Making up this week’s news: a trip out west to the Colbeck Archipelago and surrounds, and a question on where our newspaper comes from.

News and sport, how do we get it?

This week there was a discussion around the dinner table about ‘Station news’ and the sort of stories we should be sharing to the outside world. Now I could easily write about my experiences with penguins, climbing mountains, travelling on sea ice, this unique environment, and share my thousands of photos that were taken this year but I wanted something more. So here I was looking down at the paper The Australian and it suddenly dawned on me, do people really understand the effort that is even involved in supplying us entertainment media from Australia?

At Mawson station this year we have had two members that look after everything communication related. Let me introduce to you Craig and Chris. I was lucky enough to catch up with Chris this week and persuade him to take time out of what is otherwise a busy schedule. With my top negotiation skills we found a time, a setting, he made me a coffee from our professional cafe machine and we sat down to what would be lengthy but interesting conversation. It was time to find out about the paper that magically appears on our table each day and the recorded TV on the server.

So here are my findings…

There are no fairies or mythological creatures that work in the background to make things happen. It takes a lot of pre-planning, time and effort which is seen and appreciated by all on station.

For a paper to be printed and be delivered at Mawson it must first be sent to us electronically from NewsLink and The Australian in New South Wales. They come into the station via a satellite link and are processed through our server, reformatted and then printed out in full colour. Papers are then sorted, stapled and distributed.

Some of the challenges are making sure we end up with a complete newspaper, the subscription expiring, downloading and reformatting problems.

The schedule that is in place allows the paper to be delivered first thing in the morning. The earliest it arrives is eleven thirty the night before.

It would be the world’s most expensive paper because of the time and effort involved in producing it. The secondary effect is the amount of time reading it and completing the crosswords.

In the future, and as we move with the times, one of the changes I can see is that we will be reading papers from electronic screens. However there is some reluctance to that method as the majority still prefer paper media. Being aware of the environment and our impact here we recycle the old papers as much as we can.

The biggest change this year has been from black and white paper to colour when we received our new printer.

Sport has been popular viewing this year. It is recorded at our head office on a special digital television recorder which is a large computer which can record four TV channels at once. It has remote access and the communication techs record as per station preferences.

The station is restricted to the amount we can watch as every hour of TV takes five to eight hours to download and this can only be done outside normal business hours. These downloads only use available bandwidth that is not required by science or normal station operations.

Go west, to Colbeck Archipelago and beyond

Famous Four go wild at Colbeck Archipelago

During the last week of September, a group of four (Darron, Craig, Jeremy and Trent) spent five days exploring the Colbeck Archipelago and surrounding area, which lies 90km due west of Mawson. We set off from station early on the first day in glorious sunshine, knowing that we had a big day ahead of us. After a couple of hours behind the wheel of the orange hägg, we stopped to stretch our legs and explore an impressive jade berg.

A further two hours saw us reaching the far side of the Jelbart Glacier, Ufs Island being the first major landmark which greeted us beyond that. Nearby, we were treated to witnessing the first Weddell seal pup that any of us had seen for the season. While in the area, we also took the opportunity to explore and climb Ufs Island.

We continued on to the western side of Howard Bay, and proceeded to spend a couple of hours exploring the hills and valleys on the southern side of the Chapman Ridge massif.

We eventually made our way further west to reach Colbeck Hut situated in the Colbeck Archipelago, where we settled in for the evening to watch the setting sun. The following day we got away to another early start, and continued heading west past the Taylor Glacier and into Oom Bay, where we spent time exploring spectacular ice cliffs and another impressive jade berg.

As we made our way back east towards Taylor Glacier, we discovered an impressive gorge leading up to wind scours and more ice cliffs.

Further east at Cape Bruce, we took further time out to explore Proclamation Point and the surrounding area, before heading back to Colbeck Hut for the evening.

The third day saw us making our way towards the specially protected Taylor Emperor Penguin Rookery. From afar, with the help of telephoto lenses we were able to observe the penguins raising their chicks.

As the weather started to close in and snow began falling, we spent the remainder of the day using video cameras mounted on long poles through cracks in the sea ice to film penguins swimming beneath the sea ice. Whale bones were also discovered on the northern side of Chapman Ridge, and as the snowfall became heavier, we made our way once again back to the comfort of the hut.

Day four brought with it gale force winds and blowing snow, and so the day was spent relaxing in the hut reading magazines and watching movies on Jeremy’s laptop. The fifth and final day brought a break in the weather, so it was a quick and early departure back towards Mawson, stopping en route to spend a couple of hours climbing Chapman Ridge and reaching the summit of Stump Mountain.

So ends the Famous Four adventure to Colbeck Archipelago.