An expeditioner’s summary of the first month on station plus a description of what the communications team does on a daily basis.

A summary of the first month on station

Hi, my name is Pete Hargreaves and I’m here at Mawson for the winter as a plumber/BSS. This is my second stint in Antarctica after spending 17 months at Davis including winter 2010.

Being right on a month since we arrived I thought I’d do a little run down of the first month’s life here on station.

To start with there is total madness with re-supply in full swing and handovers to be done, thrown in with catching up with some old mates who’d just spent the year here and were about to depart on the ship (I hope you’re settling back into life at home Lisa and Wilko). Re-supply is getting all the cargo and food ashore for the coming year and loading onto the ship all the rubbish etc that has to be returned to Australia. Handover for us plumbers involves walking around to every building and plant room with the outgoing plumbers and seeing how everything works, the main things being water, sewerage and heating. Mawson was kept very much up to scratch and is very well maintained, neat and tidy, many thanks to Rod, Cotty and Clint for that.

After the ship left, it was time to have a couple of days to relax and settle into my room, sorting furniture, what room I wanted and unpacking all my gear. After this it was time to familiarise myself with everything around station, walking around buildings and plant rooms again making sure I remembered everything, most importantly remembering what to do if we should have a power house shut down and need to swap to the emergency power house.

Thrown in there is some time to simply admire the scenery here at Mawson. It’s pretty spectacular and the edge of the plateau is barely 500m from my room as the attached photos show.

After all that, it’s a bit same-same, continuing to settle in, finding and unpacking all our work gear and starting to get on top of the work that needs to be done and starting to do the priority outside work while the weather’s not too bad and we still have daylight. Before we know it winter will be here and it'll be getting pretty icy out and the daylight hours will disappear. In there we always have some maintenance required on whatever decides to stop working. For us, our services were required at the aerator in the waste water treatment plant. Wayne (the other wintering plumber) and I removed the offending pump from the pit, discovered what looked like the remains of a washing up chux jammed in the impeller, and to our considerable delight, the pump worked fine once it was removed. A special mention here to Rob, one of our winter electricians, who was the first to answer our request for help, kindly volunteering to assist us with this job. He even cracked out his new Leatherman and christened it, and what better place is there to be christened I ask?

Another important aspect of life here is training and particularly field training early on, so Vicki, Paul and I headed out for a 2 night trip with Mel our FTO (field training officer). We headed up onto the plateau staying 2 nights at Fang Hut, while in the field we familiarised ourselves with the surrounds and huts as well as brushed up on such things as navigation, self arrest techniques, vehicle recovery etc.

Once all the work aspects are taken care of then there are the important after-hours aspects of station life. Keeping fit is one of them. For me this involves doing Yoga at 6:30am 5/6 days a week, which is made all the easier as we have quite a few Yoga people on station and several converts. Most mornings there are 3–4 of us who turn up. I also use the cardio room, the rowing machine, and while reading a book, the walking machine and exercise bike. It’s then a small stroll over to the green store where the spa and sauna happen to be located, my favourite part of station.

After our evening meals some people watch movies and we have quite a few of us who know how to throw a mean dart too. Saturday nights are our one night of the week where get to break the norm and have a nice sit down meal, tablecloths down, candles out and everyone dressed a little better than weeknights. Our Chef, Bron, has been providing some great spreads and there’s been smiles all around.

Then, last but not least, we have the late night Aurora spotting which has been particularly good this week. We've been treated to some lengthy displays and I must confess that from the warmth of my bedroom window they have looked spectacular! I did venture out one night last week and captured some photos with my fish eye lens, well worth the effort.

So that’s about it for me, thanks again to the outgoing wintering crew. You left the station in great shape!

Hi to everyone back home.


Communications section

Hi from Mawson Communications section 2012. This year we have two technicians running the communications section, Anders and myself (Hendo). We both have experience in different parts of the wide communications spectrum and together we hope to have it all covered. On station there is a great variety of equipment to be maintained from ANARESAT to the X-ray machine (I can’t think of anything starting with a Y or Z).

So what does Comms Section do?

We do not sit around all day playing computer games as many would have you believe. We actually do some work, so I thought I would write a list of some of the Comms specific things we have done this week just to prove it.

Fix Expeditioner’s Computer; Newspaper Printing; Magnetic Observations; ANARESAT Weekly Observations; Fix Expeditioner’s Computer; Install New GPS Antenna on OPS Building including Cabling to NTP Server; Unpack Stores; Identify work for installation of Webcams on Tower; Install Webcam on Ops Building including Cat 5 Cabling to Server Room; Fix Expeditioner’s Computer; Computer Backups; Installation of Rack Cabinet for GPS repeater including new Power Supply; Issue of Radios, Hut Batteries and GPS to Field training personnel; Replace a Guy on the Tandem delta on East Arm; Fix Expeditioner’s Computer; Install VHF Antenna in Hägglunds; Install GPS antenna and GPS in Hägglunds; Email Account Configuration; Network monitoring; Fix Expeditioner’s Computer Etc. Etc.

As you can tell from the list we are kept busy with work and you won’t usually find many photos of us working because we move so fast. However because I was writing this article we both went into slow motion so some shots could be taken.