This week we maintain a steady pace towards the South Pole, check out the kitchen and ponder blizz days.

The heart of the red shed

In almost every home the kitchen is the gathering place and on station, the mess is no exception to this rule. 

At Mawson the kitchen is Gav’s domain but he is very generous with his space and happily shares his knowledge, or lets us potter around when we need a cooking fix. There are a huge variety of dishes that come out of the station kitchen and the chef makes everything from fresh bread to five star restaurant quality meals. 

To help out with the daily food extravaganza, someone is rostered on as ‘slushy’ every day. This means you spend the day being the kitchen hand, wiping down tables, cleaning the bar, mopping floors and washing up. The bonus to being slushy is that you get to pick the music for the day. Slushy radio is then ‘broadcast’ across the station so that people can share their musical tastes with everyone!

On a weekday everyone has a routine. Some people only come to smoko, some people only lunch and some both! But every night most people come to dinner, it’s a chance to check in with everyone, talk about the day or just have some company while you read the paper.

Every second Saturday we have a more formal dinner where we set the table and put on our neat casual outfits as opposed to track pants, and every Saturday we have brunch at 11 am. Brunch is my favourite meal of the week: nothing can really top bacon, eggs and mushrooms!

Some of the most common questions that I get asked about living in Antarctica relate to food. How do you get it? What sort of food do you eat? Do you ever run out?

How do we get food?

There are a few ways that we get food, the first is via resupply once a year. This is when the majority of our food arrives, all the dry goods, chocolate, tinned fruits, frozen veg, meat and everything that you would buy at the supermarket. In this resupply we also get fruit like oranges and apples, root vegies and cabbages. We still have cabbages, potatoes, carrots and apples from February’s resupply. 

We also have a hydroponics shed, this has proved a huge bonus and has been providing us with lettuce, tomatoes, snow peas, kale and lots of fresh herbs. 

What sort of food do we eat?

Every station is different because our chefs all have their own style, but there are three important meals a day.

  • Smoko – a hot mid morning snack. Think sausage rolls, mini pizza, quiche. 
  • Lunch – salads, pasta, soup and fresh bread 
  • Dinner – a couple of mains, vegies and dessert.

So far our dinners have covered a variety of different styles ranging from Japanese, Chinese, French, Italian, Indian and modern Australian. Gav is a miracle worker in the kitchen, even a lack of fresh produce doesn’t slow him down.

Do we ever run out of food?

No, we have enough food to last many years. Although we may get sick of dehydrated meat and veg fairly quickly we definitely would not starve! We also have food stashed in lots of different places all over the station in case there is a disaster like a fire or flood in a food storage area.

Blizzard days

Every so often at Mawson we have a blizz day, and this Wednesday was such a day. The wind was well over 60 knots all day and there was so much snow that you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face… well that’s a slight exaggeration but you really couldn’t see more than about two metres. The strongest wind gust for the day was captured by the wind turbine with a 114 knot gust registering.

The combination of snow and high winds can be quite dangerous to walk around in and we have a set of guidelines for weather conditions. Today this meant that we only travelled between buildings in pairs and let someone know when we left a building and arrived at the next one. So most of us stayed in the living quarters, catching up on book work, going outside as little as possible, listening to the wind buffeting the building… and enjoying Gav’s cooking.

Janelle, our Bureau of Meteorology observer, tells me that to be called a blizzard three weather features have to be present:

  • Wind above 34 knots for more then 1 hour
  • Visibility less than 100 metres
  • Temperature below zero

At Mawson we average 38 blizzards per year and so far have had about 18. July, August and September are the most frequent blizzard months. So I guess we have a few more blizz days to look forward to.

Walk to the South Pole

Walk to the South Pole continues for week three and some results are in (unfortunately still waiting for others);

  • Team Mawson – 2,280 km
  • The Gumboot Ramblers (Macquarie Island) – 2,114 km
  • Casey White Walkers – 1,478 km (week 2 total)
  • Remediation Rampage – 1,375 km (week 2 total)
  • Team Davis – 1,154 km (week 2 total)

So Team Mawson and the Gumboot Ramblers have reached the South Pole and are waiting patiently for everyone else… maybe with a cold beverage to celebrate! The bonus of the walk challenge has been that our gym has never been busier and many of us at Mawson have been getting back into a gym routine that we had been neglecting.

A big shout out to Rob, Dom, Esther and Rocket at Macca who all did over 100 km each over the last week!

The good news is all the teams are on track to reach the South Pole by 31 July.

While our fitness is improving, our fundraising goals are struggling a little bit but we have made it onto the wonderwall of everyday hero’s webpage to try and raise as much support for our charities headspace and AMRRIC (Animal Management in Remote and Rural Indigenous Communities) as possible. We are easy to locate there so share the news of these fantastic charities and the great work they do.

Jen Wressell