Work and life - we have it in balance

Mawson tradie adventures – the sequel

We have just passed the six month mark on station and it’s time for another tradie update by Antarctica’s favourite (only?) purple-haired sparky chick.

Important things first - the station continues its fantastic good fortune with two incredibly maintained and fully operational treadmills.

After a pitch blade motor replacement, a motor winding fix and then three days in a row up the tower fault finding, the wind turbine is back online and pumping out the kilowatts! The wind turbine energy is mainly used for the stations heating and it reduces the amount of diesel required to be burnt . At almost 20 years old, the turbine is still going strong. A very big thanks to the previous sparkies who have spent hours in the cold, cramped and very greasy tower to keep it so well maintained. With renewable technology advancing so quickly it will be interesting to see how Mawson is powered in the future - I would love to see more turbines down here (I’m a big fan!).

Other works from August include:

  • New cable run for the ionosonde (science project that ‘pings’ ionosphere to determine the effectiveness of radiowaves)
  • Anemometer replacement (wind sensor) after it blew off
  • Second open heart surgery on the dish washer (pump replacement)
  • Covid ward installed complete with Covid proof installation
  • 1000 hour service on Generator 4 (with the station's new dieso Bec taking charge)
  • Lots of love given to the waste treatment plant. New disks are cleaning the water up sparkling clear and new float sensor keeps her running in auto
  • Station's first igloo complete (with the plan for many more)
  • New photocopier installed in the workshop
  • Stations control and monitoring system repaired (PCB died)
  • Maintenance party out to Colbeck hut to exchange gas bottles, fuel and safety checks
  • Station wide treasure hunt for new batteries and spare parts was a success
  • Construction of 3rd WTG complete (Thanks chippy Davo - not sure how the timber will last in the weather though)
  • Station incinerator repaired (picky eater, did not like metal cans)
  • Generator exhaust leak repaired (crack welded up)

See ya next time

Cheers, Kat

Deep field preps, wine, dinner and penguins (again)

Another quiet week on station. We continue to prepare for our deep field trip to Kloa Point, which looks good to proceed from this Sunday. Fingers and toes are crossed that we will get the weather break needed for the team to get as far as Ledingham. If successful, they can then wait for the next weather window to make the camping portion of the journey – visiting two rarely seen emperor penguin colonies along the way.

The weather has been the Mawson usual. Windy. Blowing snow. Cold. And as is usual it was on a Saturday (and then Monday and Tuesday). So, in case we needed it, a great excuse to stay in and sample Donna’s fine cooking over a big family dinner. This included a concurrent blind wine tasting, to try and separate the station’s oenophiles from the wine dorks. Let’s just say there are no future sommeliers amongst the group, but some lively discussion ensued and some lovely wines were sampled.

The weather broke on Sunday long enough for one quick trip out to see the emperor penguins at Auster Colony. This is the last chance for a little time as there will be no extra trips off station while the team are away on the Kloa trip. Many, many, many photos were taken to tide us over until we’re able to return (as you will see by the photo gallery we have provided this week for your viewing pleasure). The growth spurt over a few weeks is extraordinary; penguin chicks are now in their famous creches forming huddles to shelter from the wind and blowing snow. Alternatively they may be wandering across the sea-ice calling for their parents to return with food, or appropriating other's parents when they can for a little warmth, before quite roughly being ejected out onto the ice to continue their search. Little fluff balls that glow in the sun, with feet that seem far too large which they will grow into over the next few months. We can’t wait to return to see them again.

Bec J, Mawson SL