This week we found the elusive emperor penguins at Auster rookery — finally! and we share some of the ways we relax at Mawson.

Finding Auster colony

Heidi, Doug, Mal, Alex and Leon had been keeping a keen eye on the weather forecasting charts, looking for any opportunity to go penguin hunting. We were in search for the Auster emperor penguin colony.

We set out with high spirits and a sense of excitement, quietly confident that the penguins were there and waiting to be found. On the afternoon of arriving at Macey Hut, we had time to check out the amazing greens of a nearby jade berg. This was the first one of these I had seen and I was blown away by how dark but clear the iceberg was.

Day two and the hunt was on. Breakfast and morning coffees taken as quickly as possible, the Häggs prepped for a long day ahead and the expeditioners sensing that today would be the day. We would finally find the Auster colony for 2017.

We had completed a quick reconnaissance the previous evening and found penguin tracks pointing in all sorts of directions, so we knew that they were around. We carefully pottered around the field of towering icebergs, the sort that look to have been stretched and torn through parts. Alex thought the bergs looked as stringy as pulled pork.

After spending most of the day following penguin tracks, we finally found three emperors wandering around in the early afternoon. Naturally, we stopped to ask them for directions; however their singing replies couldn’t be deciphered.

Heidi thought that the best place to go was around the back of the iceberg field. As the sky changed to grapefruit pink, the excited radio call came from Heidi ‘We’ve found them! We’ve found them!' We parked up the Häggs with plenty of distance to the main colony and the emperors sent a greeting party to us to welcome us to their home. There were penguins on eggs, penguins looking at us while we looked at them and the faint high-pitched chirp of little chicks, all set against the frozen seascape.

We were also treated to two beautifully clear nights, with stars all the way to the horizon and the dancing green lights of the aurora australis.

I can’t wait to go back and check on the progress of the little ones.


It’s not all work down here

Our work days here are varied but mostly the standard eight hours a day, for five and a half days per week. The half day is usually allocated to clean your work area and do your community duty if you’re rostered on for that week.

So you may ask what options are there on station after work for recreation or relaxation, well you might be surprised…

We have two gyms, one in our Red Shed (living-accommodation building-the main hub) and one the green store. The green store building also has the spa and sauna which is a great luxury after a cold day out and about. The Red Shed has a cinema, library, the ‘dog room’ where there is historic memorabilia and a nice quiet place to relax or phone home, a pool table and our bar. We brew our own beer here at Nunatak Brewery and Leon our brew master keeps the fridges stocked with a good variety of flavours and strengths.

So those are the inside options after work or your weekend, the outside options are also a plenty when the weather is suitable, we even have a lovely seaside ‘Bach’ (a kiwi word for holiday house) we can stay in overnight and have a weekend away!

Antarctica is a harsh place and wintering over comes with sacrifices but there are a lot of creature comforts here that makes the days go by easily.

Until next time