Getting our Midwinter on (or off)

A highlight of the Mawson calendar

Today (Friday 21 June 2019) is Midwinter’s Day, one of the major highlights of the Antarctic calendar. Midwinter’s Day marks the winter solstice (the shortest day and longest night of the year), when the sun is at its lowest daily maximum elevation. At Mawson, there is continuous darkness or twilight around the winter solstice, with the sun officially absent between 14–29 June.

For us, Midwinter is a day of reflection, commemoration, and celebration. Our day will include a hearty brunch, a videoconference with our AAD colleagues in Hobart, exchanging Midwinter greetings with our Australian and international Antarctic counterparts, and finally a celebratory dinner to toast our achievements and honour all expeditioners that have served in Antarctica past and present.

Speaking of weather, Mawson is set for a big blizzard on Midwinter’s Day. Given our season has seen 19 blizzards so far, a Midwinter’s Day blizz feels rather fitting! As the legend our station is named after (Sir Douglas Mawson) once quipped, Mawson is home of the blizzard!

In between our notorious windy weather, we managed to sneak in the traditional midwinter swim, where seven brave souls plunged into the freezing depths of Horseshoe Harbour. Those that swam certainly left with an experience they'll never forgot…along with some of the fastest recorded run times from the swimming hole back to the nearby heated wharf hut!

Since our last update, our operational focus continues towards a deep field trip to Taylor Glacier in support of Emperor Penguin photographic census and fixed camera maintenance work. This important science work will be conducted by a six-person team over the coming two weeks. We look forward to providing a detailed update upon completion.

To close, on behalf of the Mawson 72nd ANARE team, I’d like to extend a special salutation to all Antarctic expeditioners, both past and present. Thank you for your efforts in support of science and polar exploration — it’s certainly not easy, but it remains one of life’s true privileges to live and work in Antarctica. I’d also like to extend special thanks and appreciation to our beloved friends and family for their never-ending support.

Happy Midwinter’s Day — we salute you all!

Kyle (Station Leader)