Our plant operator Greg retells an exciting station meeting, we enjoy a Mexican themed dinner, and - while the weather cools - the winds take a short break!

An unusual dilemma arises during the station meeting

It’s all changing so fast! It seems like only yesterday, and we were enjoying warm (minus 5-ish) days, gentle breezes, and warm sunshine. Those were the days! Now, the sun doesn’t make an appearance ‘til around 9 am, the temperatures are dropping, and those katabatic “breezes” are now hooking through Mawson most nights at 60 kilometres an hour, plus.

Breaking News.

This week’s station meeting covered a wide range of topics. Health and safety, global warming, water restrictions, dietary requirements, etc.

However, the really big issue in this meeting was the discovery, by one of our more observant plumbers, of a toilet that had been left with…………………..skid marks!

Well, you could have heard a pin drop. The room went deadly quiet; nobody dared to make eye contact, and had it not been for Cat Humpries, our Station Leader taking control of the situation, I believe we’d still be sitting there, our heads bowed in shameful silence!

How could this happen? Was it really one of us? What to do about it? How do we manage this type of behaviour in the future? So many questions. Then, the even bigger question, what to do about the “mark”? As the plumber found it, should he be made to clean it? It has to be done, at some point.

One suggestion is to install black toilets, which are graffiti/skid mark resistant. This may be an option. Perhaps perform an assessment, collect what evidence there is, investigate further, and then forward the whole lot on to management for advice? If and when the person responsible for this dastardly deed is identified, there will be a punishment befitting the crime. Perhaps having them sit through an hour online learning session on toilet use may be all it takes to change their behaviour going forward.

We are sliding headlong into what is, for quite a number of us, our first Antarctic winter. And here, at Mawson, you can almost feel the excitement in the air!

Greg (Mawson Plant Operator)

The sea ice has taken hold on the station and the team enjoys amazing Mexican food (and some impressive costumes!)

This week saw quite an unusual situation for Mawson, in fact, even the Bureau of Meteorology technicians had to double-check that the anemometer was actually still working when our weather readout registered zero knots of wind!! While we had (very occasionally) seen readings below ten on the odd day or two since arriving, never had it been like this. Combined with the clear skies and temperatures around minus 20 degrees, we watched as before our eyes Kista Strait rapidly started to glaze over with sea ice. Horseshoe Harbour had locked in its ice a few weeks ago, but the Strait - aided by a few blizzards - had been stubbornly holding onto its open water.

Dave, our Field Training Officer, jumped at the chance to request permission to move out onto the Harbour's ice to test its thickness. With the aid of safety lines and plentiful volunteers from our Search and Rescue Team, the drilling came back with up to a metre thickness which is more than enough to safely support our vehicles. The next step will be to conduct sea ice safety and travel training for everyone on station while we wait a few more weeks for the ice in the Strait to thicken up.

Another wonderful advantage of having days with little to no wind is the chance to once more get outside and walk out along West Arm. For many on station who are new to Antarctica, it was difficult to believe the words of the previous team who assured everyone that they would acclimatise to the cold. However, without the piercing wind chill factor, numerous comments were heard expressing just how warm it was outside and that they had to take layers of clothing off while working!

In another highlight for the week, the social committee organised a Mexican-themed, dress-up, dinner for Saturday night. Stepping up to the challenge with ease, Nick, our chef, once again demonstrated his amazing skill to produce dishes so enticing that we will need to spend the rest of the week on the treadmill to have any chance of making the next monthly weigh-in with the doc!

On the costume front, the creative use of furniture removal blankets created authentic-looking ponchos (although they were apparently somewhat itchy); while others raided the ample costume store in the basement for a collection of day-of-the-dead masks, bright shirts, broad brim hats, and even a mean looking Mexican wrestling costume complete with mask. The stand out for creativity, though, was one of our plumbers, Neil's take on Cinco de Mayo, utilising a spare kitchen sink and a bottle of mayonnaise!!

Cat (Mawson SL)

Plumber Jess' awe-inspiring time lapse footage of the Aurora Australis over Rumdoodle Lake