It's all about the penguins, real and printed

The sun is returning

The days are getting substantially longer, we’re now at 17 hours of daylight and by the end of November, the sun will rise and not dip below the horizon for six weeks. The impact that might have on our sleep is a ‘future us’ problem, but for now we are enjoying the light and the slightly warmer days.

This week we have been blessed with a few magnificent days of clear blue skies and afternoons with light winds. The light is beautiful as the sun sets with gorgeous oranges, pinks and lilacs. Everyone’s mood lifts on these days and we wander around the station, peeling off the layers and remarking on the warm temperatures (when it’s still -13°C outside). This has also allowed for recreational field trips up onto the plateau to Rumdoodle and across the sea ice to Auster.

Summer is nigh and with it comes ships and flights and a pending sense of loss as some of the team prepare to depart (breaking up our happy little family). But in turn, the Adélie penguins are due to arrive any day now and the pace of work is picking up. Lots of science project work underway to get ready for the summer, some training so we’re set for more outdoor activities, and planning for cargo and resupply and maybe a little mail. With that we had a large Search and Rescue Exercise this week - the LAST exercise, to Locate, Access, Stablise and Transport - which coincidentally is our last exercise for this year. Over the course of four hours, we successfully located two expeditioners who were a little geographically confused on one of the offshore islands, returning the injured party back to station to the outstanding care by our station doctor and his lay surgical assistants. Hopefully none of those lessons will have to be utilised over the next few months!

In case Donna was getting bored, we decided we should have another big family dinner over the weekend. As is to be expected the food was incredible. Bar snacks a plenty, then homemade tortellini, slow cooked beef cheeks, confit duck and lamb racks with all the vegies and condiments, and just in case that wasn’t enough… a dessert buffet. We followed dinner with a little arts and crafts session. Tom has 3D printed everyone their very own little penguin, and we painted those while chatting over a few drinks.

And as a little added bonus this week - photos have now been processed from the most recent trip to Auster emperor penguin colony; so, some photos to show the growth of the chickees for your viewing pleasure.

Bec, SL

Get to know an Expeditioner - David Tian, Station Doctor

Name: David Tian

Nicknames: Dave, doc, tradie Dave

From: Sydney

Previous seasons: First timer

Job title: Station Doctor

Describe your role in two sentences: Keeping everyone safe and healthy on station. Maintainer of medical facility and quality assurance for the drinking water.

What did you do before you joined the AAD? Working at Westmead Hospital in Sydney or escaping on various hiking and mountaineering expeditions around the world.

What is your favourite part of your job here at Mawson? Walking around station and taking it all in – Antarctica is such a unique experience, and I often have to pinch myself and take mental photographs to remind myself how privileged I am to be here.

If you were not a doctor what would be your dream job? Become a helicopter pilot. Food tester on Master Chef (off camera role).

What do you like to do in your spare time? Go down to Hobby Hut and tinker around with things. Read books. Take photos. Eat Donna’s food. Avoid studying.

What song sums up your Mawson experience so far? The Wolves and the Ravens by Rogue Valley. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is one of my favourite movies, and I always associate the adventure of Mawson with the sentiments in the movie (and this song as part of it).

What actor would play you in a film version of our 75th ANARE season here at Mawson? Hugh Jackman. Quadruple threat.

What is your favourite hut for field trips and why? Rumdoodle – great to have the backdrop of the mountains.

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit? Big yellow down jacket. Keeps me warm. Has like 20 pockets – useful to avoid excess baggage weight on flights.

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

Book - A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey. An unassuming man who goes through extraordinary events in life and is grateful for everything he has. Life isn’t about riches – it’s as rich as you make it to be.

Movie – Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Never say no to an adventure, and always be on the lookout for new experiences.

What is your typical 'Slushy FM' genre? Do you have a particular favourite? “Random” and “Shuffle” are two underrated words in music selection.

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

  • A sight – snow drifting over the ground – very David Attenborough and makes you feel like you’re in a documentary, which is what this year feels like.
  • A smell – Monday roast coming out of the oven. My calendar has this saved as a countdown alert.
  • A feeling – That fresh air hitting your face every time you open the door to the outside. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
  • A taste – Sparkling water out of the post-mix machine. It’s surprising something as mundane as water can surprise you, just like how even after months down here at Mawson, this place still amazes and impresses me to no end.

Do you have a favourite quote that you’d like to leave us with? Magnificent desolation. Sums up the majesty and remoteness of this beautiful place. This always comes to mind every time I look outside a window.