Antarctica Favorite Tips by tiabunna Top 5 Page for this destination
Antarctica Favorites: 118 reviews and 167 photos
Mt Henderson, SnowTrac and trendy skier
Fondest memory: The mountain in the background to this photo is Mount Henderson, one of the more prominent mountains behind Mawson station. It rises to 970 metres, is about 15 km inland, and can be seen from well offshore.
The vehicle is called a SnowTrac. I had never heard of them outside Australia and its Antarctic stations, but I am indebted to VTer "melensdad" for the advice they came from Sweden. Ours were powered by a Porsche industrial engine, but had some recurring problems with tracks. It is parked on what is called "blue ice" - hard glassy ice which fractures and tinkles like glass if broken: this is found only in the "ablation zone" near the coasts and we were out testing some experimental ice depth sounding equipment. The 'trendy skier'... ahem, a little embarrassing to say it's me.
'Nella Dan' on the rocks, February 1966
Fondest memory: Australia's Antarctic stations traditionally had a "changeover party" the night before the ship departed. On the night of the changeover party at Mawson on 13 February 1966, everyone was ashore except the ship's Captain and Chief Engineer. I'm unsure whether they stayed onboard because the barometer was dropping like a brick - but it certainly was doing that!
Overnight we had a short sharp blizzard, with the wind gusting over 80 knots/ 100mph/ 160kph. All the ship's heavy mooring cables broke under the strain of the wind, leaving the ship blowing backward across the harbour. Fortunately the Captain and Chief Engineer were able to start the engines and drive the ship onto the rocks near the station - and that's how you see her in this photo. Being ice-strengthened, there was no problem for the ship being hard aground on the rocks (with engines at half speed to keep her there).
The haziness in the photo is because there still was a considerable wind blowing, sending drifting snow past the camera - and drift is visibly plastered on the sides of the ship. Later in the morning the wind eased and the ship was able to sail after lunch: the people onshore for the party had spent an uncomfortable night camped on the floor of the recreation hut.
Unloading the ship at Mawson, 1966
Fondest memory: ANARE, the Australian antarctic expeditions, unloaded the ships in the 1960s using pontoons and WWII-vintage amphibious Army DUKWS, as seen in this photo. Most cargo was in boxes, diesel fuel in drums, and these were lowered to the waiting DUKW or pontoon by sling from the ship, then manhandled at the other end. It was heavy work. The occasional large item, such as this new Ruston generator for Mawson, needed two pontoons - so they were lashed together and bridging timbers placed across them. The generator came equipped with skids, so once at the shore it was simply pulled into place by either a DUKW or a bulldozer.
Much of our equipment was of ex-military origin, that is why many people in this photo were wearing windproof WWII paratroop jackets.
Surveyors and coastal ranges near Mawson
Fondest memory: Slightly to the southwest of Mawson, the David Range runs generally north/south. A little south of it is the double-topped Mt Hordern. The route we followed inland from Mawson on the Spring Trip (see 'off the beaten track' tips) passes through the gap between the two, then heads further south past Mt Twintops, nearly 20 km further and not visible in this photograph.
Before the spring trip could commence, it was necessary to take accurate astronomical fixes from the base point of the survey, on an island offshore from Mawson. Getting there was simple, just a matter of driving across the sea ice. But doing the survey work was slow and cold, so down-filled suits were needed.
In the main photo you see the survey measurements being taken, with the North Masson Range (which has Mt Rumdoodle) to the left on the horizon. Mt Hordern is just visible above the nearest person, with The David Range further to the right. The second photo is taken from Mt Twintops, about 50km inland, looking back north to Mt Hordern.
Mt Rumdoodle, North Masson Ranges
Fondest memory: One of the most popular books at Mawson in 1966 (and the other Australian stations) was called "Rumdoodle". Written by WE Bowman, it was about a mythical expedition to a mythical mountain called "Rumdoodle". While it may not resonate in quite the same way to anyone who has not been in an expedition environment, we (and previous expeditions) found the book absolutely hilarious, as a satire on expeditions in general. Between the pages were a recognisable crew of misfits, drunks, incompetents and fakers, forever asking their idiot leader to send more 'medicinal champagne'. Not only was it popular, in 1959 it provided the official name for this mountain in the North Masson Ranges, about 15 km to the south of Mawson.
In 1966, a field caravan was permanently stationed there for short breaks from the station. Here we see a SnowTrac and a dogteam out for a day's run.
The book has been republished several times and there even is a webpage on it, at http://www.rumdoodle.org.uk/ . A highly recommended read.
More Reviews (49)
- See All Antarctica video and music
- Collectable Antarctic Coins
- See All Go there in a zodiac
- See All Home brewing
- See All Living Hut at Mawson Station
tiabunna's Related Pages
Antarctica Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "Sharrie's Antarctica Miracle"
- "cruising with the Bark Europa"
- "The White Continent"
- "Antarctica - the BIG Ice"
- "Antarctica, both filled and empty in the same view"
- See All...
- Things to Do in Antarctica
- Hotels in Antarctica
- Transportation in Antarctica
- Nightlife in Antarctica
- Restaurants in Antarctica
- Shopping in Antarctica
- Warnings and Dangers in Antarctica
- See All...
Nearby Travel Guides
- See All...
Explore the World
- Gulfport Hotels
- Daytona Beach Shores Hotels
- Bethune Beach Hotels
- Arkansas Hotels
Badges & Stats in Antarctica
- 54 Reviews
- 103 Photos
- 0 Countries
- 0 Cities
- See All Stats
- See All Badges (18)
Have you been to Antarctica?Share Your Travels
Latest Activity in Antarctica
Top 10 Pages
- Paris Intro, 79 reviews, 222 photos, 1 travelogue
- Vienna Intro, 46 reviews, 178 photos, 3 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Canberra Intro, 60 reviews, 150 photos, 3 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Kakadu National Park Intro, 34 reviews, 161 photos, 3 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Darwin Intro, 38 reviews, 151 photos, 3 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Antarctica Intro, 54 reviews, 103 photos, 3 travelogues
- Montreal Intro, 30 reviews, 95 photos, 1 travelogue
- Macquarie Island Intro, 29 reviews, 76 photos, 1 travelogue
- Cowra Intro, 19 reviews, 75 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Brisbane Intro, 26 reviews, 57 photos