A full week with new equipment installed in the kitchen, some boating, a visit to the western side of the David Range and an eventful long weekend for one young expeditioner.

“Our Kitchen Rules”

Plumbers and electricians were busy this week installing new equipment in the kitchen. A heavy air of excitement descended over the mess as a new deep pan fryer, oven and stove assumed their rightful positions in their new home at Mawson. 

Keldyn and Cliff got the new fryer and stove up and running in no time.

Peter C and Trent likewise got the new oven up and running without a hitch.

A visit to the David Range

Framnes Mountains exploration

The Framnes Mountains lie inland of Mawson station and a number of established cane line routes give access to field huts at Mt Henderson, Rumdoodle and Fang Peak, as well as other regularly visited areas.

Recently Cookie, Craig, Geoff and John spent a day up on the plateau checking out a possible travel route from the Fang line to the northern end of the David Range and up the western side of the range as far as Mt Coates. A helicopter flight over the route during re-supply in early February had shown safe travel conditions — blue ice, with no crevassing, nearly all the way.

The morning of the proposed trip didn’t look all that promising weather-wise but by morning tea, sunshine and blue sky were appearing over the Casey Range and we decided to quickly load up a Hägglunds (over-snow vehicle) and head off. We followed the Fang line for an hour or so then after a bit of a discussion amongst the four of us set a course for the northern most tip of the David Range. As we’d expected the going was very straightforward on blue ice and we made quick progress. The weather had turned out to be perfect: blue skies and virtually no wind!

At the northern end of the range we crossed a frozen lake, turned south and followed a moraine line at the foot of the mountains on the western side. This was very much “off the beaten track” and we all felt privileged to be there. All the mountains looked very spectacular and we stopped frequently to take photos and simply to look and admire. The western faces of Mt Parsons and Mt Elliot were particularly impressive. Navigation was simple: stay on the blue ice and follow the moraine, with our GPS tracks providing a back-up if weather conditions were to change for the return journey. It did cloud over during the afternoon but surface definition - so important for travel on the plateau - remained good throughout.

At the end of the David Range, to the west of Mt Coates, we walked up through a wind scour and returned to the Hagg via a short climb and descent over colourful, shattered rock. We were probably within 400 metres of the cane line through Hordern Gap and Mt Hordern itself looked very close.

In the late afternoon we turned for home, only realising on the way back to the northern end of the range how much elevation we’d gained during our outward route. Re-joining the Fang line we bumped our way back towards Mawson, all of us very satisfied and content with what we’d experienced during the day. The soft, late evening colours on Mt Henderson topped it all off.

Keldyn’s long weekend

Labour Day weekend

After a rather eventful and busy month in February everyone here at Mawson relished the opportunity to recover, rewind and be rewarded with an extra day off.

Friday: In fact, even Mother Nature was kind settling the wind enough so that we could seize the moment and deploy the boats Friday and Saturday afternoon with those onboard enjoying some spectacular sights including seeing an emperor penguin, moulting Adelie penguins on the surrounding islands, skuas having a feeding frenzy, icebergs, ice cliffs and a close up of the sea icing up before our eyes.

Also on the program was Geoff taking a small group through Hägglunds training. Meanwhile Cookie and Trent finished preparing all the ingredients that our chef, Justin, had put together for “make your own burger night” which really hit the spot with everyone. Then a few expeditioners watched the recorded NRL from round 1 of this season.

Saturday night: With everyone having done their Saturday duties on station, the second iceberg cruise taking place and people catching up on work, sleep, their own cleaning and relaxing, Trent seemingly being our second chef again took to the kitchen as part of his slushy duty and spent hours preparing some really authentic and tasty pasta dishes with garlic and cheese bread. It was a special night for all of us with great company, great food and really kick started a night in which a lot of pool was played and darts were thrown. A display of auroras outside greeted those that stayed up or woke up during the night.

Sunday: Where was everyone? The station was fairly quiet, most people doing their hobbies, sorting out photos, websites and catching up with family back home. It was ‘catch and kill’ at the station meaning everyone had to get their own meals so with only 15 of us on station and everyone eating at different times, being in different rooms or buildings, sometimes it seems you are the only person on station.

Monday: For me it was a chance to do some map exercises in the morning preparing me to become a trip leader. I had to take a map of the area, mark out waypoints and the distance between them, write down their grid reference and the direction of travel from magnetic north.

This was a great exercise having been out in the field on two occasions now and learning those skills as part of the training with John, our field training officer. In the afternoon, one walking party took off around east and west arm while four of us took to walking on the ice with our mircrospikes from Mawson station up past GWAMM. It was roughly a two hour round trip, great exercise, nice views back to the station, distant ranges and the frozen summer melt streams. It was also a good time to work out how long a marathon would take us. We are aiming to do this in September as a group.

Until Next time,


Out boating

This week also saw a couple of boat trips, all in the name of SAR (science And research). Friday drinks and hamburgers had to be put on hold while Darron, Chris, Justin, Cliff, Jeremy, Craig and Peter C spent some time investigating the quality of the pancake ice forming on the surface of the sea.

After a successful mission, we all enjoyed Justin’s hamburgers which really hit the spot and ended the week on high note.