This week at Mawson, Rob Clayton, one of our electricians over the summer takes us through his season in Antarctica.

This week at Mawson.

Hi, I’m Rob one of the summer electricians. It's my first trip to Mawson, having spent the last two summers working at Casey.

It’s a very different feel working here with only 30-odd people on station (they’re not all odd). Fewer people makes for a calmer, more chill atmosphere on station! Coming down by ship, it’s a gradual introduction to the continent and then the flight from Davis gives a real feeling of “I’m a long way from home”. If you look on the map, Mawson is about halfway between Western Australia and South Africa. Another cool thing is we have our own Australian Time zone, which is a six-hour difference to Eastern Summer Time. (Look up Mawson on your phone for time zones).

The situation is quite different to Casey and Davis, where all the expeditioners arrive at a similar time. Here the summer team join the winter team, which has already been on station for nine months. We were wondering how well we would fit in here but as it turned out, we have been accepted into the community without hesitation and made to feel very welcome!

Recently we finished our main power house shutdown – for us it’s one of the big ticket items of the season. For two weeks we run power from the emergency power house to get the work and retesting done. The following season depends upon its reliability for the next 12 months so we need to get the work done right! All the trades worked really well together getting the work done with minimal fuss and within expected time lines.

There is a lot of downtime when on station, so it's good to have a hobby. I’m normally into a lot of outdoor activities – any chance to get out and have a look around I’m keen. Dave our FTO has set up a climbing wall, so a few of us have been making use of that too. When the weather is good, after work you can find me walking around East Arm and West Arm of Horseshoe Bay with camera at the ready – there’s always something different to see every trip. With the ice recently blown out we have a lot more wildlife around, Adelie’s, emperors and lots of Weddell seals and occasionally, whales. Not all Weddell seals look the same, as it turns out! They’re mostly pretty chill, occasionally grumpy, but very photogenic! An interesting detail – they have some very strange vocalizations. I’m yet to get a good recording but it’s worth a look/ listen on YouTube, you can find a few sites which have a repertoire of recordings.

Last week we had our first decent blow of the summer, for some of us our first blizzard in Antarctica. With winds gusting over 70 knots, and low visibility, it met the blizzard criteria! Unfortunately it also blew our chances of an Australia Day swim. That's likely to happen later when we get better weather.

Rob Clayton

Mawson 76th ANARE.