People, places and birthdays

Meet an expeditioner - Craig (Fitzy) Fitzmaurice

Name: Craig Fitzmaurice

Nicknames: Fitzy

From: Latrobe, Tasmania

Previous seasons?

2009-10 Summer/Winter at Casey, 2016-17 Summer/Winter at Davis, 2019 Winter at Casey,

2020-21 Summer/Winter at Macquarie Island, Mawson Winter 2022

Job title: Plumber

Describe your role in two sentences: It’s pretty tough to be able describe a plumber’s role on station, as no two days are ever the same. Briefly, we produce the drinking water, maintain the waste water treatment plant (WWTP) and ensure that the heating ventilation, gas and fire systems throughout the station are maintained.

What did you do before you joined the AAD? I have been fortunate enough to have worked in many roles throughout my working life. From driving pay loaders in wood chip mills, plumbing at the Manus Island detention centre, and also spending six years as a Plumbing Inspector in South East Queensland. A large part of my plumbing career has been in the waste water industry. Back in Tassie I’m a Works Supervisor with the Justice Department in community corrections, and also work as a Plumbing Inspector with the Latrobe Council, part time.

What is your favourite part of your job here at Mawson? My favourite part of working at Mawson, is that you never know what the day has in store for you. It’s a remarkable place to call your home.

If you were not a Plumber what would be your dream job? It’s a toss-up between a downhill ski instructor in Japan, or a motorcycle tour operator.

How does this season at Mawson compare to your previous seasons down south? The one thing you can’t do is ever compare seasons, as they are all uniquely different.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Hehehe… As a plumber on station you never have spare time. But when the important work is done I enjoy going to the gym, strumming away badly on the guitar and tinkering away in the work shop. It’s great to get away from the station at times and explore this amazing place.

What song sums up your Mawson experience so far? Green day: Good Riddance (time of your life) It’s one of the songs I can actually play badly on the acoustic guitar.

What actor would play you in a film version of our 75th ANARE season here at Mawson? Harrison Ford, as Indiana Jones.

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit? Hmmm, I would have to say my Icebreaker thermals.

What is your favourite book / movie (or both) and why? My favourite book is The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay, it’s an inspirational story. My favourite movie is Red Dog, just a great Aussie yarn.

What is your typical 'Slushy FM' genre? Do you have a particular favourite? I don’t have a typical genre, it’s pretty random.

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

A sight, a fresh covering of powdery snow.

A smell, our chef’s beautifully backed bread of a morning

A sound, the roaring katabatic winds

Do you have a favourite quote that you’d like to leave us with? The icy winds will blow long after I leave Antarctica but the experience and fond memories I have gained will last a life time.

Something people may not know about you: I play an unusual wind instrument.

More time out on the sea ice and birthday celebrations

This week has seen more activities out on the sea ice – we have been out proving the route towards Macey and the Auster Penguin Rookery – to the limits of our Station Operating Area, continuing with the measurements for ‘observations of fast ice’ project, travelling across to local islands to collect the data from the bird cameras (these will show the biologists back in Hobart how the Adele penguin’s breeding progressed over the last summer), and taking a Sunday drive to climb Welch Island just to appreciate the beautiful views back across to station.

All this gadding about has been assisted, almost encouraged, by the most extraordinary non-Mawson like weather we have ever seen. Zero knots of wind! Now that’s just not something that happens here. Those of us who have been at Mawson before keep nodding sagely and warning the newbies not to get used to it. And so, we’ve been taking advantage of the veritably tropical conditions that have resulted; -23ºC seems like a wonderful summer holiday when there’s no wind chill.

We have been taking advantage of the weather in other ways too, by moving large items around station (such as a new treadmill for the Red Shed’s cardio room), conducting maintenance work on the wind turbine, and stacking more of those fuel drums… now almost 50% of the 297 drums are stacked!

A year is a long time to be away from home and the separation hits the most when important milestones are celebrated down here on the ice while your family and friends are all back home in Australia. Luckily, we have our own little family here at Mawson. This week one of the team celebrated a milestone birthday (her 42nd for the 9th time) and it was wonderful to see the whole Mawson family band together to put on a magnificent birthday party in the guise of a Mexican Fiesta. Complete with penguin piñata, a feast of delectable Mexican food, and two birthday cakes! One to be eaten and one so cute it has instead joined us as part of the family – what monster could eat an emperor penguin chick (even if only a cake)!?!!?

So, if you have loved ones in Antarctica be assured that they will be well looked after and (should they be willing) a wonderful birthday celebration will be put on to make it a day they will always remember – possibly even as the best ever.

Bec J, SL