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Antarctica Hotels: 42 reviews and 75 photos
Mawson Station looking to SW
Mawson, operated by the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE), is the oldest continuously operating station south of the Antarctic Circle. It was established on Horseshoe Harbour, in the Australian Antarctic Territory, during February 1954. The 1966 expedition, in which I was a member, arrived on 3 February 1966 and watched the "Nella Dan" sail off on 14 February. She came back to retrieve us on 13 February 1967.
Mawson had four main accommodation huts, specific purpose working huts, a kitchen and mess which were linked to a recreation room, and a photographic darkroom. Most buildings were heated with oil heaters, but several still retained solid fuel briquette heaters. When moving between buildings it was a matter of rugging up and braving the elements! Mawson is one of the windiest places on earth, with an average windspeed of about 25 knots - we had winds over 120 knots at times.
Unique Qualities: The main photo is looking to the southwest through the station. My living hut was to the right of the camera, the foreground building slightly right of centre was the darkroom (where this photo was in fact developed). In the distance to the right is the radio hut, with the kitchen/mess the darkish building to the left. Most of the other huts, apart from the one with the pitched roof to the right (a builder's hut) were for accommodation. Notice the snowdrifts in the lee of most buildings.
The second and third photos are aerial shots from a helicopter, taken during station changeover, just before we left in February 1967. Both show the "Nella Dan". In the third photo, the dotted lines across the foreground snowdrifts are the doglines - the dogs were chained in the open there and "marked their spot". As you can see in the aerial photos, by late summer most snowdrifts around the station had cleared - they would be back only a few weeks later.
Address: Horseshoe Harbour, Australian Antarctic Territory.
'Balleny' living hut, Mawson 1966
The small hut in the photo, with an aurora hovering overhead, was the Mawson living hut named "Balleny". All the living huts were named after Antarctic explorers, this was named after John Balleny, the first person to land south of the Antarctic Circle (on the islands now named after him) in 1839. Balleny happened to be the hut in which I lived at Mawson: it provided accommodation for six of us.
As you entered the door (think of a freezer door) you entered a 'cold porch' which was where jackets were hung, then a second freezer door led you into the central corridor. The personal bedroom cubicles (known in ANARE language as 'dongas') were off to either side and were about seven feet square. On the outer wall of each donga there were two small windows, one above the other, with the bed raised and near the top window. It was reached by a ladder. Below was a set of shelving for clothing and a desk near the lower window, with a small hanging closet alongside the bed at the end of the donga.
Unique Qualities: Balleny was different from the other living huts in two ways. It had the only bathtub on the station - never used, thankfully, it was there to enable the total immersion in hot water of anyone who was significantly affected by cold (either hypothermia or frostbite). Every living hut did however have a shower, working from a bucket which was filled with hot water from the tank above the heater, the water in turn being dug from snowdrifts by hand. The heater was the other way 'Balleny' differed: we still had a coal briquette burning pot-bellied heater - and were much warmer and more comfortable than any other hut, even if it was more labour intensive.
You may be able to see the star-trails in the photo. This was taken on old Kodachrome 25 ASA film, so the photo required about a 1 minute exposure!
Address: At the old Mawson station. As we used to say, 'On the smarter side of the crappers'.
Our comfortable cabin.
It's hardly going to be news to you, but if you are down in Antarctica as a tourist, there is one option only by way of accommodation - the ship you travelled on! So, if luxury cruising is your preference, an "expedition style" ship is less likely to meet your needs!
We found the "Marina Svetaeva" met the brochure description of "homely and comfortable". We'd rank the cabins about the equivalent of a good class two star hotel. They were quite spacious (our cabin on deck 4 was set up for four bunks, but was sold as a two person cabin) and about 4M by 3M, with two portholes.
The cabin was serviced daily, the beds were comfortable.
Unique Qualities: Great ocean views. :)
Address: See our Antarctica travel page.
Comparison: about average
Price: US$180 and up
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