This week at Mawson a plumber learnt to be patient; and out in the field expeditioners stood in awe of green coloured bergs.


In Antarctica you learn to be patient and on the rare occasion you have to be a patient. Last week was one of those occasions that I became one, but fortunately, only as a training exercise for the station medical team. The station doctor down here wears multiple hats, or perhaps masks, as our doctor, surgeon and dentist. If there is an accident or someone has a medical emergency then it is off to the medical quarters for repairs.

I apparently had appendicitis and needed an operation. Dr Mal has a well trained lay surgical team to aid him on occasions like these. Dan the sparkie, Benny the chef, Brian the dieso and Mark from the Met Bureau. What could possibly go wrong?

For the training exercise they try and keep things as real as they can and I assisted by being a realistic patient. Having already had my appendix removed made my role a little easier. The process took about three hours all up which allowed for a little pre-operation snooze but didn’t allow for the actual operation.

There was the odd occasion where I was beginning to wonder if they had forgotten it was only an exercise as they all became very involved in their roles. Despite the familiarity and the scary bearded faces, I felt that in a real life situation that I would be in good hands. Their training in Hobart and regular training down here and Mal’s decades of experience is very comforting when you’re so far away from home. Or from anywhere for that matter!


Fifty shades of jade

Two colours dominate life in Antarctica, snow white and glacial blue, but nature occasionally gives a glimpse of that most missed and evocative of colours, green, in the form of stunning jade bergs.

Blue bergs are frozen fresh water from thousands of years of snow falling on the plateau, flowing slowly to sea and breaking off. However when conditions are right, sea water with mineral and organic content freezes to the base of ice shelves and breaks off forming greener coloured bergs of fifty shades of jade.

Until next time

Mark Austin