This week we prepare for a Walk to the South Pole with a beer and burger night and enjoy all the astronomical phenomena that 20 hours of darkness gives us time to appreciate.

The sun returns

On the 29th June, the sun returned to Mawson station after setting on the 13th. We have had about three to four hours of predawn light for the last ten days, but it is funny how much you miss the actual sun in the sky.

During the last 16 days without sun we have had a number of odd phenomena occur, including a suspicious sighting of the sun on the 20th, which has caused much debate as to what defines a sunrise or sunset and the existence of sunrise or sunset mirages. Janelle, our fabulous Bureau of Meteorology observer, tells us that sunrise occurs when the upper limb of the sun rises above the horizon. This would seem to indicate that maybe the sun did not rise on the 20th but we saw a sunrise mirage instead. A sunrise or sunset mirage occurs when the low slanting light rays are refracted between air layers of different temperatures. Check the picture and see what you think!

The huge strawberry moon set over the Casey Ranges. It was a beautiful sight to watch the huge moon set slowly behind the mountain range on the plateau. So pretty that it seems everyone took a mind picture and forgot to take an actual photo.

We had an aurora that was so bright we could capture it around the full moon. This is unusual because the moonlight usually overpowers the aurora’s colours.

We also witnessed a huge lunar corona that Josh spotted. A lunar corona occurs when each single corona light ray seen is reflected through a single droplet. This one was particularly nice with a large green ring sitting perfectly around the moon.

In addition we have had some amazing three hour sunrise/sunsets that have painted the station in pinks and yellow.

Walk to the South Pole

During the month of July we have decided to Walk to the South Pole (virtually). After all, exercise is one of the best treatments for the winter blues!

Earlier this month we issued the challenge and four teams have stepped up to accept:

Team Remediation Rampage from Kingston was the first to step up, comprising the remediation team. These amazing people are part of the Science branch’s Human Impact Program. Their work in remediation research as well as applied remediation helps us to minimise the human impact of our stations and research across Antarctica and Macquarie Island. One of their projects which I saw at Casey 18 months ago involves placing any soil that has been affected by fuel into a 'biopile' and encouraging native soil microbes to help process the contamination. Check it out, really interesting!

The Gumboot Ramblers from Macquarie Island were next to step up with a team who are based on the island for at least 12 months. Starting this winter, they will be fundraising in their gumboots on the green sponge! Kim and Co have been training since they got to the island with the walking on Macca guaranteed to get you fit…

Team Casey and Team Davis have joined in the last week, we wait to see if they have been training or not… we are suspecting that the delay in signing up was due to actually having try-outs for the team… they could be in it to win it, or I could be making that up completely… we will see!

It is great to have representation from all our work sites across Antarctica, Macquarie Island and Kingston. Together we will be (virtually) walking, running, rowing or skiing from Mawson station to the South Pole, 2500 kilometres in 31 days.

We are also raising money for our chosen charities through our Everyday Hero accounts:

  • AMRRIC is an charity that provides veterinary care to dogs in remote and rural Indigenous communities. This is an essential service that not only helps dogs but helps whole communities through offering services like desexing to reduce overcrowding and treatment of conditions such as mange and worms.
  • Headspace provides early intervention mental health services to young people aged between the ages of 12 and 25, helping young people to maintain a healthy outlook on life.

Progress reports weekly as we Walk to the South Pole!

Jen Wressell

Beer tasting and burgers

On Saturday night, brewmaster Hilly hosted a beer and burgers night in the bar, a chance to taste some of the flavours that have been bubbling away in the basement for the last few months.

Every station has a home brew setup and we (or rather Hilly) make a mix of different styles from ginger beer and cider to stout and everything in between. Making the home brew and bottling the beer after dinner every couple of weeks is a group effort. We have it down to a fine art now where everyone has a role, from bottle washer, sugar measurer, bottle filler, capper and handler and of course the drinkers at the end.

Hilly put up six brews for tasting;

  1. Canadian Blonde
  2. Mexican Cerveze
  3. Amber Ale
  4. Kiwi Pale Ale
  5. Pale Ale
  6. Morgan Stout

There was something for everyone, with the Amber Ale being my personal favourite. Of course the New Zealanders amongst us couldn’t go past the Kiwi Pale Ale.

The beers were perfectly matched with the ‘make your own burger’ bar consisting of burgers, chicken wings and grilled chicken breasts (for those of us on a diet), lots of salad and fresh bread rolls.

With the State of Origin playing in the background, a darts practice session and some board games it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours.

Jen Wressell