A look at how we celebrated Christmas and the arrival of 2022 at Mawson

Belated Seasons Greetings from Mawson

It is that time of year again when the true battle between the chef and the doctor on station becomes apparent, the workshops are a hive of activity with last minute Christmas presents and everyone on station is looking forward to the last big break before resupply.

The festive period was preceded by a successful Main Power House shutdown, which can be very hectic in which at any one time it is possible to find up to 10 tradespeople working on machines and tools in the space of a large office. Good cooperation, friendly banter and sound experience got the tasks done on time, with only a few palm to face moments!

The lead up towards Christmas also saw more helping hands in the kitchen to assist in the preparation of the feast to be supplied by chef Kez. For many on station it would be their first Antarctic Christmas, as well as being the first ‘white’ Christmas. With the summer season rolling in with many ‘calm’ days and positive temperatures, the snow around the station buildings has been fast retreating, so while it did have the appearance of a rocky landscape, the Mawsonites were very appreciative of the sunshine, the icy backdrop of the plateau and steadily approaching blue water seen on the horizon.

Christmas started off very early with chef Kez being up at 3 in the morning to start preparing and organising the feasts of the day. Many helping hands made light work, with a rolling slushie roster to ensure there was always two people assisting with kneading, stirring, plating, decorating, and of course cleaning! Brunch was a tremendous affair of delicious pastries, eggs royale, sweets and a carefully constructed gingerbread house. It was then time for the big red jolly fellow to arrive, spectacularly portrayed by one of our resident plumbers, Billy. His appropriated suit must have gone through the dryer as there was a lot of leg showing, and his sudden gain of girth had us fearful for his monthly medical later that week! Everyone had a wonderful time receiving secret Santa gifts, with much appreciation over the time and effort spent on the presents.

It was then time for a relaxing afternoon, if you weren’t busy in the kitchen or sending lots of messages to the mainland wishing friends and family a merry day. Dinner rolled around quickly, and it was time to get dressed to impress, as well as bring out the Christmas apparel that only gets worn once a year. There was a good showing of Christmas jumpers at Mawson, including an interesting chef’s apron that got a few laughs. Christmas dinner was a true testament to chef Kez, with turkey, glazed ham, lamb, potato bake, veggies and some wonderful oysters as an entree. Anyone that didn’t fill themselves up with this feast was treated to a vast array of desserts, from yule logs to trifles, rum balls to custard tarts, there was something to suit any desire. A big thankyou to Kez, for all the hard work and early mornings over the season, and of course to all the people who made Christmas a wonderful time when you are away from friends and family.

It was then time to relax again, with many heading off up the plateau for an overnight trip, and others content to simply curl up on a couch and read a good book while watching the sea-ice slowly get thinner, and the blue water creep closer to station. As mentioned before, it was also time to get the monthly medicals done and see how much Christmas ‘cheer’ we had all gained. Fortunately Santa was forgiving, with many Mawsonites recording a deficit, much to the surprise of some. In the battle between chef and doctor, it continues to be a draw, with the continuance of fabulous food offset by the continued work to trim down after the long cold winter.

Attention turned then to the beginning of the New Year, and seeing out the old one in style. Revellers gathered first in the lounge area, to be treated again to a wonderful Friday night feast care of chef Kez. After we had again sampled all of the culinary delights, we trooped down to the harbour's edge so we could try and replicate the Sydney fireworks display, although on a much smaller scale! Our Field Training Officer Gemma had some expired flares that we were able to set off which was fantastic, and the broad daylight made clean up extremely easy. An impromptu game of cricket was formulated to pass the time until midnight, with the use of a shovel as a bat making classic catches into some remaining snow patches a hilarious affair. As the clock struck midnight, it was time to reflect on the year that was, and to discuss what the year ahead could bring.

As this will be my last Station Update for a while, I’d like to thank to all the 74th Mawsonites, both here on Station and on the mainland, for a tremendous season. I would also like to thank the Kingston team for their assistance in helping us get through a very ‘unique’ season, with fuel, water and other shortages making it an experience to remember. And last but certainly not least, a big thank you to my partner, friends and family for the support you’ve provided over the last 12 months, and I certainly am looking forward to getting on the long trip back to the mainland soon.

Until next time,

Chris Bayly