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Mawson Newsletter February 1980

Hello, hello, Mawson calling, bringing you news of February, a month of movement and change.

The beginning of the month saw us busy unloading 'Nanok-S' in beautiful still sunny weather, so unloading of the mostly building materials for the powerhouse and sleeping quarters went swiftly ahead. Passengers included Navy personnel and a former O.I.C. Mawson, JOHN BECHERVAISE, visiting old haunts. We were pleased to welcome them. Dagur Vilhjalmsson was able to have a nicelandic chat with Nanok as there were a number of fellow countrymen aboard.

Our 'Red Sled', the Pilatus Porter, ably piloted by John Marsden and maintained by Holger Nimz, was busy as always, weather permitting, ferrying to and from Mt King, and also squeezed in some sightseeing for the visitors; Then as Nanok departed in fine style, we gave them a great send-off. Jim Cooper did a swift exit onto Nanok waving goodbye to all from the front mast.

Out at Mt King they weren't faring so well with aircraft, flying In between spells of bad weather; So when Bruce Cameron came in a wee bit heavily, the helicopter ended up rather badly bent. After a patch up job, and the addition of a bamboo tail by Ashley and Leigh, we had a great photographic event when it came In slung under Vic Barkell's machine to the accompaniment of a chorus of cameras.

We are also happy to welcome Alf Humphries back, complete with crutches, and soon presented him with a plaster boot to fix his sprained ankle. Meanwhile up on the snooker table, the types of cue pitted their skill at eight ball with the team of Tony Everett and David Steele proving to be champions in the knockout competition.

The building crew after earlier work on the sleeping quarters switched to the power house construction. So with Stuart Higgins on rock drill, Warren Cannon Daihatsu mixer, Tony Everett vibrator, Brian Ball on his belly under the old powerhouse, and Graham Pryde crane, (sounds like a symphony orchestra), the first concrete pedestals were poured and then the base for the new generator assisted this time by Peter Blay, Darryl Punch and Paul Delaney on bagmix, elevator and wheelbarrow to complete the combo.

As the month progressed, extra faces appeared around the base as The Enderby Land party moved back into Mawson, so the Ipso Motel was re-opened for business with Steve Scherl and singing Simon Harley, brushing out the cobwebs and also Jim Vallance's Health Studio. (Who needs weight-lifting when you have bagmix).

All the field party were nicely bronzed, right down to their shirt collars. Their main occupation after gathering rocks seems to be gathering drums, must be a new science.

A number of 'depoting' trips were done by helicopters which gave some more scope for aerial photographs of Mawson and the Coastlines East and West, with Shane Rollins and Tony Everett Getting some nice black and white shots. Wayne Quinn has been busy running a taxi service to and from Gwamm airstrip with rocks, fuel and people being shuttled.

A couple of notable visitors, were an iceberg and a whale, with the iceberg being the least welcome. It came sneaking in on a Wednesday night and wedged itself firmly in the Harbour entrance, causing great discussion and untold nuisance to the Nella Dan.

The whale was another win for Kodak by the number of cameras aimed at it, with Russ Willey sprinting up and down to get shots of our nearest approach of a sea whale.

Our radio boys Peter, Steve and Dagur (Tom currently out with returning Mt King party), are looking a bit frazzled and wondering how can everybody want to talk at once. With Helicopters, Porter flying, Mt King traverse boys coming in, Nella Dan, and now the Cape Pillar also chatting on.

The arrival of Nella Dan was quite a coming and going as bad weather forced the Captain to take her out to sea again and ride out a force eleven gale, coming back in again rather ice encrusted. An all night unloading of fuel ensued, then finally she slipped past the iceberg and into the harbour to ride out yet another gale. (They have been coming every couple of days).

With Dave Hardy and Mike Knox-Little back from their camp at Rippon Glacier* and Syd Kirkby, 1980 O.I.C., taking up residence on the spare bed in the 'Oicery', the complete Enderby Land team was in, and Mawson ready for changeover.

In view of such bad weather and the prospect of a rapid departure, all the Enderby Land party, the Mawson summerers and the remaining '79 wintering party boarded the Nella; so finally our stay at Mawson comes to an end. Although we've enjoyed our stay here we are now ready to rejoin friends, sweethearts and families back home. So we wish the 1980 party a happy and enjoyable stay, but don't forget fellows it will be more fun in '81.

To our friend Nick Voloshinov, the last of the winterers of '79, Bon Voyage and a quick trip home to Tanya and Anastasia, maybe we'll see you sometime in Murmansk.

Regards, Keith Blundell.

* Small glacier flowing Southwards into King Edward Iceshelf, Enderby Land.