Celebrating the winter solstice

Mawson Midwinter 2021

It’s that special time of year again. Back home many people are struggling with the cold snap spreading across mainland Australia. Especially in far north Queensland, where if the temperature drops below 20 degrees Celsius the locals (myself included) think it’s the start of a new ice age.

On Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands however it’s a time for rejoicing as we celebrate Midwinter's, a milestone for anyone lucky enough to achieve a winter posting. What better way to cement this momentous occasion than to take a dip in the frozen Southern Ocean. For those of us in Antarctica this consists of a team building exercise cutting/digging a hole through over a metre of sea ice.

A heated changing room is set up near the hole where the game remove our winter clothing, don a recovery harness and question our sanity. While roped up we descend a ladder into the icy depths for, unsurprisingly, a short amount of time before retreating back to our warm winter clothing.

Invigorated, many of us relax afterwards with a spa or sauna. In keeping with tradition the night is rounded off with the Midwinter's dinner, preparation of which has taken our fantastic chef weeks to complete, thanks Kezza. Big shout out to all the other expeditioners at Macca, Davis and Casey, stay safe and enjoy the rest of the season.