student manuals down just in case anyone wanted to learn.

I got a group of three winterers that decided it would be a good way to pass the time and they were also interested in learning some self defence. So just after the summer crew left on the boat we started training together two nights each week. We found a perfect spot in the upstairs lounge that had just enough room to train and got down to business on the fundamental movements and some basic Korean language.

Around a week before I decided to give the students some notice that they were going to be tested for their next belt. This was received by what I can only describe as shock with everyone saying they didn’t think they were ready and they all started studying their theory each night after work. At the same time we got a new participant which was great so now we have grown to four members.

Around came the 15th of June where I held what I believe to be the first ever TaeKwon-Do grading in Antarctica. I spent a fair amount of time clearing out the lounge and setting up the area in the proper way to conduct a grading. The examiner’s table was set up with the national flags behind and a portrait of the founder on the table. At 5pm we held our final training session before the testing and took the opportunity to go through the formalities that are involved in the grading.

Everyone had a good training session and any nerves were hopefully calmed down, we had dinner and cleaned up then headed upstairs to start.

After having everyone do all the basic techniques including blocks, punches and kicks we moved on to their patterns. Once the patterns were complete I called them up to test them on the theory component of the art. There were some nerves but all did quite well.

After a stressful hour of testing I had the honour to promote my first three students here to yellow belt.

Hopefully some continue their training when they get back to Australia and they will all be able to brag that they got their first belts down south which is a fantastic achievement.

Sharky (Sabum Paul Daniels)


On Wednesday June 21st was the winter solstice. We woke to a crisp −35ºC; or −47ºC if you include wind chill. We had a busy morning with a video link with the Australian Antarctic Division in Kingston for a memorial, to remember those who have tragically died in Antarctica. Then it was a delicious brunch from Kerryn our chef before another link to Kingston for messages from the Governor General, our departmental minister and our director, Nick Gales. There were live links to all four stations so we got to hear what everyone would be doing to celebrate their day.

Given the strong traditions associated around midwinter in Antarctica, it was great to start the day with connecting to others, both on other stations and back home. Additionally, we have greetings sent to Davis from other stations all around the Antarctic, wishing each other a happy day and support for the rest of the season. This not only creates camaraderie but also celebrates how connected nations are down here, on this continent at the bottom of the planet.

The greetings vary in style reflecting the teams’ personality, nationality and sense of occasion. There are some cheeky photos, traditional photos and everything in between. These were put up in our bar as a talking point to start our evening. Our team were unanimous in which nation had the greeting with most impact — congratulations Concordia, you are the winner!

Hot tub

The cold wintry weather put bit of a dampener on planned outdoor activities for the day, so the only solution was to either help out in the kitchen or visit the hot tub.

The hot tub was well loved over summer but had some issues after the last blizzard. To Bryce’s credit and with help from others, he was able to resurrect the hot tub for midwinter’s day. Sitting in the hot water, surrounded by snow and an icy landscape is ideal. There was constant debate about the perfect temperature setting however, so snow baths were required to cool down from time to time.

With the cold temperatures, wet hair quickly froze: including beards, eyebrows and eyelashes. This was most entertaining although a little painful at times.

Midwinter dinner

The highlight of the day was our midwinter dinner. It was a sumptuous feast that took weeks of preparation. The whole team was involved with this event but special thanks go to Kerryn for producing the divine food, Marc for the time and effort in getting the hydroponics garden up to speed and so productive and for making a special ale for the day, Jock for the ice sculpture and Rhys for making wooden items for the table.

A great time was had by all, in the true fashion of an Antarctic midwinter celebration.


Our main entertainment for the evening was a performance of ‘Cinderfella', a variation on the traditional Cinderella play. Given our team’s passion for football, the story line included Cinderfella and her two horrible stepsisters participating in a football game in front of AFL selectors. Cinderfella was the star player and of course got selected and whisked away by ‘Prince Charming’ to the great dismay of her two very upset sisters.

Only a couple of our team members weren’t involved in the play and acted as the audience. As they hadn’t seen the script it was all rather hilarious and much laughter ensued. As they say, men wearing dresses is an Antarctic tradition and the boys did it well.

A big thanks to our artistic director Rhys for the inspired idea, time and effort he put into writing and then wrangling the play and cast into action.

The band: ‘Seven Quads and a Hägg'

The finale of the evening’s entertainment came from our band: ‘Seven Quads and a Hägg'.

As you know a lot of effort goes into the name and branding of a band. This was by far the most politically correct name on offer, with most other suggestions being a play on words of local lake names.

There was also a photo shoot to produce a poster for the night’s performance. Lötter’s glacier travel skills came in handy as he was strapped to the front of the Hägg while the other band members looked suitably cool yet disinterested. On the night things ran a bit late as they are prone to do on such occasions. However, the band proved highly entertaining in their performance.