Mawson has many amazing things up for offer, such as travel on the plateau with plenty of climbing and walking to be done and the wildlife that comes to station in the summer months and the amazing light shows above. But one of my favourites would be the sea ice and the fact that it allows such a vast amount of travel to occur with the Hagglunds. Over the past few months, we’ve seen the ice grow in thickness of up to a meter in most locations around station allowing for safe travel to some very special parts of the continent. But with constant reminders from the odd blizzard, you know it wont last forever, so you need to make the most of it.
The ice allows us access to most of the island’s groups close to station including Béchervaise island where in the summer (hopefully) we will have researchers come down and continue to study the Adelie penguins and other Antarctic bird life. With some great walking around the islands and a great place to stay only being 5 km from station it allows an easy escape from station life. The feeling of walking on frozen ocean around islands is something else entirely.
Further afield we have one of the few Emperor penguin colonies; at Auster, situated amongst grounded icebergs about three hours from station, it makes for an incredible sight as you can see the Emperor penguins in their natural environment. While I still believe they coped a rough deal from evolution. You have a bird that is designed to swim and hunt in the water and yet they have their chicks 80 km from the sea ice edge in the middle of winter in one of the coldest places on earth. But they manage to do a great job of it.
Sometimes it boggles my mind that only a few months ago there was open water lapping around the station edge with barges going between the resupply ships and station. Now there is thick sea ice for as far as the eye can see. Driving the Hagglunds around the sea ice takes some adjusting too, but if it means that I can go and visit places like Macey hut, nestled in the icebergs than I’m going to adjust very quickly. And then all we have to do is just sit back and watch nature do its thing.