Mawson expeditioners celebrate the annual midwinter traditions in style.

Midwinter at Mawson

Midwinter sees the passing of the shortest day and the steady return of the sun over the coming months. It is also a traditional day of celebration for every wintering party across Antarctica. At Mawson this year, midwinter day was also the station leader’s birthday so it was a bit of a double celebration.

So I guess with Mawson being the premiere station (ahem), the AAD had no choice but to send us the premier chef, who put on a world class midwinter menu that would leave even the harshest food critic begging: “Please sir, can I have some more?!” The great food was complemented by some very fine wines and a selection of awesome ales that were all lovingly put down and hand raised by the finest brew master on the continent. (So, dream on Casey.)

The day was capped off with some world class entertainment which included acts such as:     

  • The delightful Cinderella, entertainment suitable for the whole family.

  • Charlie the Unbelievable. Seeing is believing, no wait a minute, I can’t believe what I just saw! Charlie you really are unbelievable! Magic that makes Criss Angel look like an amateur, believe me.

  • Pete’s heart wrenching midwinter poem, tells it like it is about his fellow expeditioners.

  • Rinderella, a fractured fairy-tale retold by our own slightly broken Met fairy, Linc. 

  • Unveiling of the 68th ANARE year plaque and a mind blowing six minutes of music and auroras.

Wow, what a great day! You get back what you put in and everyone put in so much! No swim though. Mawson was true to form and started blizzing on Saturday and it still hasn’t stopped blowing three days later.

Many thanks to the winterers of Mawson’s 68th ANARE.


No FTO’s or electricians were injured while performing these stunts although some members of the audience may have become traumatised during the events of the evening.

What does midwinter mean to you

Midwinter is not just the shortest day of the year or a time of celebration, but a time to take a moment to reflect and embrace what is to come.

Traditionally Mawson and his expeditioners sat down on midwinter day to what would have been the finest of meals with no expense spared. However, in modern terms this would be a regular Saturday night at a nice restaurant with good company. When you consider their regular diet was very basic, and the 18 men had already spent a long time in Antarctica with the main hut measuring 53m² in the most inhospitable and brutal place on earth with a constant reminder of isolation from home, you can appreciate how a nice meal in good company can form one of the most memorable moments in your life.

Coming forward some years to 1954 and Mawson station’s first midwinter expeditioners were again a small group comprised of 10 men who sat down and had a superb meal in fine company celebrating all that this day represents.

Now in 2015, the 68th ANARE sat down at a well laid out table with all the trimmings. Although the diet has changed somewhat since 1954, and some of the toasts are modified, the meaning of midwinter remains the same.

The halfway point is where, as a first timer to Antarctica, you think about the time you have remaining. Like all good things, our time down south will come to an end and before we know it our close knit group will be back in Australia heading our separate ways. This spreads from Perth, Western Australia all the way to the north island of New Zealand.

So to me, midwinter represents how far we have come, what time we have remaining, a change in the weather and the experiences I have had whilst at Mawson station.

Robbie Baker