A special event as the weather gets colder

Anzac Day 2022

A few days ago, we at Mawson station celebrated a special day, Anzac Day. Why is Anzac Day special? Because it is the day when we remember the fallen, ancestors of bygone days who stood in the front of our enemies and said enough is enough. Many paid the ultimate price, and for that they have their names immortalised on a plaque, and every year we pause to remember them and the price they paid.

For me it is a time to remember the ramp ceremonies and memorial services to pay tribute to the sailors, soldiers and air crew that have lost their lives in the defence of our nation. It’s also a time to remember the personnel that Australia has lost on humanitarian missions, where, through no fault of their own, they too lost their lives.

This year’s Anzac Day, we started with a dawn service at 0830, at the flag poles that you can see on our webcam. It was quite cold and with wind chill, it was down to -40˚C. This was followed by a gunfire breakfast prepared by our chef Donna. Two-up and some other games were played in the workshop, where a wonderful spit roast was cooking lovingly under the watchful eyes of everyone.

Here at Mawson, we have five ex-Defence expeditioners, a third of our station population. Bec, our Station Leader, recently ended her 32-year career with the Royal Australian Navy, where she rose to the rank of Captain and faced recent challenges including assisting with the evacuation operations in Afghanistan, Covid19 and the bushfires of 2019-20. Of the other four, three are also ex-Navy. Our two electricians (Kat and Nathan), and our Comms Tech (Troy) also spent a number of years in the service of our nation in the senior service. That just leaves one final ex-Defence expeditioner, me; Sealy. I served in the Royal Australian Air Force for 13 years as a Motor Transport Fitter; I am the Station Mechanical Supervisor here at Mawson.

This is my fourth year in Antarctic service, each one has been special in its own way. At Davis in 2015, the 21 of us celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in Antarctica, with 4 ex-serving and our Doctor in the Reserves; four Army, and one Air Force. In 2017 at Casey, we had four ex-serving, two from both the Army and Air Force. At Macquarie Island in 2020, we had all three services represented, and due to Covid19, we were among the only people allowed to gather for Anzac Day services anywhere in the world.

Lest We Forget

Kia Kaha

William Seal (Sealy)

And in other news...

This week has been a busy one (for sleepy Mawson). Field travel training has now been conducted for all of the station personnel, so we are free to start recreational travel around the Station Operating Area – one group took advantage of their new-found trained status and made it out to Hendo Hut for a Saturday night off station and some exploring around Mount Henderson and Lake Henderson. Returning on Sunday afternoon full of tales of ice sculptures, mountain views, and rousing sunsets (and cold huts).

Our first sea-ice measurements have been taken in Horseshoe Harbour and we have SO much ice… 55 cm thick across the bay for our first round of measurements. That’s already almost thick enough to drive a Hägglunds across. At least we get something out of the very very cold temperatures we’ve been experiencing – perfect sea-ice growing weather!

And then of course, the highlight of our week, we commemorated Anzac Day on Monday. A beautiful and moving dawn service saw the whole station turn out at the flag poles overlooking icy Horseshoe Harbour. It was a wee bit cold (-24C plus wind chill) but worth it to stand out at sunrise and reflect on the sacrifice of those who have come before us. As part of the commemorative address we “Reflected on the men who survived Antarctica’s cold bite only to be cut down in battle just months after their return; on these men who have displayed the characteristics of the Anzac spirit when at war, and when exploring this hostile continent. I like to believe the Anzac spirit lives on in each one of us (why else would we be here); comradeship, selflessness, courage, and tenacity of spirit. Let us always strive to display those characteristics so we can be worthy of the memory of those who came before us and who we remember today.”

Then the Anzac tradition continued with Two-up, giant Jenga (potentially a new tradition), drinks and a spit roast lamb down in the workshop – two-up was played with extreme enthusiasm; the ‘money’ – Mawsonbergs – being gambled away with abandon by some, with others playing more ‘strategically’. Even if it wasn’t real money, the competition was real. A truly great way to finish off the day. A day where we truly feel blessed to be in such a beautiful location and able to reflect on the freedoms we have because of those who have served and sacrificed for us.

Bec J, SL