This week we experience a little of the craziness that takes hold of our chef in winter. We also successfully reach the Auster Emperor Penguin Colony to our east and, not least by any standard, get a new dishwasher in the kitchen!

Middle of winter craziness from our chef, Nick

Howdy. Here is the latest from Mawson.

It has been six months, or approximately 1,136 days, since we boarded the Aiviq in Hobart. Since then, 2100 kg of bacon and three bags of brussels sprouts have been consumed. A new study has shown that the cold can impair the maths skills of even a clever chef.

In other news, the bright red Nuyina has apparently collided with a purple ship. Both crews are now marooned.

Our plumber went to the Station doctor today with hearing problems. When she asked him if he could describe the symptoms, he replied “Yes. Homer is big, yellow and lazy, and Marge has blue hair”.

We’ve just heard that next season’s onions were lost in a crash on the Brooker Highway in Hobart. Passing motorists are looking for a hard shoulder to cry on.

Centaurs buy their clothing at Topman. And Bottomhorse.

My friends back home have just welcomed a new baby. They asked if I wanted to come round and wind him when I get back. This seems a bit harsh, so I think I’ll just give him a dead leg.

And finally, some wise words from the Bureau of Met – Red sky at night - shepherd’s delight. Blue sky at night? Day.

And now, some photos of the weird and wonderful creatures we live with down here. Churr.

Nick (Mawson Chef)

Emperor Penguins, walks on the ice, and a new dishwasher!

This week on and around station, we have seen the temperature dip into new lows – dropping below -30°C. The upside of such weather is that it has been accompanied by crystal clear skies and virtually no wind! For Mawson, this is fantastic, as it allows us the opportunity to get out and off station – something that unfortunately is not at all possible when the wind picks up and produces blizzard conditions.

With satellite pictures also giving us promising indications that the sea ice around us is becoming more robust, we set into motion our plan to travel to the east and confirm the location of our closest emperor penguin colony at Auster. This colony was first discovered in 1957 by Flying Officer D. Johnston of the Royal Australian Air Force and was named for the Auster aircraft that he was flying at the time. Like most emperor penguin colonies, it is located on sea ice and moves slightly each year as the penguins seek out shelter in the lee of the grounded icebergs.

The team of six, led by our Senior Field Training Officer, Dave, set out early in two Hägglunds vehicles. Once clear of the station operating area, they took their time – stopping every kilometre to check the condition of the ice. The first day took some time, and upon arriving at our hut on Macey Island, they discovered that the winds had removed one of the doors, and therefore, they had to dig out a considerable amount of snow that had built up in and around the hut! After braving their way through a chilly night, they set out towards where the colony was last year with their fingers crossed.

Thankfully the colony had only moved a few hundred metres since last year, and the team took the opportunity to spend some time watching the penguins, taking photos, and quietly sitting while a few of the adults that didn’t have eggs came over to find out what these brightly coloured things were! After about an hour, it was time to head home, achieving a successful mission and allowing future trips to proceed safely to keep an eye on the penguins over the coming months. Many more photos to come!

For those on station who were not lucky enough to head out to the colony, there was still the chance to escape the station confines on the weekend. Two keen groups took the opportunity to head out to Welch Island for a walk up to the peak. Such exertion was rewarded with breathtaking (it was still close to -30° remember) views out over the ice and back towards the station. Others took the chance to spend a night out on Béchervaise Island, enjoying a tightly fought game of Blokus.

However, the highlight of the week – almost up there with the penguins – lay in the installation of our new kitchen dishwasher! Mitch and Neil did a fantastic job of installation over the weekend while the kitchen was quiet. The sheer joy of being able to put more than one tray into the dishwasher at a time can not be overstated.

Cat (Mawson Station Leader)