It’s got to be one of the best ways to get to ‘work’ on the planet!

Getting to Mawson

You can’t fly anywhere in Antarctica until your cargo is weighed. Except in the case of us flying from the Aurora Australis to Davis to Mawson, in which case we each had to be weighed individually as well. Great news when you’ve been onboard a ship for two weeks with little exercise and mountains of delicious food.

Hmmm. So, wearing as little as decently possible, we lined up with our bags, and stepped onto the scales in the passageway — totally public. Our deepest, darkest secret was revealed and written down in Leanne’s notebook. We passed the test and choppered to Davis station.

When the time came, we caught the Hagg, and the last four of us were off across the ice to the airstrip and our waiting Twin Otter. Inside we buckled up, inserted ear plugs, and prayed to the powers that be that we had timed our food and drink intake correctly, and would not be in need of the bucket during the flight.

The flight itself was the stuff that dreams are made of. Dreams and two hundred photos of ice — the ever-changing, jaw-droppingly amazing, beautiful ice in all its shades of blue and grey and white. It was incredible to see the ship from this perspective, and to see the trail we made across the ice — so straight, such a neat turn.

After passing the spectacular meeting of the Amery Ice Shelf and the ocean, the rocky outcrops of Scullin Monolith came into view. It’s a place special to my Arts Fellow compatriot Jesse — the landing site of Ingrid Christensen in 1930, one of the first women to reach Antarctica, and the subject of Jesse’s 2013 novel ‘Chasing the Light'. Although Jesse had researched and written about this dramatic landform, she’d never seen it before — and took the opportunity to snap 400 distant blurred photos through the window.

The mountain ranges surrounding Mawson Station came into sight, the plane banked, and straightened out, and we dropped down to a perfect landing on the dimpled ice outside Horseshoe Harbour. The doors opened to blinding sunlight, glistening sea ice, and shouts of ‘Welcome to Mawson’ as we were helped down and handed our ice spikes. Fortunately I made it the ten steps to the Hagg without slipping over, or indeed just falling to my knees at the wonder of it all.

Jane Allen, Arts Fellowship