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Mawson Newsletter, November, 1979.
Well November was quite a month, action packed and full of surprises. Numerous field trips took place ranging from Macey Island (affectionately known as the Macey Hilton) to take but more photos of the most photographed bird of the season, the Emperor Penguin and chicks.
Shorter trips to Welch Island, and all surrounding islands, were visited almost every day, as beautiful weather continued for almost the complete month. The only decent blizzard we did have during November created havoc in most buildings, as the warm huts melted the drift and caused many a pool of water inside most buildings.
Wildlife about the various islands has really exploded into full swing with the Adelie Penguins busy at work building their nests out of a few loose pebbles and breeding away (lucky devils). Many an evening has been spent by the lads taking pictures of Snow Petrels and Storm Petrels, with some good in-flight shots being the reward for patience and timing. Noticeably though, some complete blank slides as well, as the bird has outmanoeuvred the photographer at the crucial moment.
A general cleanup of the station and buildings was accomplished throughout the month. DAVE HARDY and helpers were busy cleaning down the kitchen and mess area from the grease and grime that builds up over the year, while Saturdays were put aside for some heavy cleaning operations.
A quick note for all the doggy lovers - both teams have been working really well, getting plenty of work on the sea-ice and plateau. Our imported bitch "Vida", who came from New Zealands Scott Base, along with Noogis for breeding purposes, had her first litter of three pups, two dogs and a bitch, all fine-looking dogs.
Our traverse finally hit Mt King about half way through the month, after a real battle for 30 days or so through soft snow and blizzards - making the going very slow and a lot of hard work. Within sight of Mt King they were blizzed in again for another 2 days, but finally arrived and started the big job of digging out the summer base which had not been used for near on two years. On departing for Mawson (at the moment they are quite close to Mawson on their return leg), they left four men - MIKE KNOX-LITTLE, ADRIAN BLAKE, WAYNE SCHOCKER and PETER DAWSON to prepare the summer base for the influx of scientists who will be working in the area over the summer period.
The biggest and best news of the month of course, was the arrival of the "Nella Dan". The attempt to reach Davis through heavy pack ice had to be abandoned. Bad luck for the Davis lads, but it should be quite a New Year at Davis as the ship will be sailing from Melbourne again on 20th December.
The arrival here of three choppers from the Nella, which was moored to the fast ice on the edge of a lead about 36 kilometres out of Mawson was a sight for sore eyes. Led by "Silver Fox" Vic Barkell, the choppers landed in formation. The mail was first priority which was unloaded and taken to the recreation room for a quick sort out. Many a man was seen with a full mouth, half a tomato in one hand, and an armful of letters and packages from all the lonely people back home. A real buzz. Our pantry was restocked with fresh fruit and vegies and other good gear to satisfy the craving of the old crew.
The holiday feeling faded fast as 'sleepy' little Mawson, almost overnight, turned into something out of Pitt Street during peak hour, as the 1980 Mawsonites and the Davis crew started arriving. We have bodies bedded down in every available space: the old IPSO building being converted into sleeping quarters, and all of the spare dongas being fitted out with a double bunk to take the influx of expeditioners. The Bods for Davis who didn't quite make it, are having a ball at Mawson making the most of the doggies and sea ice before being transported to their Vestfolds for the remainder of their term South. With the beautiful weather we've been having lately, it's possible some of the Davis lads will be reluctant to leave beautiful Mawson. A few lively nights in 'the club' followed, as we met one another over an ale and a sing along.
The chopper crew have been flat out taking scientific equipment and people to outlying depots for research purposes. Mt King has also been invaded and is like a miniature Mawson - all hard at work completing the last of a long range scientific programme before being dismantled and returned to Mawson.
So that's about it from beautiful Mawson - so we would like to take this opportunity in wishing everyone, everywhere all the very best for Christmas and the festive season. May all your wishes come true. Love and kisses from the 79ers and 80ites.