Sunday, 30 June 2013

Sunday 30th June 2013

11am and still dark outside. I had organised a quad trip to Welsh Island but Keldyn was taking the Hag to Hendo with John, Peter C and the doc, so I had to stay back to run the fire team. It was a very dark and overcast day any way.

Late in the afternoon I was getting cabin fever so I decided to go for another walk. This time I walked over to an unnamed Island between Hump and Teyssier Islands where I saw something on top of it yesterday. On the way I walked over Hump Island and saw lots of old tower and radio antenna tie down points from the past. On top of the unnamed Island was an old stone cairn. I added a few more rocks and then headed off towards Teyssier Island and then Lee Island but it was getting too dark to take photos so I headed back over to Entrance Island where I climbed up and found another stone cairn which I added a few more rocks.

This Island was due downwind from Mawson and there was a bit of wood wedged into rocks and cracks probably from the days when rubbish was placed onto the sea ice and set on fire with the wind blowing the remains away. I was hoping to check out a seal hole I saw a few weeks ago but it was getting too dark so I headed across the bay to west arm. Crossing the tide cracks in the dark was a bit dodgy as they can be a jumbled mess with large cracks and sea water pushing up on high tides.

It was too dark to traverse west arm so I stayed in the harbour and walked back to the station getting home with the usual facial encrusted snotstickles and my rabbit hat frozen to my head. It was a nice walk and good exercise. I really need a field trip as I’m getting cabin fever. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing my laundry and getting my Blog up to date.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Saturday 29th June 2013

Today was a nice day without wind so I decided to go for a long walk out on east bay around the ice cliffs and grounded ice bergs. I was really hoping to organise a trip some where this weekend but there was just too many things going on and late nights etc, but some times it's really nice to just get away on your own for a while.

I started of taking a self portrait next to the ice cliff and just as the camera went off the cliff snapped and I nearly jumped out of my pants, he was telling me to back off. The sun was below the horizon and even though it was dark the lighting was quite interesting. I didn't get back till well after dark and it was nice to walk back using my head torch as to tend to see lots of interesting things close up.

After another one of Keldyns great diners (Portuguese chicken) we watched a documentary on the tour de France.

Remember this not long ago?

Friday, 28 June 2013

Friday 28th June 2013

Well, today was my birthday so I slept in till late. After a bit of a chomp I went for a long walk all around the station taking it all in. For a while I sat out on West arm ice sheet and listened to the ice cliffs cracking and groaning, it's a sound you will never forget.

The ice is alive and it's great to sit and listen to it moving; that is unless you are up near an ice wall then it's a sound that makes you shit yourself. When I came back to the station I went for a slow look around in all the old station buildings to suck up a bit of history. In one of them I found an old 30-30 bulled casing.

As Justin the Chef was away down at Tailor rookery with Peter L, Jeremy, Cliff and Darron; Keldyn decided to be the cook and cooked up Japanese with miso soup and sushi and some other stuff, what a fine job he did. After dinner the remaining crew sang happy birthday and presented me with a cake Justin made before he left.

We washed down dinner with some of Cookie's 1000 year old whisky, gold leaf Vodka and black Sambooka shots then later we watched "Meet the Fockers" and after that talked shit till late into the night.

Found a tie down from the 1960 Dakota aircraft

Hope the waters hot
So hard to keep the bliz out

My birthday cake

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Thursday 27th June 2013

This morning I reprogrammed the three Hag GPS units to include Colbec and Auster routes. It was bloody cold outside as the temperature has dropped back down to minus twenty. After this I went down to the Biscoe hut taking all the new wifi equipment and packed up the TV and video conference unit, then I installed wifi in the Biscoe hut. Yes the old original Biscoe hut has finally come of age with both video conference and wifi all in the one week.

I also installed wifi in the mechanical workshop and the chippies workshop. After work I once again had a nice spa. After dinner the foreign movie for this week was “The piano”, not a bad movie although some one said that was the last movie Kirk Cobain watched before killing himself. Swift & Shift came later and as usual we laughed our eye balls out.

The Biscoe hut has the sloped roof

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Wednesday 26th June 2013

This morning I finished getting all the rubbish out of the ARPANSA building and then made up labels and a spare parts list and labelled all the spares and boxes. In the afternoon I got the green Hag to use as a dump truck and removed all the rubbish from the transmitter hut and took it all to the rubbish skip. After all this heavy lifting all day I was knackered so I went and had a relaxing spa.

Not this one !

That one

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Monday, 24 June 2013

Monday 24th June 2013

Today the sixty knot blizzard was still raging outside so I decided to spend the whole day in the ARPANSA building cleaning up all the wiring, sorting out all the spare parts, making an inventory of all the spares and cleaning out all the rubbish and other items not required in there. These two tasks have been on my list to do since I got here and it will be nice to cross them off; besides that all those messy cables have been hurting my eyes every time I walk in.

I spent about five hours up a ladder looming and segregating all the cables in the cable basket and as you can see it looks a lot better now. I have quite a lot of gear and rubbish in a large pile to either throw out or place into the green store and I will print out some labels to put on the boxes of spare parts to make it easy to find things. That's another building done. By the time I finished I was exhausted and yawning while eating my dinner, so I decided to get an early night as I am slushy tomorrow.



Much better

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Sunday 23rd June 2013

I had a nice sleep in and when I woke it was blowing 50 knots with zero visibility. I had a shower and some scraps for lunch. After lunch I went out and dug the spa cover out of the snow and tied it back onto the spa. After this I went down to the radio shack to play around with the 1kW amplifier.

After a few hours of messing about, I took off my fleece top and when I picked up the PTT cable going to my Flex radio there was a big static spark and after that the PTT would lock up every time I pressed it, so I think the spark has done some major damage. I was so disappointed I just left things as they were and walked back to the red shed. I had some scraps for diner and later watched a movie called “The Edge Horizon”.

If I can't repair this one then it's all over with nothing to do but play darts and pool.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Saturday 22nd June 2013

I woke at midday and it was still blowing hard. After checking my emails, the ANARESAT and the news I stumbled out into the mess and the place was deserted. Lucky I was able to find an old pizza calzone at the back of the fridge so I didn’t have to think too hard about food preparation. While I was having a chomp and a coffee a few ragged expeditioners stumbled back into camp.

Loud music was forbidden throughout the day and I believe the hospital became critically low on Panadol pills.

I could have done with a relaxing spa but outside was out of the question (funny as it was so good last night) and I couldn’t be bothered gearing up and making the trek down to the green store. So in the end I decided to have a lock-in and get my Blog up to date which was no mean feat when the motor was only firing on three cylinders. I only ventured out for more coffee and at one stage to wash my rust stained white shirt. Dinner was the fancy duck we couldn’t get down last night and there was a fair bit of crude jovial conversation as a couple of bottles of wine were popped to wash the duck down. Trent and the Doc never made an appearance and there was some whispering maybe someone should go outside and dredge the spa, but it was decided it was too bloody cold and so we kept on chomping. After dinner there was a movie playing in the cinema but I’d already seen it so I went back to my room and finished off my Blog.

Just for interest sake, here is my mawson bullet collection so far. I wonder if they were used for target practise or for culling seals for dog food?

Thanks to George, I think I now know where they came from J

(Extract from George's 1960 diary)

"Did a balloon flight (Weather balloon) with Arab yesterday (Bill Kellas) – 40000 feet, elevation 22 degrees. KB and I shot at it with the 303 rifle – missed. To give it a fair chance we didn’t shoot till after it was at about 100 feet/30 m and that didn’t improve our chances"

Bill Kellas working the theodolite; Ken Bennett working the .303 inch army rifle.
And on another note, check out this link for a great old movie about the first Volkswagen Beetle to come to Antarctica. Mawson of course.

Published on Sep 25, 2011

Here's a 1963 cinema short featuring the Volkswagen Beetle which was sent to Antarctica in 1963 for use by the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition.

Named "Antarctica 1", the Beetle was a slightly-modified standard production vehicle built at the Australian factory in Clayton, and shipped over on the Nella Dan.

Following its return to Australia, it was displayed in various places, and entered in - and won - the 1964 BP Rally. After that, it disappeared. Current whereabouts are unknown, but it's generally thought to have been scrapped...

Friday, 21 June 2013

Friday 21st June 2013

On the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice; we woke with the wind still blowing at over 45 knots. Well this is Mawson after all. The day started with a wiz bang breakfast at 08:00mbt. (mbt = Mawson basted time, a hangover from the days when the station used to operate on GMT) I had a couple of smoked salmon bagels, the breakfast for a king.

At 09:00mbt we had a video conference from Biscoe hut (Weddell) to Kingston and all other stations, including a brief by the minister Tony Bourke. So after breakfast I raced down to make sure it was going to work and thankfully it did. The video conference was quite entertaining with Kingston and every station giving a presentation. When it came to Tony Bourke, the video slowed down and it sounded like he was drunk and we were all rolling with laughter until it speeded up and we realised it was just a technical problem. The guy’s on Macquarie Island made an awesome movie and the highlight was Cliff; our assistant plumber being presented with the directors award for outstanding service to the division over many years. Well done Cliff you deserved it.

That's Sir Cliff on the left with his arms crossed

After the video conference everybody had a rest while I went off to do the ARPANSA filter change, then it was lunch in the Biscoe hut at 11:30mbt where we ate Mawsons 100 year old menu. On the way back from  ARPANSA I had to quickly get dressed in my Carharts (Canadian arctic clothing) to look old school. The meal was fantastic and a real credit to Justin. Mind you the seal was replaced with wallaby and the penguin was replaced with guinea fowl. The Biscoe hut looked fantastic and was an ideal setting and a credit to Cooky's hard work. Everybody on the video conference was commenting about it also.

At 13:30mbt it was Dr Neil Streten’s final farewell. Neil was a past expeditioner and Bill’s boss back in 1960 here at Mawson. Neil passed away last year and his wish was to have his ashes spread over Antarctica. As Neil was a weather forecaster for the Bureau of Meteorology while here at Mawson, we thought it fitting to send his ashes up into the stratosphere by a weather balloon where the winds would disperse his ashes all over the continent. Cookie read a nice farewell speech and in fifty knots we all stood at attention while Luc released the balloon and we saluted Neil farewell as the balloon lifted high into the atmosphere and out of site, eighteen kilometres on his final flight.

Dr Neil Streten - Antarctic Expeditioner

Farewell Neil

As it was now blowing fifty knots, the traditional mid-winters swim was cancelled until better conditions prevail and the outdoor spa didn’t look too inviting either, so we had a three hour gap in the program and some of us took advantage of this to sneak in a nanny nap. At 17:30mbt we all assembled for dinner in the mess, most of us wearing our finest threads. It was a serene scene that reminded me of a group of blokes all scrubbed up for a wedding. Dinner was superb and once again Justin had done a fine job. I don’t know why he can’t do this every day? There were so many courses it just kept coming out and eventually we were so full we had to call it quits and save the rest for tomorrow night.   

After a bit of yackety yak we all retired to the snow cave for Port and some intellectual conversation. It was very comfortable with fourteen of us inside and we all enjoyed the special moment together.

Eventually we had to crack on with the show and we all reconvened up stairs in Klub Katabatic while we waited for the organisers to open the theatre. We were all issued with our personalised tickets and without your ticked you weren’t allowed in. The usher escorted everybody to their allotted seat and then the show began with Cliffy blowing a bit of blues on his harmonica. Keldyn was the organiser and MC and he kicked off with a little entertaining spool of a few funny words about each expeditioner and then the show began.

Justin (Chef) put on a time laps movie he has spent the year making from the sail down to spectacular auroras. It was fantastic and worth the hard work he has put in making it.

Cookie (Station leader) jumped up and gave a little talk about his love of protest songs and how he was influenced by them as he grew up and to our surprise he burst into song with one of his favourite numbers.

The Doc was next with a great rendition of one of his favourite funny poems. Apparently he gets together with his crusty old mates from time to time who all enjoy a poem or two.

John (Field training officer/store man) gave a talk about his lifelong passion for mountain climbing and then played a short movie of a US couple climbing one of Americas most difficult and scenic climbs. Amazing footage John, don’t forget our Rum doodle climb, and I promise not to get my boot stuck again.

Next up was Trent or Troy, (Electrician) I can never remember that guy’s name. Actually I do but I keep calling him Troy for a laugh. Any way he put on an interesting slide show of his previous job and life working in the wilderness way up in Canada.

I was standing at the urinal with Craig and......

Then we took a break as Pepe went off to prepare himself for his act. While we waited Peter L surprised us all with the unveiling of the 66th ANARE Mawson plaque. It is magnificent and will be the bench mark for station plaques for years to come and we are all very proud of it. Well done Pete, fantastic job.

Finally Pepe was ready. (Communications technical officer) He was dressed as an “Old Hag” and Geoff was acting as her expeditioner husband. It was a very funny sketch and went over well but man, was she ugly. Any excuse to dress in drag Pepe is up for it.

Next act was Keldyn (Plumber) who put in a gutsy effort singing a couple of songs while playing the guitar and then he played a couple of numbers on his clarinet.

Then it was Jeremy (Diesel mechanic) and Geoff’s (senior diesel mechanic) turn that also put in a gutsy effort singing a couple of songs while Jeremy played the guitar that he had only started to learn two months ago. Great job Jeremy and don’t give up when we go home as you have a bit of talent there.

Up next was Luc (Senior weather observer) who gave a presentation of his new property in King Lake and some photos of his work clearing the land and building a huge shed. He also talked about his house plans he is designing himself in his spare time whilst down here. The chicken with the shaved butt was a bit of a worry. No wonder he wants to build off the road out of sight.

Then it was my turn. (Senior communications technical office) For quite some time I had been trying to decide what I would do. Before leaving home I asked the kids to make something for me to take down south with me; a movie, their favourite songs etc. Well they did and I have had the memory stick in my draw all this time waiting for mid-winters to see what they had done and when I saw what they did I was totally blown away and touched to the core. They had put together four photo montages and some movie of our lives together. There were so many fun times and it was great to see such happy kids all growing up together and it made me realise how lucky I am, so much so I decided to show it to the whole team. I was worried it might not interest some of the guy’s and said I wouldn’t be insulted if they left the room for a drink or something but everybody sat and enjoyed it as much as I did. Later I received so many comments about how nice it was to see such a happy bunch of kids and how lucky I am. It went over well and I think the timing was perfect to reflect on family and loved ones back home. Thanks Sarah, Jackson, Iyan and Jade; you are all now famous.

Next on was Peter L (Carpenter) who showed some photos about his beloved home town in southern New South Wales. It’s a top spot where Peter spends his spare time surfing with his kids. Peter’s beautiful daughter passed away during his last expedition and he dedicated his presentation to his lovely daughter and allowed us to meet her. Nice one Pete.

Next up was Sir Cliff (Assistant plumber) who was by now pretty well pickled after celebrating his Directors award. Even so, Cliff is a talented Fijian guitar player and he belted out a few classy tunes while trying not to fall off his chair. Well done Cliff you bloody legend.

Finally, after blowing out the schedule by about three hours we arrived at the final act; Peter C (senior electrician) and Darron (Weather observer & MET tech) and Keldyn out front as the lead singer who put together a band only a couple of days ago to entertain us while we danced the night away NOT. These guys went full out on their costumes (a bit like Kiss) which kinder over rode their musical talents. But full credit to them, they managed to get an encore and kept going for a few more songs. Well done boys.


Well, I think it was somewhere between 03:00 – 04:00mbt when I decided to have a spa out in minus twenty and sixty knot winds. The water was lovely except the rust died my white shirt a nice orange colour and my hair and beard froze solid requiring one to submerge from time to time to alleviate the ice cream headache. When I dived in fully clothed my reasoning was it saved me having to walk out semi naked, but when it came time to get out the other guy’s had towels and dry clothes in the Hag parked close by. Hmm, that kinder posed a slight conundrum, should I just sleep out here or make a mad dash for the red shed. The soft warm bed won out and so I made a mad dash back to the red shed and by the time I got to the shower I had completely seized up and turned into the tin man with my cloths frozen around me. Lucky my finger tips could just reach the hot tap and after a few seconds I melted into a floppy mess. It was an awesome day for all and a day we will all remember forever. Thanks Keldyn and Justin for the effort you both put in.

Good "hick" night