This week Pete shares some wonderful photos from the voyage and some of his favourites from around station. Some bivvy tips that may come in handy!

The voyage south

We have been here at Mawson for about six weeks now so I thought I might make mention of the trip south.

It was a warm, calm day when the Aurora Australis set sail from Hobart on Voyage 3. Once the ship had left the shelter of the River Derwent things got a little rougher and a few people were laid low, although after a few days most had gained their sea legs and were able to get into the groove of life on the ship. Due to the small numbers we had a cabin each and it felt as though we were travelling first class.

There were a few days where the swell was around seven metres and it made spectacular viewing from the bridge, watching the bow of the ship crash into the waves, sending spray everywhere. Birds were common and followed us almost from start to finish, but there was no pack ice to be seen at all, only a few seals were spotted in the open water. A few nice sunsets presented when the conditions were right and plenty of icebergs could be seen once we entered the lower latitudes. King Neptune made a brief appearance and those who hadn’t travelled beyond 60 degrees south by sea paid homage to the great man.

First stop was at Mawson to drop off the new winter crew, carry out resupply/refuelling and pick up the outgoing summer and winter team. The ship then went to Davis for a light resupply and the retrieval of their summer crew then back to Hobart. All went well although the ship did reappear back at Mawson briefly with some important cargo that had been flown into Davis.

For my money it was the most enjoyable trip south ever for me, and resupply ran like clockwork. Many thanks go to voyage management, ships management and crew, boaties, refuelling team and the departing Mawson crew.

Lastly, the one thing that will stick in my mind forever was the day we come upon the biggest pod of humpback whales ever! There must have been a couple of hundred of them, feeding on krill. Everywhere you looked there were whales, simply mind blowing and what a privilege to bear witness to such an event.

Until later



How to bivvy in Antarctica

As part of the survival training for spending time on the ice we must spend a night sleeping in a bivvy bag. This is so that during our deployment, if the need arose, we would be able to survive for a few nights out on the ice.

We’ve devised a few ‘do’s and don’ts’ to help people on their night bivvying out under the stars.

  1. When picking your sleeping bag and bivvy bag out of the field store, make sure you pick the nearest one. That way, when you go to get in your bag, you can discover that length is important in helping you have a more comfortable night.
  2. Finding a suitable position that’s flat can be rather difficult – some people like to mimic the local wildlife. If you choose a rocky space as the Adélie penguins would, make sure to do a little excavation to ensure you have a flat space. Otherwise, use snow to shield against the wind and make sure to have a well positioned rock for your hip to grind against over the course of the night.
  3. To find a hole in your bivvy bag, set up the bag and spend the night in winds getting up to at least 30 knots. If your bivvy bag fills up with snow, congratulations, you have a hole.
  4. Some people like to try and have a more comfortable night by bringing an inflatable pillow. When setting up your bivvy bag and using rocks to anchor the bag in place so that you can go have dinner, make sure to place the rock on the pillow and deflate the air. The other option is to leave the pillow at station where it is safe. Either of these actions will help you have a more authentic experience.
  5. Another method of having a more comfortable sleep is to use some thick clothing as a layer between the foam mat and the sleeping bag. When laying this clothing out, especially after having worn it all day, make sure to stomp the clothing flat to cover the mat completely. If you hear a crunching noise, then you have forgotten to remove your smart phone from a pocket.
  6. Look out of the bag from time to time and enjoy the night sky.


Around town

This week’s news is a collection of random photos I've taken around station over the past month. Some are of things that are quite obvious while others are not so easy to see. These are my favourites.

Check them out.