Mawson expeditioners continue last week’s stories with a mission to the top of the wind turbine and a journey to the Taylor glacier emperor penguin ASPA.

Fire extinguisher audit: the final episode

Well, last week my station news article was a description of what is involved in the six monthly fire extinguisher audit, and the places it takes a plumber. This week I am glad to say that the job is complete, after approximately sixty hours.

The real point of this week’s spiel is to enlighten you on how I finished the job on a high. Literally. Saturday afternoon I climbed wind turbine one (for a brief time known as Hansel, we have two, the other was Gretel) to audit the single extinguisher forty five metres up in the turbine itself.

Accompanied by one of our electricians (Robbie), we harnessed up. After a refresher on how to operate the fall arrest trolley that we hook to that slides up the centre of the ladder, along with the do’s and don'ts of the system Robbie ascended ahead of me. We both completed ‘Safe Working at Heights’ courses before we left Hobart so it was good to put what we learned into practice.

Once at the top Robbie signalled me to begin the climb. It’s only forty five metres but the climb always seems longer, as does the view from the top looking down.

Once at the top it was photo time. I became so distracted by the spectacular views of ‘Mawson Town’ that I forgot all about the extinguisher audit and was preparing for the descent when Robbie asked me if I was going to do it! So, job done, and soon we were both back at ground level, and another extinguisher was ticked off the list, not to mention yet another Antarctic experience that not many can boast.

Trip to the Taylor penguin rookery: part II

At Colbeck hut,​ after we were compelled to have a leisurely breakfast due to the lack of daylight outside, we got underway for the short trip to the Taylor glacier by 1000 hours. Entry to the Antarctic Special Protected Area (ASPA), where the emperors spend the long winter nights incubating their eggs, is strictly controlled by a permit system. It is a privilege to have a role that allows you to enter the ASPA with permit in hand. 

First to go in were Trevor and Angus who had to service the automated cameras so that they can continue their lonely vigil on the ridge above the colony. When they returned it was Pete and my turn to go to the top of the ridge to photograph the colony so that an accurate count can be done by scientists back in Hobart, Tasmania. The overriding principle of any activity in the ASPA is that the birds don’t know that we are there, so it was a relief when we achieved our all our goals undetected.

With the serious side of our trip completed, we still had some daylight left so we were able to set off for the historic site of Proclamation Point on the other side of the Taylor glacier. Heading towards the snout of the glacier, we observed the sun bravely trying to rise above the horizon. Our meteorological guru? Linc assured us that it was just a mirage as at this latitude the sun was not to rise for another three days.

Next week: a visit to the historic and picturesque Proclamation Point.

Read part one from last week.