After departing Hobart on 10 February we, the newest Mawson residents, finally arrived at our new home at the base of the Antarctic ice plateau 16 days later on 26 February.
We feel very blessed to have been able to sail south on the luxurious MV Aiviq, with a voyage that encompassed whale, seal and bird sightings a plenty, visitations from the awe inspiring Aurora Australis (AKA Southern Lights), and a plethora of picturesque icebergs on which to test out our new found photographic skills (we have a little to a lot of work to do to perfect those skills before the all-important visit to the Auster Rookery later in the winter!). A huge thanks to the wonderful crew and voyage management team who looked after us so well as we sailed south.
As the temperatures dropped and we moved into more southerly latitudes, many were possibly questioning what they’d got themselves in for, but as the Framnes Mountains appeared in the distance as we sailed down the eastern side of Iceberg Alley and then the ‘Lego-land’ village of Mawson appeared, there was generally a feeling of great expectation and excitement for what was to come.
We find we have been doubly blessed as we stepped foot ashore and were welcomed to our new home by the truly fabulous outgoing team (the 74th ANARE) who have left us a station that is looking spick and span and who had made a most significant dent in the cargo offload and backload of Return to Australia (RTA) cargo into the enormous holds of the MV Happy Dragon (which was beautifully moored in Horseshoe Harbour waiting expectantly to assist us with the refuelling from the Aiviq) before we had even arrived.
What has followed has been a frantic week of refuelling whenever the weather allows, unpacking of cargo, coupled with inductions and handovers between the incoming and outgoing teams whenever there is a break in the resupply and refuelling. There is some good-natured jostling as the old guard says their poignant farewells to station and each other, pack up their personal effects and empty their rooms, and prepare to head back to warmer climes and as the new guard sucks in as much information from them as possible before they depart and begin to settle in and make Mawson their home.
All going well, today the 74th ANARE will board the Aiviq and start their journey home. We, the 75th promise, as the next caretakers of Mawson Station, we will take up the baton and do our best to care for this special place following in the traditions of who have come before us.
Fair winds and following seas to the 74th ANARE. Job well done, rest now, the station is ours.
Rebecca Jeffcoat, Incoming Station Leader