It’s my birthday on Friday. I swapped with the doctor way back in February to do Station News on my 40th birthday. Turns out I was the second person to swap with her that week, so big thank you to Marissa for changing again - you don’t get this chance often.
I have had my birthday present from my fiancée Michelle sitting on the shelf above my bed, waiting for this day since we got here in mid-February. Next to this is my birthday card from Mum and Dad and the pack of shortbread cream that they have sent me wherever I’ve been around the world! They're still my favourites from when granny used to keep them in the cupboard hidden from the other cousins, a tradition my mum does for my nieces today.
I thought I would see what happened on this day 40 years ago in the old station logbooks and compare it with what is happening now and how different it looks. This idea of old and new lasted less time than it took to walk from the Red Shed across to the Ops building where the old station logs are stored. 1983 is missing! Completely. The shelf goes from 1982-1984. The book style doesn’t change, just the year is missing. No one here knows where it is. Maybe the station leader from 1983 took them back by accident and they are now sitting at AAD Kingston? Or is this the year that never happened?! (Cue conspiracy theories).
Time is absolutely flying down here, we’re already six months through our trip and the first flights are looming large in a matter of weeks. We will be heading west to Fold Island next week to photograph the rookery there and have a quick look at the fuel caches along the way. It will be our longest trip so far and the most isolated I have ever been.
It’s a different feeling when you're standing out on the sea ice proving the track at the start of the season. Of course, many people have travelled that route over the years by dogsled and machine but at one small moment in time, you are the first and only person on earth to ever stand on that small piece of ice. A a few months ago it didn’t exist, and in a few more months it will cease to exist again. That’s why the saying goes: “The job description says expeditioner, but the resume always says, explorer!”
Ben John (Mawson Station mechanical supervisor, deputy station leader, workplace health and safety officer, flag marshall, search and rescue team leader, firefighter and station barber)