Mawson celebrated last Friday as our very own Rodney ‘Rocket’ Charles was awarded an Australian Antarctic Division Director’s Award for his outstanding achievements and commitment to the Australian Antarctic program over many years.
Director Dr Tony Fleming addressed a packed theatrette at headquarters in Kingston, Tasmania with video links to all Antarctic and subantarctic stations where he said the following:
With no streamers on station The Mawsonites celebrated by throwing the next best thing: toilet paper. It was a very proud moment for Rocket and we all believe he is a deserved recipient. Well done Rocket!
“Rocket has consistently displayed over numerous seasons, outstanding quality in his work on a daily basis. He has become a benchmark for Chefs working in Antarctica. To be considered “almost as good as Rocket” is high praise indeed.He displays the highest degree of technical excellence accompanied by a deep level of understanding of the needs of his “clients”.
In his role as Chef, Rocket must meet multiple deadlines daily. He manages these pressures with a calm professionalism and softly spoken authority which belies the intensity of the station kitchen.”
Rocket has been with the AAD for many years and all that know him speak very highly of him as a chef, expeditioner and a friend. So perhaps we share a little about this man with the rest of you. He is a ‘wee snippet of a bio’ about Rocket.
What did you do before this?
Prior to my Antarctic adventure which started in 2002, I was one of the luckiest chefs in Tasmania and was able to work in some of the most remote wilderness resorts and restaurants in the state including Cradle Mountain Lodge, Franklin Manor in Strahan, Freycinet Lodge, and Edge of the Bay in Coles Bay .
The seed was planted while I was working at Cradle Mountain Lodge, working as a chef in a remote area with only six staff and six Parks and Wildlife rangers. We all attended a medical mountain craft course, (search and rescue) and it was an instructor who had had an adventure in the Antarctica and he showed us his slide show. I thought I could do that. It took another twenty years for me to fill out the application. I think with all the wildness areas that I worked in during that time, in Tasmania and the outdoor adventure activities I participated in, why not the Antarctic?
Previous Antarctic experience?
It all started in 2002 in Hobart, Antarctic Division, Kingston, Tasmania, starting out as a summer chef, where we flew to Cape Town, South Africa and then on to Casey station. I was hooked from that time on. I have been south six times now, five winters and that first summer. I have worked at Casey, Davis and now Mawson, with only Macquarie Island left to do.
How will you spend your spare time?
After I settle in to my workplace, I would like to explore Mawson station and the outlying areas and what it has to offer. I also enjoy being a part of the social life with the wintering crew here on station. My interests are music — I play guitar and vocals — art and photography. There is never a dull moment here on station.
What do you miss?
Family and friends, fresh fruit and vegetables, the sound and the smell of the rain, long walks on the beach near Coles Bay and pottering around the garden, loving life as we all do.
Best thing about being here?
The adventure in Antarctica and the people you meet (expeditioners). As a return ‘offender’ to Antarctica, each winter or year are never the same and everyone has something different to offer. I enjoy getting to explore the area and seeing the sites, sharing these moments with the crew. That’s what it’s all about.