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Mawson Newsletter June 1980

Well at last the legendary Mid-Winter month has come and gone and to most of us we seem to be shaping up for the homeward run. This month has been no exception in providing us with plenty to write home about, so we will try to cover at least some of what has been done and what has happened here at Mawson.

Once again the weather has been kind to us, with only one day of gale force winds recorded so far. On the minus side however, we also experienced our coldest temperature so far -31 (on the 16th), which is only 0.7 of a degree more than the coldest temperature ever recorded for June at Mawson (on the 12th June 1970). June was also the month we lost the sun for two weeks, (from the 14th to the 28th) the sun did not rise above the horizon although we were never in complete darkness for there was always some twilight hours which are best described as a dawn glow in the sky. The colours in the sky were quite spectacular at times though it was hard to know if what we saw was sunrise or sunset.

In spite of the lack of light, life progressed much as usual and early in the month we were treated to a giant cricket spectacle when the "Mawson All-Stars" took on the "Polar-Cap Eleven". It was a rare exhibition of skill and determination which would have made Kerry Packer turn pale. At the end of the day we could not find a loser amongst us, so rather than declare a tie, we decided that we all had won.

The highlight of the month, of course, was the Mid-Winter celebrations, and preparation started early with a competition to invite famous and loved people to our celebrations (if they could provide the transport). Invitations were extended to, and replies received from: The Queen, Prince Phillip, Miss Piggy, Neville Wran, Sir Zelman Cowan, Paul Hogan, Lorraine Bailey, Garry McDonald Phillip Adams, Spike Milligan, John O'Grady, Mrs Rob, Margaret Thatcher, Dick Smith, Paul McCartney, Don Dunstan, Jeannie Ledingham and Lyle Hynes (both of Macquarie Island) and Don Lane. Of all the replies we received though, the most exciting turned out to be from Don Lane who was all set to fly down here to film the event. Unfortunately this was impossible, so on the 19th our building Foreman, Warren (Lizard) Cannon starred on the Don Lane Show by telephone. Our radio room was crammed full of men listening to the show, and wishing they were closer to their loved ones.

Mid-Winters Day (21st) was another crisp, clam day. For most of us it started at 10 am with a chicken and champagne breakfast. The day started earlier for our cook, Jim (Jay-Gee) Vallance, and his off-siders Tom (Magus) Maggs, Tony (Bear) Everett and Garry (Snoopy) Hardie. These men did an especially fine job (particularly Jim) in providing the food and drinks for the day.

After breakfast the dining room was left to the providers, while the rest of us filled in time playing darts, pool, drinking, taking photographs and preparing for the nights entertainment. Then at 4.00 pm the main meal for the day began, the culinary masterpiece consisting of: "Poulet et Champagne, Pot ao feu simple, Fruite de Rebiere a la Hussarde, Tournedos Marsellaise a la Savoyard, Carottes Vichy a la piementaise, Les Petit Pois Menagere, Roast suckling pig, L'orange Surprise, Demi-Tasse, Danish Blue, Edam, Gouda, Old English, Cracker Barrel. (Note - my French is not the best, bear with me)

Everyone enjoyed themselves greatly! Presentations of the Mawson honours were made, toasts were drunk to The Queen, Antarctic Expeditioners, absent friends and ANARE, and the dieso's presented their own awards to those who they deemed deserving. Even with our best efforts it took us about two and a half hours to demolish the meal, and then afterwards to retire to the Club for the evening's entertainment. All the entertainment was provided from an enormous store of talent down here. We were treated to a different version of "Cinderella", starring Graham (Jumbo) Pryde, Charles (Sir Rodney) Tivendale, Rob (Friar Tuck) Taylor, David (Brutus) Blaby, Garry (Snoopy) Hardie and Rob (Rusty) Yost. This was followed by a Whore-House Quartet, starring our intrepid OIC Syd (Slick) Kirkby, Alf (Phredd) Humphries, Kevin (Cosin) Campbell and Peter (Stix) Stickland.

Our traverse men were next with a song describing their adventures which had been written by Brian (Big D) Gaull, with a bit of help from his friends Bob (Weather) Schahinger and Garry (Snoopy) Hardie. Then a band of nomadic Scotsmen led by Kevin (Cosin) Campbell performed the reel of the 51st. The troupe was made up by David (Steelo) Steele, Colin (Raincoat) McIntosh, Ivan (Terrible) Reid, Tom (Magus) Maggs and Big Daddy Gaull. A scheduled appearance of the Mawson punk rockers, "The Safety Pin Seals" was put off due to technical problems, but Brian Gaull, George (KCMG) Seidl, Tony Everett and Graham Pryde filled in the rest of the evening with music, with the aid of all and sundry. Sunday the 22nd was a quiet day before, but there wasn't a bleary eyed casualty who hadn't enjoyed himself immensely.

June was no exception as far as overnight jolly's were concerned. Trips were made by: Big Daddy Gaull, Lloyd (50/50) Fletcher, and Ice Cowboy Rusty Yost to Mt Henderson; Tom Maggs and Kev (Shep) Shepherd took the dogs to one of the local islands, and a second trip was made by David Brutus Blaby, Warren Liz Cannon, Friar Tuck and Rob (Nobby) Petrini to another island near the ice fall mentioned in last months newsletter.

As usual, Antarctica and Mawson continue to be rich and rewarding, and everyone is still finding plenty to impress and satisfy them. While none of us is without his low moment, we are all still enjoying the life here. There are many things that could be told, but space will not permit here. Please be assured that our love and thoughts are often with you and although most of us are not quite past the half way point, the time is passing quickly.

With love from the men at Mawson.