One of our station electricians, Jimmy, describes his Mawson journey (so far), and the station enjoys sunsets, snow, dinners, and weather balloons!

A journey just begun

Nineteen of us made the journey, many not knowing what to expect, apart from the bitter cold. Well, it took a little over two weeks on the sometimes angry rolling ocean, interrupted with a few precious days of respite before we landed on what we are to call our home for over a year. Mawson!

With teamwork and friendship, we undertook what could have been a daunting period of accelerated learning and familiarisation, playing catch up on old systems and new rules. The realisation that we were in Antarctica and going to experience things others only dream of still brings wide smiles to many a face.

The ever-changing vista from our games room windows with its beautiful sunrises over the glaciers, the afternoon’s hushed blues and purples playing over snow and ice, fat seals lounging in the sunshine, or silly little penguins chasing and arguing with each other. Antarctica has much more to offer than the bitter cold!

Adventuring into the mountains or witnessing the auroras painting the night sky with vivid green, red, and orange rivers have all of us searching now for what else does Antarctica have to offer?

So far, personally, it has given me all of the above and… the ability to push oneself. To pinch oneself. To learn something new. To teach something. To smile at everything and nothing, and to look forward to a lot…

Jimmy (Mawson Electrician)

A week of sunsets, snow, amazing food (as always), and a special weather balloon release

With a solid knowledge of long-forgotten bands, D-grade movies, and unheard-of geographical locations, our Field Training Officer Dave led his team to victory in the station trivia night a couple of months ago. As a reward for such a prestigious achievement, Mawson's team of weather observers - Albert and Robyne - from the Bureau of Meteorology put up a prize to have the chance to release a weather balloon. It was finally time to cash in the prize after work on Friday. Usually, the balloons are filled with hydrogen, which, as some may know, has some rather flammable properties and, therefore, to ensure the safety of all involved, for Dave's turn, the balloon was instead filled with much more benign helium gas. Kitted out, head to toe, in a protective suit, Dave carefully brought the balloon out from the building - thanking the heavens that the wind was only a couple of knots in strength (trust us, for Mawson - that is a miracle in itself!). Under the careful watch of Albert, making sure everything was in order, he reached up . . . and let go. Okay - it doesn't sound that exciting, but actually seeing the balloon lift into the cold, clear night kept everyone enthralled, well, at least for a few minutes until we realised that watching the data on the computer inside was much better than standing in minus 20 degrees watching a small dot high in the sky.

The night continues to close in on us daily, with sunrises beginning to merge with sunsets. There is only a week or so to go before the sun will remain below the horizon for the rest of June. This last week has been a mixture of overcast, snow-blown days and clear, calm, and cold days. With temperatures continuing to lower, getting out to watch the spectacular colours of this time of year take a bit more preparation, with thicker gloves and extra layers also making photography harder - but it is infinitely worthwhile. The rapidly growing snow drifts, and blizz tails around the station add to the constantly changing scenery and transform our rocky little outcrop into an extension of the ice plateau to our south, now melding almost seamlessly with the pristine sea-ice stretching to the horizon.

The week saw the team enjoy a couple of extra social activities as well. In light of the rapidly approaching winter solstice, which is traditionally a cause of much celebration for those wintering over in Antarctica, our chef Nick took the opportunity to test himself in delivering a fully plated up, three-course meal. Without any surprise, the food was absolutely superb, with the only downside being that when we return home, every restaurant we go to will now pale in comparison. Then on Wednesday afternoon, with an early finish to the day, those of us with some allegiance to New South Wales or Queensland (or those who simply decided to choose a side to have a chance to sledge the other) gathered in the bar to watch the first game of State of Origin. With the leader changing a few times over the course of 80 minutes, it was a close game and all up, whether blue or maroon, the Mawson team enjoyed the chance to relax.

Cat (Mawson SL)

Ben has fun with the recent snow!