Motorcycles in Antarctica? Current Mawson expeditioners learn about the past, as Dr George Creswell does a talk on his time there in 1960. The Mawson climbing wall also gets a write up.

Motorcycles at ANARE stations: a brief look at the past

Earlier this month, I read that there was going to be a presentation at the Australian Antarctic Division by Dr George Cresswell, previous Mawson winter expeditioner in 1960. What really caught my attention was the topic of his presentation: ‘Motorcycling in Antarctica and life at Mawson Station in 1960'.  As someone who really enjoys the nuances of these older motorcycles, I had arranged to video link into this presentation in the early hours, Mawson time.

The link on that morning was not very successful, so it was arranged (with the help of lots of people and the permission of George) to have the presentation uploaded to our server at Mawson. Once that was accomplished, I unanimously decided a time and place for the showing.

On the evening there was full house ready to watch. After Trevor sorted out a couple of minor technical glitches, we were underway. The presentation consisted of many photographs taken at Mawson during the 1960s through to the early 80s. They showed a wide range of motorcycles (BSA, Matchless, Triumph, Vespa, Roken) and other vehicles involved in a number of activities such as towing sleds, doing the gash (rubbish) run, going on field trips, having sidecars fitted and other more recreational activities.

I think it was the other recreational activities and what these earlier expeditioners got up to during those long winter evenings in the workshops, on the sea ice and up on the plateau, that really made the presentation fantastic for all of us watching.

Thanks to Dr George Creswell, for providing our 2015 Mawson winter expeditioners with a thoroughly enjoyable evening and a brief look into an area of our Australian Antarctic history.

Next week: A look into life during George’s year here at Mawson in 1960 as the Auroral Physicist and member of Binders Base traverse party.

Mawson climbing wall

During the colder, darker months of winter it is more difficult for people to get off station and be active, although just moving around the station on uneven snow, ice and rock surfaces as we go about our daily work tasks can provide a good workout, especially when it’s windy.

At Mawson we have a well equipped gym in the main store and a cardio room in the red shed. Many of the wintering group use these facilities and follow exercise programs to maintain healthy weight levels and keep fit.

The indoor climbing wall provides another exercise option. The wall was constructed in July 2013 from commercially moulded panels mounted on steel framework on the western wall of the main store. At eight metres high by four metres wide, the wall has over two hundred holds and twelve colour-coded climbing routes, although endless variations are possible.

Indoor climbing is a form of exercise which combines challenging mental activity with a thorough physical workout. Among its health and fitness benefits, indoor climbing builds and tones muscle, burns fat, develops strength, suppleness, coordination and balance, and works the cardiovascular system.

Along with these health benefits the Mawson climbing wall also provides an ideal venue for practising ropework and belaying techniques, which are required to safely ascend peaks in the Framnes Mountains, inland of the station.