Polar prose and extreme weather

Ducky's Poem

As I make my journey upon the big blue yonder

About the coldness I do wonder

How do I keep myself warm this winter?

The other Mawsonites would only hinter

A vast white land of ice and snow

So cold that no trees can grow

Mawson station holds a history rich and old

As days of past expeditions told


Unusual critters roam the land and sea

A sense of calm and the joy of being free

Hear the chitter chatter of the penguins

Hear them flap their wings

Flight is beyond their reach

So swimming to their young they teach

Home among the snow plateaus and dunes

Nestled together in their own communes


The cracking of the ice is much like thunder

As from the mainland its turn asunder

Floating islands that slowly melt away

But as ice they do not stay

As they fade away to just a core

Becoming part of the Southern Ocean forevermore


I am on my voyage to a place once uncharted

From sunlight I shall be departed

As I watch the sun set from the deck

The cool wind whips at my neck

Headed for a small research station

Named after an explorer from our nation

For a place that for one year I'll call home

Where amongst the mountains I will roam


Whilst learning all about the seabirds

Some known and others unheard

We watch the petrels in the light

And admire the Auroras in the night

The gift of nature that is all around

Some of the birds fly and others stay on the ground

We sit watching how the flying soar in the sky

And watch those on the ground how they try


I pull out the cards Sam bought on the trip

There's Monopoly Go and Uno Flip

Sixteen long days these cards must last

For boredom they must outlast

We have finally reached the dock

As I leave for the barge I take stock

And when my gear is on the wharf

I look back at the Aiviq and sigh in relief


A slap on the back from the coxswain signals me

That it's time to leave for my home to be

Where the only warmth will be inside

And the only place from the weather to hide

We’ll go four-wheel driving in snow instead of sand

As we travel along, I marvel at the beauty of this land

I have left behind all that I know

But from this experience I shall grow


A ship of steel has marooned me on the shore

On this piece of land that’s snow and more

A tundra with mountains and ice capped peaks

My next 12 months to you may seem bleak

But it doesn't calm the storm in my heart

As the ship slowly starts to depart

My tears turn to ice as they drop on my face

A stranger to this land but I feel not out of place


From Hobart to Mawson what will be my fate

A journey begins and an adventure awaits

S. Gillies, Mawson Winterer 2022

This week at Mawson: 25 March 2022 (Mawson, the home of the Blizz)

This week we have truly experienced the weather extremes that can be found in Antarctica. We enjoyed another beautiful weekend of ‘unseasonal’ sunny weather, where we roamed about the station learning our new digs, watching the sea-ice grow before our eyes, and celebrating a late St Paddy’s day dressed in Green or Irish Theme and enjoying a fabulous dinner cooked by our ‘we count ourselves lucky every day but also watch the scales with concern’ chef Donna.

Then on Monday the tables turned, perhaps because the weather gods knew that Wednesday was World Meteorological Day or perhaps because we had a schedule of field training to undertake – but our first Blizzard hit. And then it stayed, and stayed, for three days straight. Those who have been here before just nod their heads and sagely advise that this is what is to be expected at Mawson. For us newbies here, we are learning the skill of dragging ourselves along the blizz lines, of travelling in groups, and potentially finding as many jobs as possible in the shelter of the Red Shed.

The wind has blown out the sea-ice we’ve been so carefully watching grow over the last few weeks. Huge slabs of the ice in Horseshoe Harbour disappeared in just an hour yesterday. (Recommend you check out the webcam). With one large ice floe transporting two visiting, very confused looking, Emperor Penguins away as it swept out of the harbour into Kista Strait.

But with the Blizz we have learnt there is a public transport system here in Antarctica. When the station is experiencing a blizzard, we have systems in place to ensure everyone is able to move safely between the buildings and not risk that they are blown off our rock and into one of the surrounding bays (at least not without someone being aware they’ve been blown away). For this reason, we make sure people travel in pairs or groups and radio on departure from one building and on arrival at the next. And so, the Mawson Bus is born.

We have three routes, all with their final destination the Red Shed. Route A goes from the Waste Treatment Building to Ops Building to Green Store to Red Shed and Route B goes from Main Power House, to Chippy’s workshop (Rosella), to Main Workshop, to Red Shed. Route C is at the top of the station, Tank House to Red Shed (with stops as necessary at the Science Labs or Pump House). It’s great to see the teamwork involved in ensuring all who are working alone in respective buildings are collected on the Mawson Bus to get back to the Red Shed safely for meals or at the end of the day. When the wind is really blowing, the Mawson Bus turns into an express as passengers are given a ‘wind assist’ down the hill. Tickets not required, but a sense of adventure, good clothing to cover all exposed skin, and a tight grip on the blizz line (and perhaps a GoPro to film the exciting transit).

Rebecca Jeffcoat, SL