This week we caught up with the two diesel mechanics on station, we mapped out an icy runway and we were stopped in our tracks…

The two of us

Brian and Alex, the two diesel mechanics at Mawson keep things moving on station. With a wide range of mechanical experience between them, and a collection of machinery and equipment at their fingertips they can also pretty much fabricate any metal nut or bolt that we need on station. Handy skills, considering that we don’t have a local hardware store nearby!

When it comes to working in Antarctica, they both agree that you should just ‘give it a go!'

The photos depict a typical day in the life of a diesel mechanic at Mawson.

Tell us about your job at Mawson station.

Brian: To maintain and operate all of the vehicles and plant (mechanical equipment) on the station

Alex: My job is to ensure the power house engines are always working and all other plant (mechanical equipment) around station is kept in a serviceable condition.

Why is your job important?

Brian: ‘Diesos’ are the ‘go to people’ when things go wrong!

Alex: My job is just as important as everyone else’s here on station, all the trades work together to ensure the station continues to operate.

What is the best part of your job at Mawson?

Brian: Being in Antarctica! The job is much the same as anywhere else

Alex: The diverse job requirements and what Antarctica has to offer (auroras especially).

What do you like the least about your workday?

Brian: Vacuuming and slushy

Alex: Mornings

How did you end up doing this job in Antarctica?

Brian: Always wanted to. I did it 31 years ago and thought ‘why not have another go?' and here I am.

Alex: I have wanted to come here for a long time. So I applied and got lucky I guess.

Give me one useless fact about your role as a diesel mechanic. 

Brian: I’m also the station anaesthetist!

Alex: Some Turbocharges can spin in excess of 100,000 RPM (most cars go to 4000 RPM).

If someone wanted to be a diesel mechanic in Antarctica what would you suggest they do?

Brian: Get a good diverse range of experience and have a go!

Alex: Have a diverse mechanical background and give it a go!

A tide crack stops us in our tracks

For decades Mawson expeditioners have been traversing the sea ice west of station to monitor and photograph the emperor penguin colony at Taylor Glacier. This ‘Antarctic Specially Protected Area’ is monitored three times a year — in July when the male penguins incubate their eggs; in October when the chicks have hatched and in November when the chicks have survived and are about to moult.

For the last few weeks the team at Mawson have been measuring and drilling the sea ice route towards Taylor Glacier to undertake the July photography census.

Unfortunately this year the sea ice route to Taylor Glacier is too difficult to traverse in July, with inconsistent sea ice depth and impassable tide cracks.

While out monitoring a tide crack near Forbes Glacier this week the team did manage to see one lone emperor penguin far from the colony.

We will keep measuring and planning our sea ice route and hope to see the rest of the colony at Taylor Glacier in October when those penguin chicks have hatched.

Where do planes land at Mawson?

Where do planes land at Mawson? Depending on the time of year, aircraft can land on the sea ice in front of Mawson station (we'll show you that later in the season) or on the icy plateau of the Framnes Mountains behind Mawson station.

Out in the field this week our team ventured up to the plateau to check and confirm the condition of the Rumdoodle ski landing area in preparation for the summer flying season. With solid ice and great conditions, it’s the perfect spot for an icy runway.