The contrasts at Mawson


Contrasts and change are constant themes though life and very often it is these two that bring vitality and richness to life, often with challenges, sometimes with joy and happiness, sometimes with sadness and loss. Yet without these two, life on our planet and our human appreciation of life, would stagnate and most likely be less fulfilling and enjoyable. Hence the theme for my Icy News story from Mawson this week.

Antarctica is about contrasts, both inherent to the continent itself, and as part of coming to live and work in Antarctica. The photos I’m sharing show contrasts.

The wind turbine, Gretel, a man made structure contrasted to Fang range rising up starkly dark above its white surrounds.  

The crosses that mark 3 of the 4 memorials on West Arm serve as a constant reality check to those living in Mawson Town seen in the background.

The contrast between the harsh reality of Antarctica, a land not conducive to easy human habitation, exacting a heavy toll on some who have chosen to come here, and the relatively comfortable station that now provides accommodation.

One may also think of the contrast between the way we live here now and the far harder living arrangements that were endured by those that explored with Douglas Mawson, for whom the station is named.

The pair of Weddell seals, one a juvenile, that were lounging on West Arm, almost oblivious to my presence, in contrast to the skua, whose mates kept circling around me, waiting for me to turn up my toes so they could tuck in.

The picture of the sea spray turned to ice, on the shores of West Arm, a reminder of the contrast we will see between the current, perpetually windswept waters of Horseshoe Harbour and the sea ice that will cover the harbour in the coming months.

The final picture of Guy, our station mechanic, dressed ready for dealing with a fuel spill during a station exercise as part of ops recess. As the station doctor, going to sessions on fuel spills is very much in contrast to my day to day activities back home in Australia. It is this chance to work in a way that is totally different to usual that provides one of the joys of coming to work in Antarctica.

I keep remembering that the only thing constant in life is change: the contrasts embedded in that change give life its texture and richness — thanks Antarctica.

Frank Clark, Station Doctor