This week we visit a plain looking building to reveal the myseries within, pay our respects to a departed Mawson expeditioner from the 60s and celebrate the Director’s Award recieved by one of the team.

What lies within?

Down the hill from our accommodation building sits a long low rust coloured building with very few windows and two doors. Pretty boring from the outside but not so once inside. It has only been around for a few years and was built to house all sorts of wonderful bits and pieces that help to keep us warm, protected and safe. It is the field store and here you will find anything from a mug through to a four man polar pyramid tent. It is the home for back-up protective clothing for in the field and for work. Browsing through the shelves and boxes you will find, boots, gloves, maps, compasses, gear for crevasse travel, ropes, hard hats, ear muffs, tents, gas lights, stoves, skis, sleeping bags, climbing gear, ropes, zip, catches , clip, waterproofing, thermal clothing, inner boots, cooking gear and hundreds of other items that we need for heading out into the field or to stay safe and warm when working outside on station. Our storeman/field training officer looks after the gear in here along with everything in the main store. It is fair to say that John is much happier sorting out the gear in the field store than he is sorting the food etc in the main store. Recently he has pulled out all of the tents to check that they are in good condition. The field store is his second home. I think that he just likes looking at the climbing gear and daydreaming about the longer and warmer days ahead when he can get out into the mountains behind the station to climb a few of the magnificent peaks there.

A fitting send off for an ex-Mawsonite

What better way to say goodbye to a former Mawson expeditioner who had devoted his life to meteorolgy that to scatter some of his ashes from a weather balloon in Antarctica on midwinters day. At the request of the family of Neil Streton who passed away last year, we were pleased to be able to give Neil a fitting send off. It was planned that we would do this earlier in the year but Neil was going to have the last say. Each time the ceremony was planned strong winds, blizzards and poor conditions forced us to postpone the event. As midwinters day approach the team agreed that this was perhaps the most fitting day of the year to send Neil off to the heavens. Still reluctant to go, he somehow managed to stir up 40 knot winds on the day but was last seen heading high over Horseshoe Harbour with a view back to the place that he loved: Mawson.

Some of the words from the send off follow:

Neil Anthony Streten was born in Brisbane in 1933. He studied a Bachelor of Science at the University of Queensland and was awarded a Doctorate of Science from the University of Melbourne. Ultimate recognition saw him honored with a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1998 for his contribution to Meteorology.

It is fitting that Neil’s ashes return here to Mawson, where he will be sent up into the atmosphere via ‘The Met Balloon'.

Neil’s connection to this special place began in 1960, when he took up the post as a meteorologist based at Mawson for the winter. Neil continued to travel to Antarctica three more times (1982, 1985 and 1992) before deciding to give it all up when too challenged by the rope ladder linking ship and ice. Memories of these precious experiences have filled the family home with photographs by the thousands. His involvement in Antarctica extended for many years, contributing to committees, commissions and treaty discussions and offering many scientific papers. Neil was the chair of the World Meteorological Organisation working group on Antarctic Meteorology, the WMO representative to SCAR and Antarctic treaty meetings and the President of the International Commission on Polar Meteorology.

Neil worked for the Bureau of Meteorology for a period of 46 years. During this time he worked as Antarctic expeditioner, researcher and later within management achieving positions of Assistant Director and Deputy Director within the bureau and developed many strong positive friendships with colleagues. Neil loved good food, red wine, classical music and spent much time reading, mostly historical text and his library has many thousands of books. He survived by the care and love of Margaret, his wife of 50 years and celebrated with the birth and life of his children, (Philip and Clare) and grandchildren, (Alex and Lilly). There is a part of Antarctica that will be forever Neil: Cape Streten, an ice cape on the north eastern part of Sakellari Peninsular, Enderby Land.

Our award winning jack of all trades: Cliff Simpson-Davis

If you have never heard of Cliff Simpson-Davis, I am not surprised.

Each year approximately 60 to 80 expeditioners sacrifice up to 15 months of their lives to do a winter in Antarctica yet they come with no ambition of being recognised or rewarded for their efforts. While the idea of experiencing Antarctica for most seems the dream (and it is), what people do not realise is the personal sacrifice, the hardships of separation, the workplace, the harsh climate, a close community and personal challenges are some things that can be dealt with during one day on station.

For one man to do a summer in Macquarie Island during the 08/09 season, another at Casey in 09/10 and 10/11, a winter and summer in Davis in 11/12 and this year during the 12/13 season a summer and winter at Casey, Davis and Mawson is truly remarkable.

It is not only the time that Cliff has put into the Australian Antarctica Program, the work he has done during those years deserves to be recognised as he always looks out for others. For a station to operate efficiently and without major problems it takes everyone to spend time and effort to do the little things, even if it is helping the chef out before meals, taking the rubbish out, making sure services are up to standards and finding problems by observing things that have changed or where they shouldn’t be.

When Cliff Simpson-Davis received the “Directors Award” this year for his contributions, I think everyone that knew him was proud of the achievement, for one of our ‘unknown’ to be recognised and rewarded. However, Cliff being himself was a very humble recipient and was, for once, lost for words.

His mum is also very proud of him. Well done Cliffy!