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Mawson Newsletter, April 1980

April was an action packed month at Mawson. It was off to a good start with some imaginative schemes to catch the unwary on the first day. Several bleary-eyed early risers were caught when signs on donga doors announced that breakfast would be held on the recently frozen ice of Horshoe Harbour. Being intelligent chaps they quickly caught on to this one, and proceeded directly to the mess, only to find it completely vacant of persons and furniture. Seems nightwatch man 'Cosin' (Kevin Campbell) and slushy 'Sojo' (Sjoerd Jongens) had been doing their homework and carted everything onto the harbour as promised. It was a calm clear morning and all were served their favourite brekky, cereals etc, watching as the rising sun shone over our new powerhouse. George Seidl joined the small gathering, arriving at the breakfast table on ice skates.

During lunch the same day, Warren was handed an urgent message from Head Office by 'Godfather' (Syd Kirkby), looking worried. They were distressed to learn that he had forgotten to include the Malgumflurohexgide in his concrete in the new powerhouse. 'Liz's' (Warren Cannon) jaw dropped and he almost couldn't finish his lunch wondering how long it would take to jackhammer out all that defective concrete. Someone noticed Peter 'Stix' Stickland quietly laughing in the corner and the truth was forced out of him. Looking for a long word to catch them with he searched through a toothpaste advertisement and his evil mind set to work ...

The traverse team were alarmed to learn that a highly infectious disease had been found at Mawson, that the base was quarantined for a month, and that they were to stay at Rumdoodle Hut in the meantime. Worse still was that no beer could be sent out there since it may have been contaminated. We heard that 'Jumbo' (Graham Pryde) was nearly in tears.

Towards the end of the March our sea-ice began to form as all watched anxiously, however all but our harbour ice keeps blowing away, not to mention the notorious Horseshoe Harbour iceberg. The morning after the first freeze over, Charles 'Tiv' Tivendale our famous Glaciologist, decided it was time to string up his sea ice monitoring equipment from East Arm across to Entrance Island. A crew who shall remain nameless (hint OIC and Met Tech) enthusiastically launched the dinghy in an attempt to tow the cable across to the island, but found that sea ice forms quite quickly in the night. Being resourceful chaps they discovered that progress could be made by kangarooing the craft and are now thinking of selling the idea to Nella Dan.

A planned trip to Mt Henderson by 'Bear' (Tony Everett), 'Gnome' (Andy Crook), and 'Liz' (Warren Cannon) went wrong somewhere. Their previously arranged radio sked came acroos as expected and signals were loud and clear, in fact unusually so. It seems they had broken down just past the dog line in West Bay and were still there. However the vehicle was repaired and next weekend, with 'Drobo' (David Robinson) their trip went off without incident, and slides were produced to prove that they really did make it to Mt Henderson, despite strong radio signals again received.

The highlight of the month was a visit to the station by the Russians. It was a sad goodbye to Nick Voloshinov, the 79/80 Russian guest at Mawson, and a warm welcome to Eugene Poltev, his replacement. True to reputation, the Russians arrived in a spectacular way in an enormous single rotor turbo helicopter, and we all gazed in amazement at the number of people and the amount of equipment which emerged from it. The Russians were taken on a tour of the base and this was followed by a small ceremony to say goodbye to Nick with our best wishes for the future. He will long be remembered by us all when we think back on our stay at Mawson. The Mawson party were invited out to the 'Mikail Somov' the next day but unfortunateeeely bad weather prevented this. Just before she sailed onwards though, the helicopter returned with a hut underneath which will be used to house Eugene's equipment. As a parting gesture, two Husky pups, Dino and Kesha, were presented to the russians to be taken to Mirny Base.

With the final leg of the traverse underway, a dog team was hitched up and a quick mercy dash was made to depot a ration of beer for the lads, who were apparently beginning to show signs of strain form their prolonged abstenance. We understand that the ovens worked overtime to thaw out the frozen cans and rumour has it that some didn't even notice that it was frozen. This seemed to revitalize them for the next day they triumphantly returned home, and after well earned showers were telling tall tales and true of the traverse. A good effort by 'Brutus' (Dave Blaby), 'Rusty' (Robert Yost), 'Jumbo' (Graham Pryde), 'Big Daddy' (Brian Gaull), 'Slug' (Tom Maggs), 'Weather' (Bob Schahinger), 'Father' (Brian Ball), and 'Snoopy' (Garry Hardie).

A few snippets of Mawson Gossip: 'Shakey' (Steve Harris) has impressed us all with his fine ice-yacht efforts on Horseshoe Harbour. Concreting was completed on the new powerhouse, with thanks to 'Liz', 'Bear', 'Siggy' (Jeff Sigston), 'Doc' (Lloyd Fletcher), 'Godfather', 'Drobo' (Dave Robinson) and others. Of the most recently born pups, two have survived and were named Jamann (male) by Liberty (Jim Vallance) and Keb (female) by 'Weather'. 'Nobby' (Rob Petrini) spends his evenings producing excellent Antarctic paintings. Saturday has recently been declared soprts day with the first event a well attended baseball game. 'Dagwood' (Dagur Viljalmsonn) is teaching us how to drink whiskey and sing the Icelandic National Anthem. 'Liz' deserved credit for the fine examples he sets from Dovers. Mawson is looking picturesque after a recent blow which left large drifts around most buildings, now floodlit at night, thanks to 'Phredd's' (Alf Humphries) climb up a 150 ft tower at the top of the hill.


Syd Kirkby