Treadmills and hats make an appearance

Mawson tradie adventures and the tale of two treadmills

Being a tradie in Antarctica is a very special and unique job. Jack of all trades, master of none often there is a bit yoga style flexibility required find the right fix (figuratively and literally!) We look after a varied range of equipment on station and as a sparky this can include everything from wind turbines, power supply, sewage, lights, and kitchen appliances (coffee machine and waffle maker top priority).

May was a busy month for the trades team at Mawson. Memorable events include:

- Too much wind for the Wind Turbines. When it gets too windy the vibration monitor (a ball on a wobble stick) or a centrifugal over speed switch on the blades trip as a safety feature to protect the turbine.

- Cold Storage was too cold. Potatoes get quite cranky and ‘bleed’ when too cold. Station wide effort to peel, process and save the spuds.

- Too much water in the water supply building. Blizz forced its way into the building and water damaged the control board for the Meltbell pump. Our on call sparky and plumber battled 100 knot winds on a Saturday night to walk up the hill and save the station's fresh water supply.

- Blizz in the Main Power House, Blizz in Hydroponics, Blizz in the Turbine, Blizz in the water supply building. Blizz everywhere!

- Heart Surgery (pump replacement) on the dishwasher.

- Locating and testing all 237 fire detectors in the Redshed.

- New Treadmill installed in Redshed.

The treadmill saga is an epic tale spanning months of trial and tribulation. When ANARE 75th arrived at Mawson in February, ANARE 74th had managed to keep two 15-year-old treadmills limping along with the promise that a new commercial super-duper fantastical magic tready had arrived on station with the resupply.

But where was this mythical machine? As all the shipping containers were slowly emptied, months past and hopes dimmed. Finally, in the back corner of the very last container, our new treadmill was found! Meanwhile weekly maintenance continued on the two geriatric treadmills to keep them alive. Sadly, the Greenstore treadmill suffered irreparable brain damage (control board fried) and the difficult decision to harvest the Redshed treadmill for parts was made. The two half broken treadmills were combined to make one functioning Frankenstein treadmill.

After a thorough investigation, a TAKE 5, a lift plan, a JSEA, a specially constructed trolley, a walk through and much preparation; our fearless building services supervisor came up with a plan to carefully (and safely) shoe horn the 200 kg of treadmill running bed into the Redshed. With the combined effort of the entire trades team – plumbers, sparkies, chippy, diesos and our storeby – the mission was a success and the station has been celebrating since with a 5 km running challenge. Just brilliant!

We have a fantastic trades team at Mawson and it is a pleasure and privilege to work alongside them.

Cheers, Kat

Brilliant beanies - Hadley Westwood's incredible gift to the 2022 Mawson expeditioners

As if living at Mawson isn't enough of a blessing, we are also blessed by being the recipients of the most beautiful gifts from textile artist, Hadley Westwood. Hadley has been gifting Mawson expeditioners with her incredible hats since 2019, as part of her Hadley Hats Art Project. She writes to us that she chose Mawson expeditioners as her lucky recipients as she wishes to pay homage to Sir Douglas Mawson and his ideals of conservation and exploration. In turn, I believe images of Mawson in his own hand-knitted hat, worn during his exploration of Antarctica, are a tangible link between him and Hadley’s special artform.

This year we were lucky enough to be the recipients of ten hats all in the theme of phytoplankton (well, one was of krill – but krill eat phytoplankton). With an eleventh phytoplankton hat making its way onto the head of Sir David Attenborough... we are doubly honoured to also be in such rare company.

Phytoplankton were the inspiration for Hadley as "they have the most incredible shapes and details and are a total challenge to knit". And from the finished product this is absolutely true, such incredible shapes and colours, so varied that each beanie draws the devotion of a different expeditioner. Which is lucky, so we didn't all fall in love with the same hat.

So, what to do when we have 10 beanies but 15 expeditioners. Hadley has recognised the difficulty this might induce – “In previous years, I left it up to the Station Leader to randomly gift out the hats to the expeditioners; I now see this as setting the leader with an impossible dilemma of handing out approximately 3 to 10 hats between 19 expeditioners without upsetting anyone. So last year, to solve the problem, I suggested the hats be auctioned, around mid-winter celebrations and the funds raised, go to a charity the winterer's choice”.

And she was absolutely right. How to maintain station harmony when some are going to miss out? A silent auction did seem the fairest means. So that’s what we did. With each expo given an alias under which to bid, so it truly was an anonymous process. We had a week to sneak into the library and up the bidding on the hat(s) we preferred. After dinner on Saturday, a last rush of bids, and the winners were announced. An outstanding $2620 was raised, with the most inexpensive beanie going for $105 and the most expensive $450 – most going for somewhere in between. Funds were deposited – a majority going to our current fundraising activity of “The Push-Up Challenge” (see note) – and hats, letters, and special bag in which to store each wearable art form were duly distributed.

Hadley is kind enough to write each recipient of a hat a personal letter, explaining her inspiration for each design and some of her process, as well as care instructions so we might keep each hat in pristine condition. And to conclude her letter, we are blessed once again with extremely kind and inspirational words from Hadley: I am in awe of the Winter Expeditioners resilience and astounding individual skills and hope you accept these hats as a tribute to your individuality and adeptness.

Thank you, Hadley, we are in awe of your skills and will be honoured to wear your hats through our time at Mawson, and beyond.

Bec J