So here we are, all alone, the Winter team finally left to fend for ourselves and look after the station for the Winter of the 67th ANARE. The ship rocked up last week, there was quite a bit of indecision around what exactly was happening with it next, does it go to Mawson station to collect / drop off expeditioners or does it return straight to Hobart? Lots of changes in plan over a couple of days, lots of people scratching their heads but ultimately the ship is now sailing back to Hobart to take the Davis summerers home. They’ll be happy as it’s straight back without spending 5 weeks aboard the Aurora Australis – The inbound Mawson Winter team however are not so grateful, likewise for the guys who are waiting to be picked up from Mawson it’ll probably by April by the time they get out now.
After a few days of loading, unloading, uncertainty of what to load and what to take with them the ship did finally leave and was given a good send off from the beach. they sounded the horn, we fired off a load of out of date flares and watched them head off into the icebergs. And then everything went really, really quiet…..It’s now very eerie around station, there’s only twenty one of us now, which in itself sounds like a lot but it really isn’t – I would normally encounter a few people out and about when driving round station, now you can walk about not see anyone or anything for hours on end depending on where you are. In the evenings before you could pretty much guarantee that any night of the week you could rock up at the bar and someone would be sat there having a beer, now most people are in their rooms by 10pm, ironically the most people I saw together in one hit this week was when about twelve of us sat in the cinema and watched ‘The Shining’….Trust me, the irony of watching that wasn’t lost on us, it was deliberate 🙂
The day before the ship headed off we were able to utilise the helicopter for a long range trip as we now had a second helo that arrived with the ship allowing us to travel in company – Travelling in pairs is a requirement to allow a SAR contingent when down here, the recent accident is exacting proof of why that’s a good idea. Myself, Ellis & Dave headed out to Samson Island with the sole intention of moving about six fuel drums up and off the ice and place them on the island so that they don’t get lost or covered this Winter. I got the terrible job of going along for a couple of hours of the most awesome scenery intensive flying I’ve ever experienced, I then had the fun of getting out of a live chopper that was hovering on the ice and checking the ice was thick enough to take my weight before helping Ellis load up the drums. Along the way we visited some of the other countries stations and did some dummy approaches to their landing pads which left the Russians, Indians and Chinese all slightly confused…That was one of life’s very excellent days out…
This weekend I was quite keen to get off station to one of the huts again, mainly for fitness reasons, I like to walk good distances with a pack and just escape the humdrum of station. Myself, Ali and Josh headed off to Brooks hut for the evening, took some cheese and biscuits, a nice Thai curry and a couple of bottles of wine….the weather was superb, no wind at all, again, another day of walking in Antarctica wearing just a thermal top and shorts…..I won’t be able to do that for much longer, when the sun isn’t shining it’s now pretty cold – As a reminder of that I have to take three people out next week who arrived on the ship, they need to do overnight bivvy training, the wind will be about fifteen knots and the temperature about minus ten….Should be quite a shock for them…:)
A couple of other random photos from the last few weeks, nothing really i could write about these, hopefully they speak for themselves 🙂
Cheers for now