Midwinter's Day on the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic research stations is a very special time for all expeditioners for various reasons. First and foremost, it marks the shortest day of the calendar year and the beginning of the return of the sun and longer days. It also turns our minds to thoughts of home and the sacrifice our family and friends have made so that we take part in this incredible and ongoing adventure.
It is a day of friendship, laughter, good food and solemn speeches, remembering those who came before us from Mawson’s heroic era to the present day.
The Midwinter swim on Macquarie Island is a long-held tradition and although we don’t have to cut a hole in the ice to access the ocean as they do on the mainland Antarctic stations, we do have to take a dip on both sides of the island across the isthmus which means a frantic and icy dash dodging slumbering elephant seals and gentoo penguins who must think we have all gone completely insane.
For station chefs it is both the longest and shortest day, where we put our professional talents to the test to bring an array of tasty delights and surprises from the depths of the pantries and freezers and host both the Midwinter brunch at 11 am and the more formal dinner somewhat later in the evening.
Everyone gets involved in the day and many hands in the kitchen make it a joyous day (thank you especially Tanya!).
Later that night we were blessed with clear skies and a rare aurora australis which seemed to be a sign of great times ahead for the 75th ANARE.
So, on we go, bring on the sun and wildlife mating season when the island will explode with new life and we will have to share our little village with roaming baby seals.