Mawson plateau gets a caning and we showcase some imaginative birthday cakes this week.

Caning on the plateau

One of the great joys of working in Antarctica is the variety of projects it is possible to get involved with, many of which are unique to living in such a harsh environment. Each day brings new challenges and adventures.

Maintaining the cane lines connecting the station to field huts on the plateau is one such project which is undertaken every year. Bamboo canes, up to 6metres long, are placed at 500-1000m intervals to mark safe travel routes. Navigation these days is mainly by GPS, making it possible to keep moving and stay on route even in poor visibility conditions. However, it is always reassuring to see a cane come into view to confirm that you are in fact heading in the right direction!

Bamboo canes are very strong but the winter storms and summer melt take their toll. The cane lines to Henderson, Rumdoodle, Fang and further south to the Central and Southern Massons all need maintaining.

After preparing the canes and loading them into the Hägglunds trailer, along with the ice drill and generator, we waited for a fine weather opportunity to venture up onto the plateau. After a week of blizzard conditions, last Sunday was fine and Cookie, Keldyn and John managed to complete the Fang line as far as F10. This is a significant waypoint as the route turns more to the south to avoid large crevasses.

Unfortunately our Hägglunds developed a problem near F10 and we had to abort a planned visit to Fang hut and a possible ascent of Fang Peak. We turned for home, happy to have spent Sunday, our day of rest, productively.

A few more days are required to complete all the lines but it is a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying job, which makes field travel at Mawson safer for everyone.

Cakes with character

Cakes and confusion…

One that never happened, one that was celebrated twice, one that on reflection represented two, another that was celebrated by two stations. One that happened to me and a few that included a dragon, a surfboard and space invaders. Birthdays and the associated cakes keep my hands sweet with sugar and the minds of the crew guessing. As mentioned previously, my love for creating unique and personalised birthday cakes has allowed the skills as a hobby decorator to flourish.

Stuck on this frozen continent for an extended period of time with truly talented people from all walks of life keeps me inspired to give of my time and fuels a desire to experiment and try new things regardless of success or not. The Doc even got on board and spent many hours playing with different coloured icings, all so as to make a cake he felt worthy of offering up for my birthday. Thanks a lot Lloyd, your thoughtfulness and labours made my day.

Chef Justin