A Hawaiian themed birthday, and more about Mawson station (with pics).

Paul’s birthday

Saturday 22 March was a special day at Mawson. We celebrated the 43rd birthday of Paul, one of our much valued diesos. And how do you celebrate a birthday in Antarctica? By having a Hawaiian Luau of course! The night was a great occasion for all concerned, with many a grass skirt and Hawaiian shirt in attendance. To tell the truth, it looked like a scene from a 70s American movie at times.

The day started as an absolute cracker: a clear sky, a gentle breeze (something we don’t get to enjoy too often here at Mawson), and a balmy −9°C. It was a perfect day to celebrate a birthday, getting out and about to experience the best of Antarctica. It’s such a shame that his birthday coincided with his day rostered as slushy! Paul, the birthday boy, spent the entire day working as slave to the chef. Happy birthday mate! Bad luck (or poor planning…).

A lot of effort was put into preparing the red shed for the night. The upstairs lounge was decorated with palm trees and vines  - plastic of course, they don’t grow too well here. Various members of our team, notably Mama Kate (the station Doctor) and Trev (who moonlights as our communications tech) spent hours decorating and concocting various tropical drinks, and the ‘dress up dungeon’ was raided by a number of our crew in a desperate search for Hawaiian getup. The spit roast was wheeled up the hill from the green store and set up in a strategically placed shipping container to shelter it from the elements, and Kim, our superstar chef, had prepared a whole pig for the spit along with various trimmings.

Dinner was on the table at 1900, and an impressive feast it was. Fortunately the pig was not a large specimen, so the eleven of us that do have carnivorous tendencies made a fair impact on it. The meal was finished with a very large cheesecake, which we are still making our way through two nights later. Post dinner clean-up was attended to smartly, and we then retired upstairs for more celebrations, mixed in with various challenges of table tennis.

All in all, it was great day, even for Paul in the kitchen. Everyone finished up at a civilised hour, and no one had a sore head the next day. Next up for a birthday is Kim, the chef. I wonder who’s cooking that night?

Mawson and Antarctica

The images below give a brief glimpse of the amazing environment we are living in at Mawson. The Australian Antarctic Division’s supply ship, Aurora Australis, safely moored in an ice free Horseshoe Harbour, delivers essential fuel, cargo and personnel.

The sunlight glittering off a frozen landscape, ever changing hues of pink and mauve at dawn and dusk, the full moon rising over the ice plateau and the most beautiful solar phenomenon of all, the real aurora australis, are all something that — I think — cannot be put into words or captured truly on film.

The Framnes Mountains with their field huts and spectacular views are a great place to visit and escape the confines of station. Until now there has been plenty of wildlife around station, although in coming weeks, as the weather gets colder and the extent of the sea ice grows, most of them will head out to sea to their winter feeding grounds.

With the onset of winter, the daylight hours dwindle along with the majority of our local inhabitants but there will be great auroras, sea ice to travel around on and great light for photography. Mawson also has an ace up its sleeve during winter: the most majestic of birds, the emperor penguin.

So, enough said, just watch this space.