Getting to know you and a quiet week on station

Meet an expeditioner - Troy

Name: Troy Henderson

Nicknames: Handsome

From: Originally from Newcastle, but more of a Sydney boy these days.

Previous seasons? 17/18 Casey and 20/21 Macquarie Island

Job title: Station Communications Technical Officer

Describe your role in two sentences: Keeping all the radio and satellite communications gear up and running. Providing plenty of on site, technical help to the various long-term science projects we have here at Mawson.

What did you do before you joined the AAD? Originally started my career in the Australian Navy as a Comms Tech, then over the last few years have moved more into systems engineering and project management work.

What is your favourite part of your job here at Mawson? The animals. There aren’t many jobs in the world that you get to see emperor and Adelie penguins or walk past some Weddell seals to go to your office.

If you were not an SCTO what would be your dream job? I would love to be a pilot in Europe, flying sight-seeing flights around the Alps and the Greek islands. That or a rugby league coach. Looks like there might be a few NRL level coaching jobs opening up next year, so I might be in luck.

How does this season at Mawson compare to your previous seasons down south? I remember reading lots of people answer this question over the years saying 'you can’t compare seasons' and always thinking it was a bit of a cop out. But now after the 3 years down here I totally agree. Each season is so unique, it's different people, different sizes of teams, different weather conditions, very different landscapes to explore. Instead of comparing I'll just list a few of my favourite things about each station:

  • Mawson. Auster rookery, sea-ice travelling and all the ice cliffs/icebergs, it’s just stunning! The history with the dog sled, and the old maps and photos on the walls in the dog-room and common areas are very cool too.
  • Macca. The wildlife. Macca is like living out your David Attenborough fantasies. You always have some penguins to have a chat with just outside your window, or a sea lion to chase you back inside a building.
  • Casey. The busyness of it all. There is always something happening with so many science projects, helicopter flights and new people arriving on station. I love the winter weather, the windless air and lightly falling snow where all the sounds are muted by a layer of snow a foot or two deep. Some of the walks to work at Casey are my favourite of all time.

What do you like to do in your spare time? I’m studying a Masters degree this year, so that takes up a lot of time. If I’m not nose deep in a textbook I’m generally outside taking photos or banging away poorly on my electric drumkit (sorry friends in the southeast hallways).

What song sums up your Mawson experience so far? Brian Fallon – A Wonderful Life

What actor would play you in a film version of our 75th ANARE season here at Mawson? I reckon Patrick Brammall from the Moodys would play it pretty well.

What is your favourite hut for field trips and why? I love Beche, the googies (huts) are great and I love the layout out there.

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit? The big woolly socks. They keep my toesies warm.

What is your favourite book / movie (or both) and why?

Book – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It’s just a great book that captures your imagination and transports you into the world Erin creates. Every time I read it I can picture the circus, I can taste the caramel popcorn and I can feel the excitement of the visitors.

Movie – The ‘Before Sunset’ trilogy. For me they have everything you need in life. Great conversation, a pretty girl and a stunning European city as a backdrop. An absolute perfect example of minimal, realistic filmmaking.

What is your typical 'Slushy FM' genre? Do you have a particular favourite?

I wouldn’t say I have a genre, lately Miller Roberts, Bears Den, Gang of Youths, Enter Shikari and Odesza are all getting played a lot.

Describe your Mawson experience with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste.

A sight – The wind pushing some blowing snow off the ice cliffs on the edge of the plateau

A smell – Donna baking her cookies!

A feeling – That same wind blowing snow of the plateau hitting you in the face and instantly freezing your nose and making your face feel like it’s on fire!

A taste – Donna is making it very difficult to pass my next medical with all the deliciousness she cooks every day. It’s very hard to pinpoint one taste (although currently there is some white choc rocky road on the bench which tastes like heaven).

Do you have a favourite quote that you’d like to leave us with?

"If I'm an advocate for anything, it's to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else's shoes or at least eat their food. It's a plus for everybody." Anthony Bordain

A rare quiet week on station

We have had a relatively quiet week on station; cracking on with the usual work tasks, some time off station to undertake the weekly sea-ice measurements (now between 120 and 132cm thick) and paint the googie (hut) over at Béchervaise Island, and another recreational trip out to see the emperor penguins at Auster.

The penguin chicks are growing rapidly and getting a little more adventurous. Some are now experiencing the wide world on their own and stepping away from the adults for some independent time with their little mates. As the weather slowly improves and the hours of sunlight slowly increase, we are all lined up to get out to Auster whenever possible.

In exciting news, we have approval to send a team into the deep field in an attempt to reach Kloa Point. When the dogs were at Mawson, one of the most notable sledging journeys was the annual sea ice run to Kloa, a 650km return trip. Along the way a census of the various emperor penguin colonies would be completed. The last dog run to Kloa was made in 1992 and the sled used, Speedfiend, is now part of the dog-room display in our very own Red Shed.

Kloa Point is approximately 260km across the sea-ice west from station, a prominent coastal point projecting from the east side of Edward VIII Plateau and the winter home of a small emperor penguin colony. This area has only been rarely visited since the dog’s departure with the most recent trip conducted in the early 2000s. So, we are embarking on an extremely rare activity - to have a team out such a long distance from station, self-reliant and camping over a number of nights. A true expedition!

On receipt of approval, preparations and extra training have commenced with a possible departure next week… pending weather… I’ll let you know how we go.

Bec J, Mawson SL