And so here we are, a group of 19 expeditioners, some of us too hairy to be recognised by family members, but all of us yet too rare not to go down in history as 71st ANARE Antarctic Winterers! A milestone event reached…
You would think the weeks by now in our Antarctic suburb the Vestfold Hills would have become routine by now. We still complete the usual tasks, keeping the place operational and science happening, responding to alarms at random hours that something or somewhere has got cold or a tomato plant has fallen over in hydroponics, but last week it was all hands on deck for our midwinter celebration.
Everyone found a role in the previous week setting up for the event, whether it being making and sending out the invitations, food and dinner service preparation, getting the guitar riff down for the nights performance or cutting a hole in the ice for a swimming pool (I'll come to the swimming pool later). But a busy climactic build up to the southern hemisphere’s winter solstice was justified.
The big day started in the morning with a video hook up with Antarctic Division headquarters in Kingston for a memorial service. There is a great history of service and many stories of people who have come and gone to this great place, here we remember those who passed away in Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic.
We then had an amazing brunch cooked by our chef and his slushy assistants, not that they weren’t busy enough getting ready for the big dinner later. Sadly our midwinter swim was called off at this point because it was ‘too windy outside’ but don’t worry about the cold! There were a few people secretly happy about this, but more on the swimming later.
All back in the cinema room again, this time it was a joint videoconference. We could see on our big screen all the other Australian Antarctic stations and Kingston headquarters. Our director Nick Gales conducted the ceremony at HQ as we went through the annual awards and a message from the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, where yours truly got a mention, wow! Then a sweep around the stations where all got to hear how everyone is celebrating. You do end up in your own bubble down here sometimes and this was great to kick-start the afternoon seeing the bigger party. Everyone left with a bounce in their step, off to iron their suit or dress.
We met in the social area for the evening with canapés served. Everyone was looking very posh in his or her dinner attire, which is surprising, as no one had seen a hairdresser in eight months. Then our three star gourmet chef Rocket served up a feast fit for a king. A few toasts were made and everyone enjoyed the port and wine. Now with everyone a bit lubricated it was time for the show, our local band and a few talented people got up on the stage to perform. As the night went on and song requests came in, it was the job of different people from our team to come up for their shot in the limelight. But no judges were in the crowd that night, no one planned to give up their day job for a life on the road with a band, it was just good fun had by all.
An epic week for all at Davis.