Hydroponics on station

This season I’ve been part of the Hydroponics team, growing and picking fresh produce for expeditioners to enjoy on station to supplement otherwise shelf-stable or frozen ingredients. It’s great to enjoy the warm, humid hydro shed, and even “sample” a fresh cherry tomato or two as you harvest.

Food on station

Along with questions like: “Are there polar bears in Antarctica?” and “Is it cold down there?” is also another popular one  what is the food like on station?

Benny, our station chef whips up three meals daily and keeps us well fed and happy expeditioners. The cuisine ranges from Mexican to Japanese, and pub meals to formal dining experiences. All that with only using shelf stable or frozen ingredients, supplemented by a small quantity of fresh hydroponic veggies grown on station.

Oh and do we have party ice? Yes, there’s plenty when you dig out a blizz tail just outside!

Final jolly for the season

This week I went up to Rumdoodle with two colleagues for a quick overnight jolly (recreational trip). With the last flight for the season on Thurday and the ship arriving next week it was our final opportunity to get off station, so we threw our things on the quads and headed up the plateau.

Rumdoodle is our airstrip / landing area and the closest hut to station, which often makes it overlooked by expeditioners wanting a trip away, usually further into the field. I find the craggy peaks to be amazing scenery and with it only being one hour away, a great place to spend a Monday night after work.

A trip out to the Russian Aircraft

Last week we went exploring the Russian aircraft, a Lisunov Li-2T which crashed during take-off from Mawson in 1968 and has been stuck up on the plateau ever since. It’s in an interesting location – right in the middle of a crevasse field! To visit we need to take extra precautions of roping up together and wearing climbing equipment.

It’s an absolute incredible spot to visit and definitely a highlight of the summer.

We have internets

Last Friday a colleague and I completed our “large” project of the summer, upgrading the satellite link. It was an early start and a tough day, but we now enjoy internet that is orders of magnitude faster and far more reliable, and phone calls that don’t have a huge delay on them.

An article is available on icy news.

Here comes the ocean

The sea ice near station has been closed to vehicles and vehicles, as the tide cracks had been getting quite large and slushy. In the last week, the ice in Horseshoe Harbour has turned a rather dark shade of grey, indicating it is probably full of water and ready to blow out at any moment.

We went for a walk up to Gwamm last Thursday to get a better view. Unfortunately it was an overcast afternoon, but you can see the Big Blue getting closer. To compare the sea ice imagery to the local landscape, Walsh Island is the island northeast of the station “holding in” the fast ice, and that is the predominent humpy-looking island in the picture.

The Aurora Australis departs Hobart for Mawson station in just over a week’s time. Here’s hoping we get a big blow and there’s some open water for her to get into the harbour with.

“Sunset” on station

I know I often talk about weather or the sun here on station, but it is definitely given regular consideration each day by expeditioners – is it going to be good weather to get off station? Do outdoor projects need to be tied down before a blizz hits? Is the science project going ahead? Weather is often quite the deciding factor.

This week I noticed around midnight the sun is still not setting of course, but it is far south and low over the plateau, putting the station in shadow whilst lighting up Walsh Island (the humpy one on the right) and the bergs out to sea. My quick shot on the smartphone doesn’t quite do it justice of course, but it is quite the sight down here!