Simon's summer to winter journey

The long way to Mawson

Where has the year gone? I have to wonder this as I try to think of a topic for the station update to share with family and friends.

It has been an eventful time for everyone on the planet. I don’t for one minute think there hasn’t been a change to how everyone is coping with day-to-day activities. It was similar when trying to get to Antarctica to complete a season or more “on the ice”.

Leaving home in September last year saw the commencement of a journey back to Antarctica, with a short time spent in Hobart, before meeting up with some old acquaintances at Casey station. In addition to two weeks quarantine prior to flying down, each incoming group had to undertake a further two weeks of semi-isolation once on station.

But this imposition wasn’t going to dampen anyone's resolve in making the most of the available time down south. I was only visiting Casey for half the summer as I was bound to meet up with the rest of the Mawson expeditioners to embark on my first winter in Antarctica.

After joining the supply ship MPV Everest, myself and a small group sailed back to Hobart to re-load for the next voyage south, a resupply of Davis and Mawson. The ship would also retrieve the returning personnel from each station who were well overdue to depart. After a small rest from isolation, our cohort already on board had to remain separated from the new group of expeditioners sailing south for another two weeks. Needless to say, it takes a resilient person to maintain focus, especially in the confines of a ship for more than two weeks on the Southern Ocean.

After a successful resupply at Davis our next challenge was to get as close as possible to Mawson, which was cut-off by sea ice. We had to evaluate what could be achieved with regards to the changeover of expeditioners and expediting all critical cargo into and out of station, all in a small window of favourable weather conditions.

Amazingly the effort paid off and our group have now entered the 20th week on station. We have the remainder of winter to experience, but we are already on the other side of our polar night. The days are getting longer, and the sun is shining.

This week we are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in July. Our station chef Kerryn is preparing all the trappings of a tremendous feast as we begin the last month of winter in Antarctica. Before I know it, my year and a half down south will almost be over and I will be joining my fellow team members on a ship (any ship) bound for home.


Simon W.